Arkansas finds itself in a much better position this week. The hogs have again won two straight. Yet this time, winning a third straight doesn't require beating Florida, the nation's No. 1 team. And it doesn't require winning on the road or even winning an SEC game. Arkansas must beat the Troy (Ala.) Trojans to do this hat trick that eluded them last year.
As I've written before, Arkansas was expected to lose at Bama and at Florida and was expected to have won their non-conference games and to have beaten Auburn and to beat Mississippi State next week. It was the games against Georgia, Ole Miss, and South Carolina that the hogs needed to split 2-1 but ended up splitting 1-2 instead.
However, with the win over South Carolina last week, the hogs can at least breathe a little easier that they didn't go winless in those three games. And with that South Carolina win sandwiched between Eastern Michigan and Troy on the schedule and having four straight home games (the three just mentioned and Miss. State) is just what the doctor ordered for a late season surge.
A bowl game now is just one win away and almost a lock. And with each successive win, the quality of the bowl game improves. So the hogs could potentially end the season by winning five straight (if they really get on a roll and use the rhythm and momentum to again beat LSU).
But for now it's one game at a time. The Razorbacks are obviously more talented on offense than Troy. And the defense is improving. Last week, South Carolina scored two touchdowns. One was from an Arkansas turnover that gave South Carolina the ball on the Arkansas 30 when Arkansas failed to convert a fake punt.
The second was a botched secondary coverage coming right out of halftime. Arkansas is not going to try many fake punts from their own 30 yard line so giving the short field is not a regular occurrence. So the only play of concern that really "drew blood" from South Carolina was the long pass play. For a defense that has been anything but stellar, that's good news.
On a statistical note, Arkansas currently ranks No. 1 in the conference in the following very important categories (data from secsports.com)...Red Zone Offense, Red Zone Defense, Turnover Margin, Passing Efficiency, Passing Totals, Points per Game, Stopping Fourth Down Conversions, and Scoring Offense.
If you had told me before the season that Arkansas would win all of those categories, I would have gladly taken that. This shows for sure that Arkansas has had marked improvement from last year to this year and from the early part of the season until now. Arkansas is much better than their record. From all indications, that record is about to get a boost.