BCS Rankings 2011: Arkansas Football's Bowl Outlook
The first BCS rankings of the season have been released, and Arkansas finds itself at No. 9, the highest-ever ranking in the initial BCS rankings for an Arkansas team.
After Bobby Petrino's first season at the helm of the Arkansas Football program, the team failed to qualify for a bowl game. Petrino told his assistants to enjoy the time off around the holidays, because it wouldn't happen again.
That statement turned out to be true, as Arkansas has made it to bowl games each of the last two years and needs just one more win this season to be bowl eligible.
So, as we head into the second half of the season, it's time to start looking at Bowl game possibilities for the Razorbacks.
Lower Tier Bowl Game: Chick-Fil-A, Music City, Liberty, Etc.
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These games represent the lower tier of bowl games for SEC teams.
With Arkansas sitting at 5-1, and the schedule for the second half of the season setting up to be manageable, the wheels would have to come off the Razorback bus in order to end up in one of these games.
One gets the feeling that if the Hogs end up in one of these games, Petrino will care far less about winning the game than about having the extra practice time to get ready for next season.
If the Razorbacks manage only two to three wins over the rest of the season, they could be looking at spending the holidays in Nashville or Memphis.
Capital One or Cotton Bowl
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If the Hogs finish the season with nine or 10 wins and a third- or fourth-place finish in the SEC, it is likely they would earn a berth to play in either the Capital One or Cotton Bowl.
Historically, the Capital One Bowl is for the best SEC team not playing in a BCS game, and the next team down the list goes to the Cotton Bowl. If Arkansas ended up in this position, it would be interesting to see which game it would select.
The Capital One has slightly more prestige, but it's less attractive from an Arkansas standpoint. The game is the second bowl game in a week to be played at the Citrus Bowl, and combined with the climate, the game usually looks more like an episode of Swamp People than a football game.
The matchup is usually with a Big Ten team, so for an SEC team that relies on its speed to gain an advantage, the field serves a a neutralizer.
Conversely, the Cotton Bowl is played in Dallas and is well suited for a speed-oriented team. SEC teams have won both Cotton Bowls since it moved to Jerry's World.
Dallas has always been a second home to Arkansas and its fans, and because the matchup is against the Big 12, there is the promise of an attractive regional matchup against Texas or Oklahoma State.
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At this point, it is assumed that the winner of Alabama-LSU will play in the BCS championship game at the end of the season.
The second best team from the conference would likely be selected to play in the Sugar Bowl on January 3rd.
Without getting into all the what-if scenarios, if Arkansas defeats LSU in Baton Rouge on November 25th, it would likely earn a bid to play in its second straight Sugar Bowl.
Arkansas Bowl Prediction: Capital One Bowl
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Over the years, I've found that I'm really bad at foretelling the future, but I'll still attempt to predict what bowl game Arkansas will end up playing in.
If Arkansas played LSU today, I believe that LSU would win that football game and earn a Sugar Bowl berth. In that case, I believe Arkansas would accept a bid to the Capital One Bowl, because of the prestige and the opportunity to go someplace new for the players.
Now, by the time Arkansas and LSU play, who knows what the state of affairs will be.
Bobby Petrino's teams have a habit of getting better as the season progresses, and the Hogs are 2-1 against LSU under Petrino. While the Razorback's have had a hard time getting over the psychological hurdle of beating Alabama, Arkansas' seniors have won two games over LSU.
So, anything could happen when the two teams meet once again in the Battle of the Boot, and the players know it.