The hire of Bobby Petrino by the University of Arkansas was supposed to be a home run hire. For the most part, it has proven to be a successful hire. Last season, the Razorbacks finished second in the SEC West and were selected to play in the Sugar Bowl. Despite losing to the Ohio State Buckeyes, it was a step in the right direction.
This season has been another successful step in the right direction. The Razorbacks are currently 10-1 and still alive to play in both the SEC and national championship game.
However, at the same time, this Razorback team has the same feel as all the other teams have had under Petrino—good but not elite
Is this team as good as their ranking or are they just the product of a well-coached team playing a weak schedule. Coming into this season, the Razorbacks were 3-8 versus teams that finished the season ranked in the top 25 under Coach Petrino.
This season looks to be much the same. They have three teams on their schedule that will likely finish in the top 25—LSU, Alabama and South Carolina. The Razorbacks were easily defeated by the Tide and their win against the Gamecocks was while South Carolina was without Marcus Lattimore.
If Arkansas is going to take the next step, Coach Petrino needs this signature win against LSU.
Despite coach Petrino's mild success with the Razorbacks, he has not accomplished what he was hired to do as of yet. Prior to his arrival in Fayetteville, the Razorbacks had won their division and played in the SEC championship game twice in six years. However, since that time, Alabama, LSU and Auburn have won national championships. Arkansas has remained a middle of the road team.
If the Arkansas Razorbacks are going to reach the heights that Coach Petrino was hired to take them to, it must be now. This week, Coach Petrino will take his Razorbacks into Baton Rouge, Les Miles and LSU.
This is a game they can win and must win if they are going to join the top tier college football programs. The Razorbacks have beaten LSU in three of the last four matchups. However, they have not won a game with this much on the line.
I have no doubt that Petrino can be an elite level coach, he is an offensive genius. Judging by his contract and buyout, I think that he will be in Fayetteville for a long time.
However, both he and Arkansas need this win to reach the level the University hired him to reach.