Arkansas Razorbacks Odds to win SEC with Expert Betting Predictions
There are coaches in college football that are easy to root for. They are inspiring, run programs effectively, and make you want to crawl off your couch and go into battle with them. They might not coach a team that you are a big fan of, but when they play you find yourself cheering for them anyway.
Arkansas' Bret Bielema is really, really not one of those guys.
He had a solid run at Wisconsin but left in shady circumstances, and he has done little to justify all his bravado since arriving in the SEC in 2013. The way he talked about it, the entire conference should have feared his arrival. After four seasons, though, I'm pretty sure that other coaches and programs haven't even noticed he is there. He has been that irrelevant - 25-26 overall and a truly pathetic 10-22 in the SEC. Most guys would be embarrassed by that kind of a run. Bielema just keeps talking and talking.
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2016 in a Nutshell
Things started out quite well for the team. They won three straight, with the two meaningless wins - one too close against Louisiana Tech - sandwiching a nice double-overtime win against TCU, which was ranked 15th at the time. And they had other high points, like beating No. 12 Ole Miss at home, or absolutely rolling over No. 10 Florida, winning by three touchdowns.
So when they were good they were pretty good. The problem, though, is that they were shockingly lacking in consistency.
Two weeks after the TCU win they got totally rolled over by Texas A&M on a neutral field. Right in between the Ole Miss and Florida wins they lost at Auburn. By 53. LSU beat them by four touchdowns. Alabama predictably beat them up. And they lost at a really bad Missouri team to cap off the season.
So, they were a bad team more often than not when playing good teams - and you can't avoid playing good teams in the SEC. Despite their struggles, they got a pretty good bowl matchup against Virginia Tech. That didn't go any better, though - they lost by 11. A record of 7-6. And 3-5 against ranked teams. That's not what Bielema is being paid to deliver. But, shockingly, it doesn't feel like his seat is particularly hot at this point.
Key Additions and Departures
The Razorbacks lose their top running back, but they were lousy running the ball for the most part last year - uncharacteristically for Bielema - so that's not tough to overcome. They have some decent depth at the position, too, so they should be fine. Not necessarily improved, but not worse. They have six starting linemen back as well as a couple of good youngsters behind them, so the line isn't a real concern. It was that line that they couldn't run behind, though, so they need to hope that progress comes with experience. The biggest problem, though, is that a team that relied on the pass last year has to replace six of their top eight receivers. They have talent but need to make tremendous progress in a hurry. There is talent and upside, but their ability to realize that potential is far from a sure thing.
The defense struggled last year, so a change in coordinator was made. Robb Smith had been in charge for three years, and there wasn't enough progress, so he moved on to work for P.J. Fleck at Minnesota. Paul Rhoads, who coached Iowa State for seven years, and coached DBs at Arkansas last year, takes over as coordinator. He had a really good run at DC at Pitt before his Iowa State days, but it's not always certain that a long-time coach can make the shift back down the ladder effectively. Rhoads is leading a shift to 3-4 from 4-3, so that will create some challenges as well. So could personnel woes - five of the top six linemen from last year have left. Sophomore McTelvin Agim has lots of upside on the line, and he suddenly has a whole lot of pressure, too. They also return most of their linebackers, their best corner, and all of their safeties. Rhoads has a big task ahead of him to improve this unit in a hurry.
Arkansas Razorbacks Schedule Analysis
There are four games on the schedule they are going to win with certainty - even Bielema can't mess this up. And games like TCU, at South Carolina, and Mississippi State are coin flip games that they should be quite competitive in. It's the rest that will define the season. They aren't winning at Alabama. Just not happening. They probably aren't winning at LSU, either. Three games will really define how the season goes, though. They play Texas A&M on a neutral field in Week 3 and then in consecutive weeks they host Auburn and play at Ole Miss. They should get to bowl eligibility, but I really struggle to see how they improve from their seven-win mark last year.
2017-18 Arkansas Razorbacks Betting Odds and Trends
Arkansas is not one of the 36 teams that BetOnline listed national title futures odds for . They are +5000 to win the SEC, which makes them the eighth choice, and so far behind Alabama at -150 that it's like they are playing a different sport. They are tied with Mississippi State at +4000 as the longest shot to win the SEC West. Not surprisingly, Alabama is at -260. The season win total sits at seven, and the "under" is the strong -145 favorite.
The team was a lousy 5-8 ATS last season and 3-7 ATS in the last 10 games. The team went under the total seven times and "over" six times. They lacked consistency, though - they went under two games in a row only once and over two games in a row once.
2017-18 Arkansas Razorbacks Predictions and College Football Picks
They are not going to be good. They are not going to be relevant in the SEC. And Bret Bielema is not going to be fired.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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