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2012 College Football Previews: Arkansas

Head Coach: John L. Smith

Arkansas Razorbacks Gambling Odds from JustBet to Win BCS Championship: +1,800

Arkansas Razorbacks Gambling Odds from JustBet to win SEC Conference: +650

Few schools have had as much drama as the Arkansas Razorbacks have in the past few months. Last November the team matched up against LSU as the #3 ranked team in the nation with a chance to play their way into the BCS Championship Game. Now, heading into the following season the team is led by a new head coach after Bobby Petrino earned himself a pink slip. The Razorbacks still have tons of talent though, and this is a team to keep an eye on. Let’s take a look at this roster.

Offense:

Arkansas has a brilliant quarterback leading the way in the form of Tyler Wilson. Ryan Mallett was great, but Wilson made Razorback fans forget about him quickly in 2011. Tyler Wilson finished the 2011 season with 3,638 passing and 24 touchdowns compared to just six interceptions. He has all the tools, and the coaching staff said he had the best preseason of anyone on the team.

Losing Knile Davis really crushed this team last year, but he should be back and healthy in 2012. Davis racked up more than 1,100 yards in the last eight games of the 2010 season. His combination of speed and strength makes him one of the best runners in the nation. The Razorbacks have a great second-string running back in Dennis Johnson, who is also a great special teams player.

The offensive front is led by veteran center Travis Swanson. This is a big and athletic group that should do well in the SEC this year. The one area on the offensive side of the ball that is a concern for Arkansas this year is wide receiver. Three Arkansas receivers from last season are now in the NFL. Cobi Hamilton must be great on the outside, and look for tight end Chris Gragg to get more action this year in the passing game.

Defense:

The strength of the defense is the linebacker unit. Alonzo Highsmith and Tenarius Smith are both stars at this position. All four of the linebackers who are expected to see the majority of the playing time at Arkansas are seniors, so this should be a leadership group for the team.

The defensive line has a great interior presence. Arkansas has five or six guys who are likely to see action at the defensive tackle spots. On the outside, Arkansas needs to get more production from the defensive ends. The Razorbacks didn’t do a very good job rushing the passer last year, and that will have to improve this year.

The secondary is led by safety Eric Bennett. He had 74 tackles last year and three crucial interceptions. The cornerback spots are expected to be held down by Darius Winston and Tevin Mitchel. Winston was a highly touted recruit who has never come into his own, but Mitchel had a great freshman season at cornerback for this team.

2012 Arkansas Razorbacks Football Predictions: 10-3

Will losing Bobby Petrino hold this team back in 2012? If this team doesn’t get to 10 wins this season will certainly be counted as a bit of a disappointment. This team has as much talent in the backfield as any team in the SEC. The defense isn’t great, but they aren’t one of the worst in the league either. Wilson should be a starter in the NFL soon, and Davis is a great runner. The schedule is extremely tough, but I think this team gets to ten wins because of their tremendous talent.

During the last three years in college football, my plays are  157-116 (57.14% winners). If you aren’t already a member of my free sports picks newsletter, join in today. I’ll be sending out free premium plays (including exclusive season win total plays) before the start of the season to newsletter subscribers. Simply enter your email in the upper right hand side of this page and you’ll be ready to go.

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