Season Preview #5: Arkansas Razorbacks
By Joseph Morgan
Joseph will be breaking down each of the 2008 Florida Gators' opponents and making predictions game by game before the season starts for GatorTailgating.com. This is the next article in this series. Please feel free to give your input and make your opinions known throughout the series by commenting below.
Game Five vs. Arkansas, Oct. 4
Info: The Razorbacks had a successful 2007 season, which included eight wins, a second consecutive second-place finish for Darren McFadden in Heisman voting, and a wild 50-48 victory over eventual national champion LSU.
Unfortunately, Arkansas's season was marred by a bad ending, including an ugly split with head coach Houston Nutt and a 38-7 loss to Missouri in the Cotton Bowl.
Offseason: The Razorbacks made a big splash in the offseason by hiring Bobby Petrino as their new head coach. Petrino left his former position as head coach of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons prematurely, resigning 13 games into his first season with Atlanta.
Petrino, better known for his success at Louisville, will bring a formidable passing offense to Arkansas and the Razorbacks should have a prolific offense as long as Petrino patrols the sidelines in Fayetteville.
While Arkansas's offense will improve under Petrino's guidance, the Razorbacks will have to overcome the loss of their two-headed running back monster: Felix Jones and All-America running back Darren McFadden, the 22nd and fourth overall selections in the 2008 NFL Draft, respectively.
How Petrino and the Razorbacks adapt their offense to the loss of Jones and McFadden will determine Arkansas's success in 2008.
2008 Outlook: Arkansas heads into 2008 with a different attitude, but should be a decent squad. The Razorbacks return starting quarterback Casey Dick as well as four of their five starting offensive linemen from a year ago.
In addition, the Razorbacks return their entire defensive line and will enjoy the luxury of good depth on the defensive side of the ball.
Arkansas won't contend for an SEC West title in 2008, but don't be surprised if Bobby Petrino has a few tricks—and upsets—up his sleeve.
Game Prediction: Florida 45, Arkansas 24
While Arkansas will be adjusting to a new coaching staff and coping with the loss of McFadden and Jones, the Razorbacks will still put up a bunch of points.
In addition, Florida’s defense has improved, but I believe that they will show some vulnerability in their pass defense, the Gators’ Achilles heel during the 2007 campaign.
Despite some offensive fireworks from Arkansas, Urban Meyer and the Gators have one of the top offenses in the nation and should outscore the Razorbacks in this SEC shootout. Percy Harvin and the Florida receiving corps should have a big day and propel the Gators to another SEC victory.
Florida is now 5-0 and will face defending national champion LSU in “the Swamp” in their next matchup. Watch out for one of the best SEC games of the season.
Joseph Morgan is a columnist for BleacherReport.com. You can read most of his articles by visiting http://bleacherreport.com/users/8612-Joseph-Morgan.