"Key" game for 2019 - depends on how you define "key"

Picking out the “key game” for this 2019 Razorback season is trickier than it is most years.

Traditionally, the “key game” has been one that, if won, might open the door to a championship type run. Obviously, that is not in the cards for this season (barring a miracle). So - just what is the criteria for a “key game” in our current situation?

I look at it a couple of different ways; one would be - “what early season game might be a litmus test for how the rest of the season might go?”; and the second would be “what ‘swing game’ game (or, one in which we will be an underdog) must we win if we are to qualify for a Bowl?”.

In answer to the first, I’d say Colorado State. This was the game that I pointed to last year (most looked past CSU and N. Texas to Ole Miss), and it turned out to be the right call. I was concerned last year because SO much was new for that Razorback team, and any young team’s first road game is always a bigger challenge than most fans realize, regardless of the opponent. After we lost that game, I believe everybody knew we were in for a very difficult season.

This year, we get Colorado State at home and I think we will get some kind of measuring stick in comparing what I expect to be a win vs. the meltdown in Fort Collins last year. Put another way, if we DON’T beat them this year, you can forget about the second criteria (Bowl eligibility), because it will be moot.

Assuming we do get past the Rams, then I believe the true “key game” will be Mississippi State. I’d love to say it would be either A&M or Kentucky. But being as objective and honest as i can be, I just think both of those programs are (today) stronger than we are and I expect us to lose those games in Arlington and Lexington, respectively. And I HATE to type that, especially where the Aggies are concerned; they have become my #1 team to beat and will remain so until this ugly losing streak is over with.

Back to MSU; I judge them to be a little ahead of us on the rebuilding trail. However, we get them at home and this is probably our best bet to score an upset in SEC play. If we can manage to win this game, we have a puncher’s chance to beat Mizzou (in LR) and become Bowl eligible. Lose it and I just don’t see a Bowl for 2019.

I know that Clay usually likes to reserve his thoughts on this topic until later in the summer But what do the rest of you think?

I think the first two games are actually the big test. I am not speaking of wins or losses but how well we compete. I feel that last year after the first two games it was obvious, but hopefully we will compete more and if so, eventually if not sooner win some games.

I can’t disagree with your comment about “competing” in these games.

I do think many will point to our game @ Ole Miss as a “key” game. But here’s the thing; I don’t expect us to beat Ole Miss, on the road, in our second game of the season. If we did, it would be great. But since I don’t expect to win, then a loss won’t be a sign (to me) that we’re in trouble. If, however, we can’t beat CSU at home after what happened last year, then the alarms would go off.

Personally, I see Ole Miss in Oxford in Week 2 as the early litmus test. If Arkansas can find a way to win that one then take care of business at home against Colorado State and San Jose State the next two weeks it builds confidence heading into Texas A&M in Arlington, a game we tend to view as a swing game most years.

See my post directly above yours.

Sure - a WIN against Ole Miss tells us a lot. But a loss there would not be a surprise at all (except to unrealistic fans). So if we lose, as expected, we haven’t’ learned too much. The one exception would be if we got drummed by 30 points or something. Still, we’d have some time to pull out a decent season (by this year’s standards).

If we were playing them (Ole Miss) after 5 or 6 games, I’d be much more optimistic. I don’t think they’ll be very good in week #2, ,but at least they will be at home. And I have no idea who we’ll be playing at QB that early in the year. May or may not be who we settle in with later in the season.

I don’t know about key, but the one I’m most looking forward to watching is Ole Miss. It’s unique in that it’s easily the earliest they have ever played as conference opponents, but it’s also the only game in the first four weeks that is remotely attractive. And yes, I’m aware that includes the rematch with Colorado State.

Agree… this will give us Hog fans a clue :sunglasses:

i thought we opened with Auburn in CBB’s first season?

I think he means the earliest OM & Ark have played as conference opponents.

Back to the topic, though. I think the OM game will tell us a whole lot about where we are. It’s probably not key in the sense that if we lose it on the road, it necessarily portends a horrible season. However, if we win I think we can maybe pick up 5-6 more wins to get to a bowl. I don’t know how to read it if we’re competitive but lose. We were very competitive with them last year, but as has been so often the case for us lately, we blew it late. Regardless, a win is probably necessary if we want a reasonable chance to get a bowl. I think we’ll beat CSU (should have last year), so I don’t see that as key as Wiz. Of course, if we lose it, it will be very key for all the bad reasons.

If we beat OM, we have to win at least one other conference game to get to a bowl. We should win our non-conference games. None of them are very good. I only see us having a decent chance to win the OM, MSU, A&M, UK, Mizzou games. Not saying we’ll win any of those, but they’re the ones I think we have a chance to win right now. We might get beat badly by any of them. Just hope we’re reasonably competitive against AU, AL, LSU.

It’s the one which gets them to six. That would be a league game. Maybe Miss State or Mizzou.

I mean the earliest Arkansas has ever played Ole Miss as SEC opponents. Typically that game has been in mid-to-late October or in November.

Arkansas has played a lot of conference games early in the season. For the first four or five years South Carolina was the second game and Alabama was the third.

I’m going with Miss St as the key game. While I agree that I want to see us be competitive at Ole Miss and that is one that could be a possible win, it will be difficult for this team to do in game 2 on the road, I think. Would love to see us win, but a loss won’t completely dash the hopes for the season that early on.

We haven’t won a home SEC game since Florida in 2016. I don’t see us having the talent level and depth yet to pull off a win against Auburn so a conference win in Fayetteville will be long overdue when Miss St rolls in and could give us a huge shot in the arm, some hope for the future, and a chance at either getting win #6 the following week at home (if we did happen to win at Ole Miss, Arlington, or Lexington) or should set up the Missouri game in LR as a chance to play for bowl eligibility, if everything else goes as projected.

I’m looking forward to every game this year. we have been SOOOOOOO bad, historically bad for several years now, and I see this as the year we start to turn the ship around.

Who would have thought that I’d want “revenge” against CSU?!?!?!?!? just nuts how bad we’ve been the past few years, since that April Fool’s day.

I always can’t stand A&M, but this losing streak is so painful and likely to continue, so I won’t call that a “key game”.

I say we win all 4 NC games. so we need 2 conference wins to be bowl eligible (which I would define as a great year for this club). so I’ll say Ole Mrs, MissStake and Mizzou are the key games, since they are all close enough to be “pickem’s”.

And who would have thought we’d want “revenge” against Mizzou?!?!? just really hard to believe how we’ve fallen. Bret just really ran our program into the ground, so glad he’s gone. I hope he faces his inner demons and straightens his life out, I don’t wish him ill will at all, but man he was really ruining our program.

Not to mention my son will be a frosh at UA this fall and I finally have season tickets!!!

GHG

No, we opened with ULL at DWRRS. It was my son’s first live college game. We didn’t play a SEC opponent until aTm (with Johnny Football) in the 5th week.

Arkansas opened at Auburn in 2014, Bielema’s second season.

Correct

Drove down for that game. Boy it sure did feel good to beat Florida. Who would have ever thought that would be our last home SEC win for 3 years?

Ole Miss for me b/c it will let us kniow where we stand,we win and I think we are much improved,we get pounded and its going to be a VERY long yr…The game will be tough for our young inexperienced secondary b/c they are going to spread us out and make us cover the whole field and they have a very good athletic QB who can really sling it so I’m looking forward to seeing how we do.

I’ll add that Kentucky on the road is another intriguing game to me. The Wildcats lost their top playmakers on both sides of the ball in running back Benny Snell (16 TD) and linebacker Josh Allen (88 tackles, 17 sacks). This game sits essentially in the middle of the season, and both teams will be coming off a bye. Kentucky plays Florida and travels to Mississippi State and South Carolina in the 3 weeks prior to the bye while Arkansas hosts Colorado State, San Jose State and faces Texas A&M in Arlington before its week off.

1st for me is CSU. Are you kidding me? How can that even be?

Ole Miss comes early and on the road, but it will tell us a lot about the players on the field. I like what was said about MSU and that could be. My real fear about both MSU and MO is they come late and we have no real SEC depth. What will we have left to play by then? Still, beat MSU and I think that sets up MO as a big game if we have taken care of nonconference schedule. will the team quit like it did last year after playing real SEC teams. You can only get smashed so many times without jumping.