On Saturday, the Arkansas Razorbacks (3-2) will take on the #18 Florida Gators (3-1) in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Kickoff for is set for 6 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2.
The Arkansas football team played undoubtedly their best game of the season last weekend against Texas A&M, but came up short in the fourth quarter. The tough stretch of games continues this week for the Hogs as they try to move the ball against the stingy Gator defense.
Although the Gators lead the overall series 8-1, there have been recent interesting matchups between these two teams. In 2009, the top-ranked Gators beat Arkansas on a last second field goal. After some questionable calls from the officials against the Razorbacks, the crew was suspended for the following week.
Also, no true Arkansas fan has forgotten the heartbreaking loss to Florida in the 2006 SEC championship game in which Arkansas had the lead, but a detrimental muffed-punt turned into a 38-28 win by the Gators.
The Hogs’ offense took form last week with a healthy Brandon Allen under center and the dynamic- duo of Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins carrying the ball.
Collins has now gone over 100 yards rushing in four of his first five games as a freshman. To put that in perspective, Darren McFadden only had five 100-yard rushing games his entire freshman year.
Despite the early success, the offense for the Razorbacks now faces its toughest task yet.
Florida’s defense ranks near the top of the nation in all the major categories, especially run defense. The Gators are only giving up 53 yards per game on the ground which leads the nation, along with the second-best overall defense only giving an average of 202.5 yards per game to opposing offenses.
While the Gator defense dominates, the Gator’s offense dominates in time of possession.
Florida is first in the nation in time of possession, by way of their run-heavy offense. The Gators hold onto the ball for an average of 38 minutes and 58 seconds a game. This doesn’t give their opponents much time to score, and forces them to make the best out of every possession that they get.
This type of play-calling is mainly due to the fact that starting quarterback Jeff Driskel went down with a broken leg two weeks ago. In comes junior Tyler Murphy who is going to make his second career start, but is completing 72 percent of his passes.
To achieve that type of time of possession domination, the Gators run the ball as effectively as anyone in the nation. Much like Arkansas, Florida has its own duo in the backfield. Matt Jones and Mack Brown carry the ball behind the veteran offensive line for the Gators and while they may not put up big numbers, they get the job done.
Last game showed that Arkansas doesn’t back down to a big-time opponent as they gave Texas A&M all they could handle, but they are going to have to answer the call again this week.
Arkansas has attempted to run against a good defense before in Rutgers, but the Knights packed the box and it didn’t turn out well. However, that was an offense without Brandon Allen.
If the Hogs are going to move the ball, Allen will have to have another big game and spread the defense out. If the Hogs rely completely on the run, they won’t stand a chance against this defense.
With the offensive line still in progress, the Razorbacks will struggle to establish their rushing attack in this game, unless they can make Florida respect the pass.
The defense for the Hogs is still questionable, and even though they gave up a lot of yards to A&M, it was less than anyone else had given up to Johnny Manziel and company.
Having a great defensive line will help the Hogs this game, especially trying to get pressure on the inexperienced quarterback, but if they give up rushing yards to the Gators like they did the Aggies, they won’t stand a chance.
If this game is in Fayetteville with an electric crowd like last weekend, the Hogs have a good chance at pulling out the upset. This game however, is in The Swamp at night which is one of the toughest places to play in the entire nation.
Some Razorbacks fans may forget that this will only be Brandon Allen’s sixth time to start in his career and the first true road game for the sophomore.
Florida has not allowed more than 66 rushing yards in any game this season. Arkansas averages 237 rushing yards per game. Something has to give.
Arkansas hangs with the Gators, like they did against A&M, but comes up short again in a low scoring affair.
Arkansas- 13 Florida- 21