The kind folks at Arkansas Fight have graciously accepted to answer my questions regarding this week's game. There appears to be a sizable contingent of Razorback fans making the trip up to Piscataway, so consider this a primer for interacting with our friends from down south during tailgates.
Q: Arkansas makes the trip to Piscataway with a shiny 3-0 record. But is there substance behind the wins? How would you rate the season thus far?
There may be substance to the team, but it is very hard to give any substance to the wins. Things have been extremely conservative, but given that the last two games were expected blowouts that were ultimately close games in the second half, whether that conservatism was by design or necessity is anybody's guess. The Hogs have a pretty record, but their manner of getting there has definitely been lacking aesthetically. We stand to know a LOT more after Saturday. It really cannot be understated how important this game is for Arkansas. Highly likely it could determine whether the Razorbacks make a bowl game or not.
Q: The Bret Bielema era is fully underway in Fayetteville. What is the fan sentiment Biels three games into the season?
There have been a few grumbling comparisons to former Head Razorback Houston Nutt and his less than entertaining offensive strategy, but for the most part the honeymoon continues. He's a loudmouth, beer-swilling, arrogant pig farmer with a stellar resume, one of the best staffs in the country, and a smoking hot wife. With a 3-0 record, there isn't much to dislike at the moment.
Q: With Tyler Wilson gone, Arkansas has turned to the running game for production, ranking 11th in the nation in average yards per game. Is stopping the run enough to beat the Razorbacks, or does Brandon Allen bring a serious threat through the air?
Unfortunately it is looking more and more like Brandon Allen will be out for the Rutgers game after injuring his throwing shoulder on a touchdown-scoring dive into the endzone last week against Southern Miss. His backup is AJ Derby, whose performance off the bench last week was... less than inspiring. With Derby under center, stopping the run will almost certainly be enough to beat Arkansas, but that is easier said than done. Arkansas boasts both the #4 and #7 leading rushers in the nation.
Q: Are you tired of JFF yet?
While tailgating last week, TJ Yeldon snapped off a long run against the Aggies, and as he did I implored him to score. Loudly. Unabashedly. It was not my finest moment, and I apologized to everyone around me for cheering for the Tide, but man, I really dislike that guy. FJFF.
Q: Who are some players that opposing fans might not be familiar with, but should be aware of on gameday?
The star of the season thus far is true freshman Alex Collins. Recruiting fans may remember him as the highly rated running back out of the Miami area who chose Arkansas over Miami whose mother RAN OFF WITH THE LOI ON SIGNING DAY. If it wasn't my team, it would have been high comedy. Anyway, turns out he's worth all the drama, as he is the first running back in SEC history to go north of 100 yards in each of his first three games as a freshman. He has good size and loves contact, but what sets him apart is his acceleration through cuts. Lots of fun to watch
Collins' counterpoint in the backfield is sophomore Jonathan Williams, a downhill bruiser that also possesses breakaway speed. He also has gone for 100+ in every game this season. Williams has incredible vision and a knack for setting up his cuts that leads to lots of big plays. He's definitely a home run hitter.
Defensively, the names Rutgers fans should be acquainted with are those of the two standout defensive ends. Chris Smith and Trey Flowers both have draft-worthy talent off the edge. They will be in the backfield all day. If they start getting to the quarterback (whoever it is), it could lead to a very long day for the Scarlet Knights.
Q: Do you have a prediction for the final score?
I think a field goal could be the difference. 20-17 Arkansas.
So there you have it. I'd like to thank the kind folks from SB Nation's Arkansas blog for collaborating on this Q&A. For more info on the Razorbacks, head on over to Arkansas Fight. For an opposing team's view of the Scarlet Knights, check out this preview.