Troy (0-1) at (14) Arkansas (2-0)
Saturday, September 17th, 7:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The 14th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks have been impressive through the first two weeks of the season, and they are set for another non-conference game, this time against the visiting Troy Trojans.
Troy, a member of the Sun Belt Conference, is coached by Larry Blakeney, who seeks his sixth consecutive league title in this, his 21st year as leader of the program. Blakeney's team was idle last weekend, as its only game so far this season came back on September 3 and resulted in a 43-19 loss to Clemson.
"I saw some things that make me think that we are going to have a good football team," Blakeney said. "I am not saying we could have or should have beaten those guys, but there were some things that we could have done better and would have given us a chance to be in the game at the end."
Troy will begin Sun Belt action next week against Middle Tennessee.
As for Arkansas, it has outscored its first two opponents by a 103-10 margin, proof that the club has yet to be tested. Last week's romp over New Mexico by a 52-3 final in Little Rock was preceded by a 51-7 decision over FCS foe Missouri State the week before. While he wouldn't win many popularity contests among general college (or pro) football fans, there is no denying that Bobby Petrino is a tremendous coach.
"We came down here and did what we needed to do," Coach Petrino said. "We had a good week of preparation and we traveled well. The team did a good job of preparing for the trip down to Little Rock and getting mentally ready in the hotel."
Arkansas has won all three previous meetings with Troy, the most recent of which took place in 2009.
In the first half of the game against Clemson, the Troy offense played well. Shawn Southward scored on a one-yard touchdown run in the opening stanza, and the club added 10 more points in the second quarter, including a 16-yard scoring strike from Corey Robinson to Eric Thomas. Unfortunately, Troy managed only three points in the second half as Clemson ran away with the win.
When the dust settled, the Trojans had posted 423 total yards and held the ball for over 32 minutes. The club came away with points on all four of its trips to the red zone against a quality ACC opponent. Robinson performed fairly well under center, completing 24-of-42 passes for 258 yards with one touchdown and one interception. D.J. Taylor led the ground attack with 63 yards, while Justin Albert made six grabs to pace the receivers.
Defensively, Troy certainly could have played better against Clemson, especially over the final 30 minutes.
"When you play a big team like this, you can't play one half," said safety Bryden Trawick. "You have to be able to put four quarters together and I think that if we do that we are going to be alright."
The Trojans yielded 468 total yards in the affair and permitted five touchdowns, three of which came on passing plays.
That Troy defense will undoubtedly be tested by the explosive Razorbacks in this outing. Arkansas lost Ryan Mallett to the NFL Draft and saw star tailback Knile Davis suffer a serious injury before the start of this campaign, yet the club is still averaging 51.5 ppg and 549.0 total ypg. Tyler Wilson has completed 72 percent of his passes for 519 yards and three touchdowns against one interception, and he is expected to play this week despite a head injury. Jarius Wright figures to shake off some knee pain to play as well, good news considering that he already has 11 catches for 171 yards and three scores. Kody Walker has rushed for four touchdowns as the club's short-yardage and goal-line back.
The fact that Arkansas has yielded a mere 10 total points in eight quarters of football speaks volumes about the play of the defense. Just 3.0 yards per rush attempt are being permitted, and the pass defense yields just 9.1 yards per completion. Keep an eye on Jerry Franklin, as he has 14 tackles to his credit thus far.
Arkansas generated a whopping 632 total yards in the blowout victory over New Mexico last weekend. Wilson passed for 259 yards and Cobi Hamilton paced the receivers with five catches for 132 yards and a score.
"Cobi Hamilton likes Little Rock," Coach Petrino said. "His ability to catch the ball and run after is huge for us. So I thought he did a good job, getting open and finding open space after the catch."
With Wilson and Wright seemingly ready to go, Arkansas will continue to dominate offensively. Troy will be the best opponent that the Razorbacks have faced thus far, but the Trojans will fall by a significant margin.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas 44, Troy 20
09/14 10:38:02 ET