Welcome to the SEC meatgrinder, Bret Bielema. This may be a tad, uh, painful for you and the Arkansas Razorbacks at the outset. Bielema faces a near-total rebuild of an offense that lost its starting quarterback, leading receiver, and top two rushers from a year ago. Those are far from the circumstances one would hope for in the first year.
2013 Arkansas schedule
Projections from Football Outsiders' 2013 college football almanac.
With a run of games against Louisiana, Samford and Southern Miss to begin the year, the schedule at least allows the team to build some confidence and chemistry before this scary part begins. A road trip to Rutgers rounds out the non-conference slate, and then it's hello, SEC!
The first half of the conference schedule is brutal, with home games against Texas A&M and South Carolina as well as road trips to Florida and Alabama. All four are projected to be top-16 teams by Football Outsiders' F/+ metric, and Alabama is the preseason No. 1. The Razorbacks get a chance to catch their breath after the Alabama game, and then they have what qualifies as a breather in the SEC West when they host Auburn.
More difficult road trips follow, though: Arkansas will travel to Ole Miss and end the season in Death Valley. The Razorbacks can get at least halfway to bowl eligibility during the out-of-conference portion of the schedule, but can they find the other two or three wins they need in that conference slate?