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Arkansas isn’t doing the bad-start-and-good-finish thing this year, huh? Uh-oh!

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NCAA Football: Arkansas at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a running joke for more than two years now that Bret Bielema’s Arkansas teams start slowly, as all large things do, before their massive bodies accumulate enough momentum to barrel over opponents.

That could be kind of the case again in 2016, with 2-0 Arkansas currently four points away from being 0-2 in September.

But the Hogs are 2-0 instead, with a win at TCU that could remain impressive by season’s end. This is Arkansas’ best September in a long time.

The records alone over the last two years tell a part of the story. Bielema is 7-3 against Power 5 opponents in November and December, but 3-7 (plus a loss to the MAC’s Toledo) against Power 5 teams in August, September, and October. His first year, 2013, didn’t feature such a stark turnaround in the win-loss column, but his rookie Razorbacks did go from a 52-0 Bama blowout in October to four straight competitive SEC games in November.

Also consider the following, which shows Arkansas’ performance in each month, relative to overall season quality:

Comparing Arkansas’ actual scoring margins in 2014 and 2015 to the scoring margins that would’ve been predicted by full-season S&P+.
Data by Bill Connelly

This says that, over the last two years, late-season Arkansas has performed about 12 points better than early-season Arkansas.

Arkansas is undefeated (barely, but still) and ranked in September (also barely, but also still), meaning BERTSMAS* CAME EARLY. If trends hold, then the sky is now the limit, and everyone is doomed. If we reset the calculations, based on anticipated Arkansas improvement, then 2016’s NOVEMBERT* should go as follows:

This team is suddenly good at winning close games, exorcising demons in real time, and winning hearts to the cause of large-person football. The schedule only gets tougher overall, but Hogs only get mightier as holiday meals draw nigh.

* In case you’re unfamiliar, #BERT is a Twitter nickname for Bielema. I have no real idea why. People blurt it online whenever he does something especially Bielema, such as beating a team whose entire state he’s offended in the recent past.

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