One coach was forced out after two straight eight-win seasons and his replacement was poached in the middle of the season -- and the middle of the night -- from the NFL. In the meantime, the old coach moved to a rival in the same division. Now, the Houston Nutt-led Ole Miss is pegged as a surprise team in the SEC while the Bobby Petrino-led Arkansas is favored to be the worst team in the division and the worst team in the conference whose name does not begin with a "V."
Just another offseason in Fayetteville.
O-line. The line was pretty good for the Razorbacks, though a relatively small number of pass attempts and a pair of incredible running backs helps you look really good. Rimington winner Jonathan Luigs returns at center, but Arkansas also loses a couple of high-impact starters. Oh, and the offense is completely different. ADVANTAGE: SOUTH CAROLINA
Quarterback. Hooray! Casey Dick is back! Last year: 150-of-262, 1,695 yards, 18 TDs, 10 INTs. You know a quarterback is good when the coaching staff looks at him and says, "I think we'd actually be a better team if he weren't on the field," which is what Houston Nutt and Co. did several times last year. And Darren McFadden did have a better QB rating than Dick. ADVANTAGE: SOUTH CAROLINA
Running back. Darren McFadden is gone. Felix Jones is gone. Peyton Hillis is gone. No one returning to the Razorbacks had 50 carries last year. Oh, and they won't get too many more than that in the new, pass-based system. ADVANTAGE: SOUTH CAROLINA
Wide receiver. Who knows? The primary mission of receivers for the last few years has been: "Block for McFadden and Jones. Unless you're Marcus Monk, and then just run a go route." None of the returning wideouts had even 20 catches to their name in 2007. ADVANTAGE: SOUTH CAROLINA
Defensive line. The Hogs managed just 23 sacks last year, or 1.85 sacks per game -- tied for 73rd in the FBS. Three starters return, all with at least 10 TFL in 2007, which is better than South Carolina. ADVANTAGE: ARKANSAS
Linebackers. Freddie Fairchild had 9.5 TFL in 2007, 4.5 of them sacks. He was also third on the team with 92 tackles. And now he's gone. None of the other expected starters has done much to commend themselves. ADVANTAGE: SOUTH CAROLINA
Secondary. They return no starters from 2007. None. Zero. This could be a major blow to the Razorback defense: Their pass efficiency defense was second in the nation, holding opponents to a 97.68 QB rating. ADVANTAGE: SOUTH CAROLINA
Well, their biggest kick return threats were -- you guessed it -- Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. But K Alex Tejada wasn't bad on FGs (73.9 percent) and Jeremy Davis averaged 40.1 yards on punts. Both are back. ADVANTAGE: PUSH
This is a tough one, mostly because we really don't know how good a head coach Petrino is. Sure, he had four good years in Louisville -- but first it was Louisville in Conference USA, and then it was Louisville in a watered-down Big East. He did win a Big East crown in 2006, but a loss to Rutgers cost him a chance at the BCS title. Then again, look at Louisville in the first year after his departure. Still, we have a longer record with Spurrier, and we know he's capable of sustaining success once he's achieved it. ADVANTAGE: SOUTH CAROLINA
McFadden and Jones beat us last year. No other way to put it.
WARNING: VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED, due to the violence committed upon South Carolina's defense and Tyrone Nix's reputation.
That said, Arkansas has never been a team South Carolina can afford to overlook. It doesn't really matter how good or bad each team is; the game is always entertaining. Even if the entertainment comes from watching Darren McFadden do sprints. In any case, this year, this should be a victory. Should be. LIKELY WIN
THE REST OF THEIR SEASON
There's a reason that the Hogs are expected to be last in the SEC West: They're not a very good team. At least, they don't look like it. Supplement the usual division slate of Auburn, LSU and a potentially resurgent Alabama with Florida, at Kentucky and at South Carolina from the East. Sprinkle in an out-of-conference game against Texas. Even with a split of the Mississippi teams, the Hogs are still a long way from a winning season. 4-8