Preview: UL Lafayette at Arkansas
Where: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, Arkansas
Arkansas kicks off a new era under head coach Bret Bielema, and seeks a seventh consecutive season-opening win as it hosts Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday. Bielema comes to the Razorbacks after seven seasons at Wisconsin and a career record of 68-24 that ranks eighth among active FBS head coaches. Looking to erase the memories of a disappointing 2012 campaign that ended with three consecutive losses, Arkansas starts the season with 10 new starters, including sophomore quarterback Brandon Allen.
Louisiana-Lafayette is fresh off a second consecutive New Orleans Bowl victory and back-to-back nine win seasons, which tied a school record. The Ragin' Cajuns return 14 starters, led by quarterback Terrance Broadway, who set school records for total offense (3,611 yards) and completion percentage (65.4) a year ago. Broadway gives Louisiana-Lafayette a dual threat under center, with his 769 rushing yards in 2012 helping to elevate Louisiana-Lafayette's running game to 34th in the nation, averaging 193.5 yards per game.
TV: 4 p.m. ET, ESPN3 LINE: Arkansas -10.5
ABOUT LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE (2012: 9-4, 6-2 Sun Belt): The Ragin' Cajuns are looking for a third consecutive winning season under head coach Mark Hudspeth and have been pegged as co-favorites - along with Louisiana-Monroe - to win the Sun Belt Conference in a preseason poll of league head coaches. Broadway was named to the Davey O'Brien and Manning Award preseason Watch Lists, while center Andre Huval is another Cajun receiving preseason recognition as a candidate for the Rimington Trophy. Louisiana-Lafayette's offensive line protected Broadway well last season, allowing only 13 sacks.
ABOUT ARKANSAS (2012: 4-8, 2-6 SEC): Bielema's debut coincides with an extensive revamping for Arkansas on both sides of the ball, as the Razorbacks are one of just three teams in the country replacing its 2012 leader in passing, rushing, receiving and tackles. Allen takes the helm under center with just one career start to his credit, a 52-0 defeat at the hands of No. 1 Alabama. Defensive end Chris Smith, named to the preseason All-SEC first team, recorded 9.5 sacks in 2012.
Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin` Cajuns Trends:
When playing in August are 0-5
When playing on turf are 7-3
After outgaining opponent are 7-3
When playing outside the conference are 6-4
Arkansas Razorbacks Trends:
When playing in August are 2-0
When playing on turf are 5-5
After outgaining opponent are 6-4
When playing outside the conference are 7-3
A few Ragin` Cajuns at Razorbacks trends to consider:
Louisiana-Lafayette is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Louisiana-Lafayette's last 7 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Louisiana-Lafayette's last 6 games on the road
Arkansas is 17-5 SU in its last 22 games at home
Arkansas is 2-5 SU in its last 7 games at home
Arkansas is 2-6 ATS in its last 8 games at home
Arkansas is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games
Louisiana-Lafayette at Kansas State, Saturday, September 7
Arkansas home to Samford, Saturday, September 7
1. Arkansas is 4-0 all-time against Louisiana-Lafayette, having last hosted the Cajuns in 2002.
2. Louisiana-Lafayette is winless in 36 previous meetings with SEC opponents.
3. Bielema is 7-0 as a head coach in season openers, while the Razorbacks have won 14 of their last 15.
PREDICTION: Arkansas 27, Louisiana-Lafayette 17