By Otis Kirk
ESPN has released what it considers the 10 easiest non-conference football schedules for the 2019 season.
The SEC has four schools among the Top 10 including Arkansas sitting at No. 4 which is only behind Baylor, Indiana and Illinois. Others from the SEC are Kentucky (5), Alabama (6) and Tennessee (9).
Arkansas will host Portland State on Aug. 31, Colorado State Sept. 14, San Jose State Sept. 21 and Western Kentucky Nov. 9. All four of those games will be played in Fayetteville and each of them struggled in 2018.
Portland State finished 4-7, Colorado State 3-9, San Jose State 1-11 and Western Kentucky 3-9. Colorado State did defeat the Razorbacks 34-27 in Fort Collins last fall in the second week of the season.
Chris Low explained his thoughts on Arkansas’ place on the list.
The Hogs could easily be sitting at the top of these rankings, as they don’t leave Fayetteville for a nonconference game. And for the second straight season, they won’t face a Power 5 opponent out of conference. But at least there’s an excuse: Arkansas originally had a home-and-home series set up with Michigan in 2018 and 2019, but the Wolverines ponied up $2 million to get out of the deal so that they could renew their rivalry with Notre Dame.
Arkansas faces Kentucky and Alabama this fall, but doesn’t play Tennessee. The Hogs are coming off a 2-10 season and looking to make big strides in 2019.
Among the 10 losses last season was a disappointing 44-17 beating by North Texas in Reynolds Razorback Stadium. No one entering the 2018 season expected the Hogs to lose to Colorado State and North Texas so while ESPN may rate the schedule an easy one, the Hogs know there’s traps each week.
Kentucky will face Toledo, Western Michigan, Tennessee-Martin and Louisville. Alabama will take on Duke, New Mexico State, Southern Miss and Western Carolina. Tennessee has Georgia State, BYU, Chattanooga and UAB on its schedule.
Arkansas does travel to Notre Dame in 2020 and hosts Texas in 2021. Here’s a look at future Arkansas opponents.