THE RANKINGS: Arkansas and UNLV are each receiving votes in the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today preseason polls. In the ESPN/USA Today rankings, the Rebels earned 12 points and would rank 43rd while Arkansas has seven points to tie for 47th. In the AP poll, the Razorbacks have 22 points to rank No. 35 while Vegas has 12 points to tie for 37th.
COVERAGE: The game is being televised nationally by ESPN. MIKE TIRICO will provided the play-by-play while LEE CORSO and KIRK HERBSTREIT will fill the color commentator duties. DR. JERRY PUNCH is the sideline reporter.
THE SERIES: UA and UNLV meet for just the second time, and it happens to be in consecutive games. The Razorbacks and Rebels played in last year's Las Vegas Bowl with UNLV posting a 31-14 victory.
QUICK REMATCH: Arkansas and UNLV are meeting for just the second time, but those two meetings are coming in consecutive games. The two clubs met in last year's Las Vegas Bowl with the Rebels claiming a 31-14 victory.
AGAINST THE MOUNTAIN WEST: Arkansas is 6-1 all-time against teams that form the Mountain West Conference. The Hogs are 3-0 vs. Colorado State, 2-0 vs. New Mexico, 1-0 vs. Air Force and 0-1 vs. UNLV.
AT WAR MEMORIAL STADIUM: Beginning its 53rd season playing at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Ark., UA is 126-51-3 (.700). The Hogs have won all nine games played at War Memorial Stadium under head coach Houston Nutt.
SEASON OPENERS: Arkansas is 82-21-4 in season openers for a winning percentage of .785. The Razorbacks have won their last four openers.
HOME OPENERS: Arkansas' winning percentage in home openers is even better. In the first home game of the year, the Razorbacks have an all-time mark of 84-19-4 for a winning percentage of .804.
AUGUST GAMES: This year's Aug. 30 start date marks just the second time Arkansas has played a game in August. In its only other August contest, the Razorbacks dropped a 31-3 decision against Miami (Fla.) on Aug. 31, 1991, in Little Rock.
BOWL FOES: UNLV is the first of eight 2001 opponents which advanced to a bowl game last year. UNLV was Arkansas' opponent in the Las Vegas Bowl, Tennessee lost to Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl, 35-21; Georgia beat Virginia in the Oahu Bowl, 37-14; South Carolina beat Ohio State in the Outback Bowl, 24-7; Auburn fell to Michigan in the Florida Citrus Bowl, 31-28; Ole Miss lost to West Virginia in the Music City Bowl, 49-38; Mississippi State defeated Texas A&M in the Independence Bowl, 43-41, in overtime; and LSU downed Georgia Tech in the Peach Bowl, 28-14.
LAST YEAR'S SEASON OPENER: Quarterback ROBBY HAMPTON completed 17 of 22 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns in his debut as Arkansas shut out Southwest Missouri State, 38-0, in front of a crowd of 53,946 in Little Rock. I-AA SMS had just 98 yards of total offense. FRED TALLEY ran for 72 yards on 10 carries and CEDRIC COBBS had 57 yards on 18 rushes. Each scored a touchdown. Boo Williams had four receptions for 111 yards, including a 79-yard touchdown.
ARKANSAS HEAD COACH HOUSTON NUTT: In his fourth year as head coach at Arkansas, HOUSTON NUTT (Oklahoma State, 1981) has compiled a record of 23-13 with a record of 13-11 in Southeastern Conference play.
Under Nutt, Arkansas:
NUTT IN SEASON-OPENERS: In his career as a head coach, Houston Nutt is 5-2 in season openers (.714), including a 3-0 mark at Arkansas. He was 2-2 at Murray State, his opener at Boise State turned into a forfeit victory and at Arkansas he has notched victories over Southwestern Louisiana (38-17) in 1998, SMU (26-0) in 1999 and Southwest Missouri State (38-0) last season.
NUTT TOUGH AT THE ROCK: UA head coach Houston Nutt is undefeated in Little Rock. Since taking over the Razorback football program in 1998, Nutt is 9-0 at War Memorial Stadium. Nutt, who is 23-13 entering the season, is almost as tough in Fayetteville with a 9-2 mark.
NUTT'S NEW COACHING ADDITIONS: Three assistant coaches are making their debut as a part of HOUSTON NUTT's staff against the Rebels. Quarterbacks coach DAVID LEE, receivers coach and recruiting coordinator GEORGE PUGH and secondary coach DAVE WOMMACK will be coaching their first game for the Hogs under Nutt.
UNLV HEAD COACH JOHN ROBINSON: John Robinson, who is 11-13 in two years at UNLV, is the nation's ninth-winningest active coach with a career record of 115-48-4 (.701). His 8-1 bowl record gives him a higher postseason winning percentage (.889) than any college coach in history with a minimum of eight games. Robinson had two stints with Southern Cal. He first became head coach in 1976 and spent seven years leading the Trojans. His teams won 82 percent of their games (67-14-2) in his original run, averaging nearly 10 victories a year, including winning the 1978 national championship with a 12-1 mark. Along the way, he coached two Heisman Trophy winners (running backs Charles White in 1979 and Marcus Allen in 1981) and a Lombardi Award honoree (guard Brad Budde in 1979).
WEALTH OF EXPERIENCE: Arkansas head coach HOUSTON NUTT has compiled a staff long on coaching experience. Of the nine assistant coaches on the Razorback staff, seven have served as either an offensive or defensive coordinator or a head coach at a secondary institution.
REBEL PAST: Arkansas secondary coach DAVE WOMMACK served as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at UNLV from 1992-93 under then head coach Jim Strong. The Rebels posted a combined record of 9-13 during those two seasons.
TOUGH "D" AGAINST POTENT "O": Arkansas led the SEC and ranked 12th nationally in total defense last season, allowing 292.1 yards per game. UNLV ranked 13th in the nation in rushing offense with 227.8 yards per game. Will those numbers hold this season? The Razorbacks lost linebackers QUINTON CAVER and J.J. JONES and end RANDY GARNER to the NFL while the Rebels lost running backs Jeremi Rudolph (1,005 yards), Kevin Brown (798) and James Wofford (189), who combined to account for 1,992 of the team's 2,734 rushing yards.
THOMPSON'S DEFENSE: John Thompson is in his first season as Arkansas' sole defensive coordinator. Last year, in Thompson's first season on the staff, he and defensive line coach Bobby Allen shared the coordinator duties. He began the transition late in the season when the Razorbacks closed the year with wins over No. 13 Mississippi State and No. 24 LSU, holding the two to a combined 13 points.
THREE-HEADED TAILBACK: Forced by injuries last year to play multiple tailbacks, a trio of players produced, prompting UA head coach HOUSTON NUTT to claim he has three starters in the one position with the return of sophomore CEDRIC COBBS, junior FRED TALLEY and sophomore BRANDON HOLMES. The trio combined for 1,527 yards and 16 touchdowns on 318 carries, an average of 4.8 yards per rush. Talley led the team with 768 yards on 137 rushes (5.6), Holmes had 468 yards on 111 carries (4.2) and Cobbs 291 yards on 70 carries (4.2). Holmes scored seven touchdowns, Talley five and Cobbs four.
STEADY UP FRONT: Four of five starters return on the UA offensive line in 2001 giving the Hogs some experienced brawn up front. Junior center JOSH MELTON (20), senior right guard KENNY SANDLIN (24) and senior left guard LA'ZERIUS WHITE (24) have combined to start 68 consecutive games, while senior left tackle SHANNON MONEY has totaled 22 starting nods in the past two seasons.
RETURNEES: Arkansas has 17 starters and 48 lettermen back from last year's 6-6 club. Seven starters are back on offense, including five up front in guards KENNY SANDLIN and LA'ZERIUS WHITE, center JOSH MELTON, tackle SHANNON MONEY and tight end MARCELLUS POYDRAS. Also back are quarterback ROBBY HAMPTON and tailback FRED TALLEY, although Hampton is still recovering from rotator cuff surgery.
LOST HOGS: Eight starters are gone from last year, including receiver MICHAEL SNOWDEN, fullback ROD STINSON, tackle GARY HOBBS, defensive end RANDY GARNER, linebackers QUINTON CAVER and J.J. JONES and cornerback ORLANDO GREEN. Holder MATT BURSTEIN is also gone.
WELCOME BACK: Eight Razorbacks that saw their 2000 season come to an end prematurely because of an injury are back on the field for the Hogs in 2001. Wide receiver STEADMAN CAMPBELL (fractured left ankle), tailback CEDRIC COBBS (separated right shoulder), cornerback HAROLD HARRIS (sprained left wrist), defensive tackle PERVIS OSBORNE (left knee - ACL), defensive tackle JASON PETERS (dislocated right shoulder), tight end J. STRAIN (left knee - ACL), tailback FRED TALLEY (right knee - ACL) and wide receiver GEORGE WILSON (dislocated right shoulder) all are slated to play this season.
#4 CEDRIC COBBS (TB, 6-1,221, SO-1L)
CEDRIC COBBS returns to the field after missing a majority of the 2000 season with a right shoulder separation. He appeared in only three games last season, but still managed to gain 291 yards. He is a Doak Walker Award candidate for the nation's top running back and has been named to nearly every preseason All-SEC team.
* Returns to action after missing nine games of the 2000 season due to a right shoulder separation. He was granted a medical hardship and is listed as a sophomore once again in 2001.
* Named first-team preseason All-SEC by the league media, Blue Ribbon, Lindy's and The Sporting News.
* Earned 291 yards on 70 carries in only 11 quarters of action last season.
* Despite missing nine games, he was still the Hogs' third-leading rusher.
* Rushed for a career-high 174 yards against Boise State in 2000.
* Owns 959 career rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns on 186 carries in his Razorback career.
#7 BRANDON HOLMES (TB/FB, 6-2, 218, SO-1L)
A versatile weapon in the Razorback backfield, BRANDON HOLMES will see time at fullback and tailback this season. He is currently listed as the starting fullback and a co-starter at tailback on the depth chart.
* Named to the Rivals.com True Freshman All-America team.
* Tallied 468 yards and a team-leading seven touchdowns on 111 carries as a freshman in 2000.
* Gained 238 yards and three touchdowns on 58 carries in the final two games of the 2000 season after earning only 230 yards on 53 attempts in the previous nine contests.
* Rushed for a career-high 143 yards and a touchdown on 42 carries in an upset win over No. 24 LSU last season.
#8 RICHARD SMITH (FL, 5-10, 184, SO-1L)
RICHARD SMITH returns to the gridiron after posting the most prolific freshman campaign at wide receiver in UA history. Smith caught a school record 33 passes for 320 yards last season. He will once again be a staple in the Hogs' wide receiving corps.
* Named to Freshman All-SEC team by league coaches in 2000.
* Set a UA record with 33 catches as a freshman last season. He earned 320 yards and one touchdown.
* Recorded at least two catches in 10 of Arkansas' 12 games last season.
* Competed for legendary UA track and field coach John McDonnell in the spring.
#57 KENNY SANDLIN (OG, 6-3, 313, SR-3L)
A mainstay on the UA offensive line for the past two seasons, KENNY SANDLIN is primed for an all-star campaign in 2001. He could see time at both guard and center depending on the rest of the UA linemen configuration.
* Selected first team preseason All-SEC by The Southeastern Post and
voted second team by league media members.
* Started 24 consecutive games at offensive guard.
* Anchored a line that produced five different 100-yard rushing games by three different UA running backs in 2000. No other SEC school featured more than two.
* Shed 17 pounds since the end of the 2000 campaign.
FRED TALLEY (TB, 5-9, 180, JR-1L)
FRED TALLEY has made remarkable progress in his effort to rehabilitate his right knee from a season-ending ACL injury last November. He sat out spring practice, but has been healthy throughout the preseason. Last season, Talley provided the Hogs a spark when he rushed for 768 yards in eight games.
* Returns to the field after surgery on his right knee (ACL) at the end of last season.
* Led Arkansas in rushing last season with 768 yards on 137 carries.
* Turned in the best three-game consecutive rushing efforts in UA history against Auburn (161), Ole Miss (214) and Tennessee (142) in 2000.
* Became first UA running back since James Rouse (1989) to earn three 100-yard rushing games in a season.
* Sophomore ZAK CLARK is scheduled to start the season opener at quarterback. Clark made two starts last season.
* Junior quarterback ROBBY HAMPTON is likely to be out until at least mid-season while recovering from offseason right shoulder surgery.
KEN HAMLIN (FS, 6-2, 197, S0-1L)
The only UA freshman to ever lead the Razorbacks in tackles, KEN HAMLIN returns in 2001 to anchor the Hogs' secondary. Hamlin racked up 104 tackles last season and became the first freshman and only the second defensive back to pace the Razorbacks in stops. He is a preseason candidate for the Jim Thorpe Award, recognizing the nation's top defensive back.
* Tabbed as second-team preseason All-SEC by The Birmingham News, the Southeastern Post and the league media. Preaseason candidate for Jim Thorpe Award
* Named Freshman All-America by The Sporting News and the Football News in 2000.
* Selected to both the Knoxville News-Sentinel and SEC Coaches' Freshman All-SEC squads.
* Became first UA freshman in school history to lead Arkansas in tackles with 104.
* Became only the second defensive back (Kenoy Kennedy) to lead the Razorbacks in tackles.
CARLOS HALL (DE, 6-4, 261, SR-3L)
One of the Hogs' leaders on defense, CARLOS HALL is poised for a breakout season in 2001. A preseason honorable mention All-American, he earned seven tackles for loss (-21) last season.
* Named a preseason honorable mention All-American by Street and Smith's.
* Totaled 43 tackles last season including seven for lost yardage (-21). His TFL total ranked second on the squad only to All-SEC standout Quinton Caver.
* Senior SACHA LANCASTER switched back to the defensive side of the ball and is slated to play defensive end when he recovers from a sprained ankle suffered in practice (8/23).
* Arkansas has changed its defensive terminology since last season. The rover and bandit positions have been renamed strong safety and wolf (OLB) linebacker respectively.
* Sophomore EDDIE JACKSON has spent time at both cornerback and strong safety in the preseason. He is listed as the starter at boundary corner, but will play both positions.
RICHIE BUTLER (P, 6-1, 210, JR-2L)
Arguably the Hogs' most valuable player down the stretch in the 2000 season, RICHIE BUTLER returns to the field as one of the nation's top punters. A candidate for the 2001 Ray Guy Award (nation's top punter), Butler is coming off a season which saw him earn second team All-SEC honors.
* Named to the preseason second-team All-SEC squad by members of the league's media.
* Preseason candidate for the Ray Guy Award, recognizing the naton's top punter.
* Earned second team All-SEC honors from The Associated Press, SEC Coaches' and The Sporting News last season.
* Ranked third in the SEC and 12th in the nation in 2000 with a 42.8 yards-per-punt average.
* Punted 65 times for 2,784 yards last season including 42 punts over 40 yards and 17 punts over 50 yards.
* Landed 17 punts inside UA opponents' 20-yard line including five such kicks against No. 24 LSU and three vs. Louisiana-Monroe and No. 25 Auburn.
SPECIAL TEAMS TIDBITS:
* Freshman walkon DAVID CARLTON is scheduled to handle kickoff duties for the Razorbacks this season.
* Sophomore quarterback DOWELL LOGGAINS is slated to see his first action as a Razorbacks as the holder for placements.
UP NEXT: Arkansas plays the first game in expanded and renovated Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville when the Razorbacks also open Southeastern Conference play on Sept. 8 against Tennessee. The 8 p.m. contest will be televised nationally by ESPN2.
RAZORBACK BROADCASTS ON THE INTERNET: Hog fans out of ARSN radio broadcast range can listen to Arkansas games through the services of Yahoo Broadcast.com. To get the UA football broadcasts, go to www.broadcast.com/sports/ncaa/arkansas and select "Football" from the "Arkansas Sports" pull-down menu. The broadcasts may also be accessed by going through UA's official athletic web site, www.hogwired.com.
HOGWIRED.COM: For on-line access to the latest information about Arkansas' men's athletic programs, log onto www.hogwired.com. The site features rosters, statistics, bios, etc., for all eight of UA's men's sports, along with the latest press releases and game notes from the UA Sports Information Office.