The Razorbacks pounded Auburn 27-10 last season and were a touchdown away from beating LSU and going undefeated in the league during the regular season. Coach Houston Nutt said that it's fine with him if the Hogs get no respect once again.
"You (the media) never pick us and that's okay," said Nutt at SEC Media Days. "We probably won't be picked again to get there this year. That's why this is the greatest game in the world. You've got to play it in between the white lines. We've got a good group coming back and it starts with Darren McFadden."
McFadden was last year's Heisman Trophy runner-up as a sophomore to quarterback Troy Smith of Ohio State. However, the talk of the town in Fayetteville has been about unhappy freshmen, phone call records and polls about support of the head coach.
"I think one thing that's been overshadowed is our championship run," Nutt said. "I've told our guys that it's hard to get that. It's really hard to get to Atlanta . They tasted that championship game and they just about tasted victory. They want back in that ball game with a chance to win.
"We do have some experience and we have some heart coming back," he added. "I'm excited that (safeties) Matt Hewitt and Michael Grant are back. Getting back to the offense, Darren McFadden is very, very special, as you know. He's very, very tough and he doesn't mind running over you. And he's got a tremendous stiff-arm."
The Arkansas offense, which will be run by new coordinator David Lee who comes from the Dallas Cowboys, must replace three starters on the offensive line to help pave the way for McFadden, Felix Jones and fullback Peyton Hillis. The Hogs also need improved quarterback play from Casey Dick.
"We lost a few on the offensive line and we've got a few guys that have to step up," Nutt noted. "We have (center) Jonathan Luigs back. We've got (guard) Robert Felton back. We have some very good guys back, but it's names you might not know."
Nutt also said that he expects senior Marcus Monk to set the school record for receiving touchdowns this year, something that shocked many media members in attendance because of Arkansas' penchant to run the football.
The Arkansas defense was one of the best in the league last season and extremely tough around the line of scrimmage. However, they lost All-SEC end Jamaal Anderson, tackling-machine Sam Olajubutu and shutdown corner Chris Houston.
Auburn plays at Arkansas on Oct. 13.