Game Preview: Rutgers at Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Rutgers is coming off a statement victory over South Florida and Arkansas is in trouble after an ugly 52-0 loss to No. 1 Alabama. Both have eyes on conference games ahead, but need a win for different reasons tomorrow night on ESPNU.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Rutgers faces its most high-profile non-conference opponent of the season in the form of Arkansas. Already 2-0 at night this season, the Scarlet Knights (3-0, 1-0) face a Razorback team fresh of a 52-0 loss to No. 1 Alabama.
Rutgers (3-0, 1-0) at Arkansas (1-2, 0-1)

Time: 7:02 p.m., Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, Ark.
TV/Radio: ESPNU, 710-WOR, 1450-AM, 610-WIP, 88.7 WRSU
Series: First Meeting
Last meeting: First Meeting
Coaches: Rutgers – Kyle Flood (1st Season, 3-0); Arkansas – John L. Smith (1st season, 1-2)


  • What a Mess.While Rutgers is riding one of its biggest hot streaks since 2006, Arkansas is on the verge of collapse. Beginning the year as a top-10 team, there were thoughts in Razorback country of a shot at the BCS Title. Now after a lost to UL Monroe and a 52-0 embarrassment against Alabama, Arkansas will be hard-pressed to make a bowl game in Smith's first season as Bobby Petrino's replacement.

  • First-Year Coaches. Flood and Smith each became successors to top college coaches in the offseason, with awkward timing and national attention surrounding both changes. Flood is off to a strong start, stronger then Greg Schiano's first year with Rutgers, whereas Smith is in trouble. He has 17 of Petrino's starters back from last season, but has done nothing but disappoint in his first month of games.

  • All Eyes on Quarterback. Arkansas All-SEC quarterback Tyler Wilson (concussion) will start. Severely limited in practice this week while awaiting medical clearance, Wilson could be the spark the Razorbacks need to right the ship. He called his team quitters when speaking to the media after the Alabama game and his availability for kickoff may make or break the game.

Scouting Arkansas

The Razorbacks offense got stuck in the mud last week without Wilson playing. After losing Wilson midway through the UL Monroe game, Arkansas has just 13 points of offense. There are multiple options behind Wilson at quarterback, including a Wildcat package, but the offense has yet to experience success without him. Coming off a concussion, putting in Wilson against a defense like Rutgers with a reputation of getting to the quarterback is a huge risk. Keep an eye on the dynamic Chris Gragg. Gragg is the preseason All-SEC tight end and will create matchup problems for the Rutgers defense.

Quarterback Tyler Wilson
Defensively, Arkansas is off to a brutal start. The Razorbacks gave up 34 to ULM and 52 to No. 1 Alabama. A nine-man rotation up front will be a speed test for the Rutgers offensive line. Still struggling with procedural penalties, Rutgers desperately needs to improve its discipline against an SEC defense in front of 70,000 fans. Keep an eye on linebacker Ross Roasner, who is off to a solid start defensively. Rasner can play linebacker or safety and has shown consistency in the first three games.

Matchup to Watch
DE Marcus Thompson and Ka'Lial Glaud vs. Arkansas tackles. It is a classic speed vs. size battle off the edge this weekend. Thompson and Glaud needs to get to the quarterback, and they have no chance by trying to match the hulking offensive line's strength. Speed rushing has always been what Rutgers does and it needs to happen this week against a mountain of an offensive line.

What Rutgers Must Do Offensively
Ride the Hot Hand.Jawan Jamison has not shown signs of slowing down and he needs to keep touching the ball until someone can stop him. Give it to him 35 times to move chains and set up deep balls against an unsettled secondary.

What Rutgers Must Do Defensively
Swarm the Quarterback.Rutgers needs to make Wilson's return a tough one. Hit the quarterback often and keep him from getting into his rhythm. Wilson will not be in top playing shape if he plays and could fall apart if he is hit early and often. Allow an All-SEC quarterback time in the pocket and he will pick you apart all day.

Three keys for a Rutgers win
WR Brandon Coleman
1. Big Plays. It will be a huge challenge to put drives together against the Arkansas defense. Whether it is through trickery or perfect execution, Rutgers needs big scoring plays to put up points.

2. Keep Nova Comfortable. The offensive line has been outstanding in keeping pressure off of starting quarterback Gary Nova, with the only sack coming on intentional grounding. This is the toughest defensive line Rutgers has seen so far and the tackles will need to preserve the pocket for Nova to make plays.

3. Crowd Control. Rutgers had penalty problems at Raymond James Stadium in front of 35,000 fans. Arkansas expects twice that for kickoff and the pig chants will be out in full force for a fan base desperate for a win.

Three keys for an Arkansas win
1. Play Wilson. With Wilson cleared, he is the emotional spark the Razorbacks need. There is more than enough talent, but it may be tough to dust themselves off from a 52-0 blowout without Wilson's presence in the huddle.

2. Deep Balls. Rutgers is still vulnerable to the deep ball, surrendering multiple big passing plays against B.J. Daniels and South Florida last week. Arkansas has three deep threats at wide receiver, led by Cobi Hamilton.

3. Don't Look Ahead. Arkansas starts its SEC schedule next week, but cannot afford to hold anything back tomorrow night. Try to preserve any players or part of the game plan against Rutgers and the Razorbacks are in trouble..

Arkansas 34, Rutgers 27

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