College Football Picks: Arkansas to Cover -33 & Make a Statement Against UTEP

Joe Gavazzi

Friday, September 4, 2015 7:51 PM GMT

Arkansas is a team that is quickly rising to the top and will host a much improved UTEP unit, as we offer you our college football pick and game preview.

UTEP vs. Arkansas (-33) 3:30 ET ESPNU
The Miners are in the 3rd year under HC Kugler.  The maiden voyage under Kugler in 2013 was a 2-10 SU ATS disaster, characterized by injuries, a lack of experience and a lack of depth.  Last year, the Miners turned it around with a 7-6 SU, 9-4 ATS record, behind 15 RS.  It did, however, culminate in a loss to Utah St. (21-6) in their Bowl game.  Last year’s stats indicate the Miners were a more than competitive team.  But, they faced a “minor league” schedule of CUSA teams.  Key meeting from last year’s preseason games was a 58-28 loss at Kansas St., when they were outrushed 188-59. Though, the Miners showed improvement in the last year.  They have been vulnerable at the point of attack in each of the previous 2 seasons.  In 2013, UTEP allowed 248/6.2 overland and last year, still allowed 179/5.3 against the rush.  That is a bad omen, as only 5 defensive starters return to that unit this season.   Furthermore, when looking at the rushing statistics of the ground-oriented Hogs, it presents even more of an issue.

This is an Arkansas team which is rising quickly under 3rd year HC Bielema.  Bielema inherited a 4-8 SU, 2-8 ATS disaster from the problem-ridden one year regime of John L. Smith.  Transitioning the Razorbacks to a running team, the Hogs felt the growing pains in a 2013 season that saw them go 3-9 SU, 4-7 ATS.  They were winless in the SEC, outscored 31-21, but there were signs of hope for the ground game that averaged 209/5.3.  Last year,  in the 2nd year of the Bielema regime, the Hogs improved to 7-6 SU, 9-3 ATS.  They outscored the opposition by a 32-19 average, DOUBLERUSHED their opponents 218/5.1 to 114/3.5 for the season and set the positive trend in motion for this 2015 campaign.  Among last year’s non-con wins was a 52-14 home field victory vs. a quality N. Illinois team and a 45-17 wipeout of UAB.  They built momentum for the season with a 31-7 victory vs. Texas in their Bowl game in which they outrushed the Longhorns 191 to 2.  With only Toledo on deck, the Razorbacks are ready to carry forward their momentum and make a statement in Week 1.  Though RB Williams will miss this contest, his running mate, RB Collins, and a plethora of reserve RBs are capable of carrying the load.  They are balanced by QB Allen, who had a 20/5 ratio for the season.  Of equal importance is that improved defense could once again be a team strength.

Keep an eye on the Hogs this year and especially in this Week 1 statement game, as they prove they are a force with which to be reckoned in SEC West play.  If they do not DOUBLERUSH UTEP this week (a 75% chance to cover their College Football Odds), you’ve got a major scoop.

Free College Football Pick: Arkansas -33 at The Greek