After being rated a title contender in the preseason but a huge disappointment by the time the 2012 season ended, Arkansas goes into 2013 seen as the likely cellar dweller in the Western Division.
That doesn't bother first-year coach Bret Bielema.
"The lower the better," Bielema said of the lowly predictions for the Razorbacks. "I think our kids are carrying a tremendous chip on their shoulder."
Bielema said he faced a similar situation when he took over at Wisconsin for Barry Alvarez. The Badgers were picked to finish in the second division of the Big Ten his first season.
"We went out and went 12-1," Bielema said. "I'm not saying we're going to go out and go 12-1.
"This team has all the ingredients as a head coach that can make teams win. I haven't been through an SEC schedule, through the stadiums, I haven't been through an away game schedule quite like the one we face.
"I do know this. We have a team that's very hungry, a group of coaches that are very gifted, we have a staff that is very talented and a lot of years to back that up."
One big difference: the Wisconsin team Bielema inherited had gone 10-3 the year before Bielema took charge and had beaten Auburn in the Capital One Bowl.
The Razorbacks are coming off a 4-8 year and have holes to fill everywhere, including at quarterback where Tyler Wilson departs. In the spring, there figured to be a two-way battle between sophomore Brandon Allen and senior Brandon Mitchell, but Mitchell transferred during the summer.
Bielema's offense is dependent on a cohesive line. Bielema is high on senior C Travis Swanson, calling him the best center in college football. Swanson, 6-5, 318, come into his final season with 38 career starts.
"I've had two centers that have jumped out early in the draft, both in their junior years the last two years," Bielema said. "I had one go first round to the Cowboys, one second round to the Falcons. I think Travis is any good as either one of those players, if not better."
The defense has some promising returnees, including ends Trey Flowers and Chris Smith and cornerback Tevin Mitchell, but asking it to carry the team while the offense gets its act together may be demanding too much.
SPOTLIGHT ON SEPTEMBER: Including a trip in Little Rock to play Samford on Sept. 7, the Razorbacks have four home games among their first five outings. The lone affair on an opponent's field is Sept. 21 at Rutgers. The Hogs open against a dangerous Louisiana-Lafayette team on Aug. 31 and host Southern Mississippi on Sept. 14. The month closes out with their SEC opener against Texas A&M Sept. 21 in Fayetteville.
KEYS TO SUCCESS: Quarterback Brandon Allen, who played in five games as a redshirt freshman in 2011, is going to have to live up to his promise and, just as important, stay healthy. The Razorbacks need to take advantage of their early schedule and post some wins before beginning a four-game run against Texas A&M, Florida, South Carolina, and Alabama on consecutive Saturdays.
AREAS OF CONCERN: From an inexperienced offensive line to a new quarterback to a lack of experienced receivers to a lack of depth at running back to a defense that has big questions at linebacker, the Razorbacks have many issues. The return aspect of special teams play also is at issue.