Ten games into the 2023 season and it’s hard to find anyone who believed Arkansas football would be in this position at this point in the year. Sam Pittman’s Hogs have only won three games and will not be bowl eligible for the first time in his tenure.
This week, instead of playing for bowl eligibility, they’re likely playing for Pittman’s future in Fayetteville. We don’t know if Pittman will be back at Arkansas next year or not. Most of the fanbase are adamant that they want him gone.
One thing is certain, though, if the Razorbacks go out and lose to an objectively bad Florida International (FIU) team, who sits at 4-6 on the year, Pittman’s tenure will likely come to an abrupt end. If the Hogs win, it likely means Pittman’s job is safe – for now.
Here’s three ways both of those scenarios could play out on Saturday night.
Why FIU wins: Bowl eligibility within reach
Entering Saturday’s game, FIU sits a 4-6 on the season. Much like Arkansas’ situation entering last weeks game against Auburn, the Panthers can’t afford to lose another game this season if they want to play in a bowl game.
The next game on FIU’s schedule is a very winnable meeting with Western Kentucky, meaning there’s a realistic path to bowl season for the Panthers. That extra motivation could be just what they need to give the Hogs all can they handle and keep this game competitive.
Why FIU wins: Hogs let go of the rope
Up until their embarrassing loss to Auburn last weekend, the Hogs had entered each game with bowl eligibility still being a realistic possibility. Now that playing in a bowl game is no longer possible, how will Arkansas respond?
In last weekend’s loss, the Razorbacks looked like a team that had nothing to play for. They looked like a team that let go of the proverbial rope. They lacked energy, physicality and, as a result, were completely dominated for four quarters.
Now that they truly don’t have anything to play for, aside from Sam Pittman’s job security, it’s possible they could look just as bad – or worse – than last week. If that happens, Florida International could make it a game.
Why FIU wins: Fan apathy
For a team that was 3-6 on the season, Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium had a surprisingly healthy amount of fans in attendance for last week’s game against Auburn. Sadly, they weren’t given an acceptable on-field performance from their home team.
As a result, this Saturday’s attendance will likely be the lowest of the year. Some websites have tickets listed for as low as four dollars per person – a huge markdown from face value. That indicates we could see a lot empty seats in Fayetteville this weekend, which only helps the visiting team – FIU.
Why Arkansas wins: Talent disparity
As was the case entering their games against Western Carolina and Kent State earlier in the year, Arkansas holds a huge talent advantage over FIU on paper. It’s not as big of an advantage when compared to those other two schools but it’s still rather large.