This is a huge opportunity for the Pirates to take yet another step forward under head coach Skip Holtz. They have already pulled off enough upsets recently to keep them relevant for a little while (Virginia Tech, West Virginia 2008; Houston 2009). Arkansas is a program in the midst of rebuilding under Bobby Petrino. Ryan Mallett was a welcome addition at quarterback, transferring by way of Michigan last year. He is one of the few names at the top of 2011 pro quarterback prospects, and that is assuming he leaves after his junior season next year. He will be a Heisman favorite next season.
Player to watch:
Mallett. He has a cannon for an arm and an uncanny ability to lead an offense to a score when it most desperately needs one. Against LSU, Mallett tore apart the Tigers defense late to keep the Hogs alive, only to come up just short in overtime in Baton Rouge. The look in his eyes following that game showed a guy who couldn’t wait to get back onto the field and redeem himself and his team. Here’s his chance.
Who has the edge?
ECU is bursting at the seams with confidence after shocking favored Houston at home in the Conference USA title game. The Pirates are no stranger to big-name opponents, and they just stopped one of the most difficult passing attacks to contain in the country. However, Arkansas’ athletes across the board trump those of Houston’s, and the Pirates might have trouble with that.