In the era of the College Football Playoff, one loss won’t ruin your season.
But go on a bad run, and you’re done.
With that in mind, we’re examining the most challenging stretches of games for all 14 teams in the SEC.
Next up in our series is Arkansas.
Toughest stretch: Oct. 7-28
The good news for the Razorbacks is that their nonconference schedule isn't exactly challenging. Sure, TCU is back on the slate, but a year after losing to the Hogs at home in double overtime, the Horned Frogs have to travel to Fayetteville.
That's the good news.
The bad news is that the teeth of the season comes smack dab in the middle of the schedule, as the entire month of October will make or break the Hogs. Things start with a trip to South Carolina. Now, South Carolina wasn't a world beater last season, and there's nothing that says the Gamecocks will be in 2017, but Will Muschamp certainly has a tough group coming back. A year removed from making a bowl game with a quarterback who should have been a senior in high school last fall, the Gamecocks will be pushing for that eight-win mark this year. Arkansas goes from cupcake New Mexico State to close out the month of September to face the Gamecocks at one of the SEC's most underrated venues -- Williams-Brice Stadium.
After that, it's off to Tuscaloosa to play reigning SEC champ and national championship runner-up Alabama. Arkansas hasn't beaten Alabama since 2006. For those counting at home, that's 10 straight wins for the Crimson Tide in this series. Alabama might have lost a lot of talent on defense, but when hasn't Alabama lost a lot of talent on defense Alabama won't be rebuilding, it'll once again be reloading, and the Hogs have to play a team that will be in rage mode every single week of the season after losing the national championship to Clemson.
Arkansas is back at home the following week against Bret Bielema's favorite foe -- Auburn. The Tigers are getting a lot of preseason love because of the arrival of Jarrett Stidham at quarterback and the improvement their defense made last season. Having this game at home will give Arkansas somewhat of an advantage, but from a pure talent standpoint, Auburn has the edge.
The four-game grind ends with a trip to Oxford to face Ole Miss. The Rebels aren't exactly coming off a banner season (5-7), but Ole Miss isn't void of talent on either side of the ball. Sophomore-to-be Shea Patterson could be a real star at quarterback, and Mississippi is loaded with talent at wide receiver, offensive line and defensive line. After a down year, the Rebels will be itching to prove last season was a mere bump in the road during the Hugh Freeze era.
But one thing to consider is that Bielema has had Ole Miss' number during his time at Arkansas. In four meetings with the Rebels, Bielema is 3-1 against Mississippi, winning three straight.