FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas is looking for a bounce-back season in 2019, beginning with an opening game against visiting Portland State on Saturday. The Razorbacks finished with a 2-10 record in their first season under coach Chad Morris, while the FCS Vikings finished 2018 with a 4-7 record.
TV: 4 p.m. ET, ABC. LINE: N/A
Morris will turn to either senior transfer Ben Hicks -- whom Morris coached while at SMU -- or junior Nick Starkel to take over at quarterback and try to improve an offense that averaged 21.7 points last season. Turnovers will be a big focus for the Razorbacks after they ranked in the bottom 10 in the country with a turnover margin of minus-10 last season. Getting the running game going would be a big help, as junior Rakeem Boyd will try to improve on his team-high 734 yards on the ground. Defense was a big problem for Portland State in 2018, as the Vikings allowed 36.2 points per game, including 67 points a game in two matchups with FBS opponents.
ABOUT PORTLAND STATE (2018: 4-7)
There is some talent on the Portland State squad, led by All-America tight end Charlie Taumoepeau. The senior played in just nine games last season but still led the team with 28 catches for 580 yards and five touchdowns. With quarterback Davis Alexander (1,786 yards, 11 TDs) back for his junior season, the two should be one of the more potent tandems in the Big Sky, with Taumoepeau being a good safety valve anytime Alexander gets into trouble.
ABOUT ARKANSAS (2018: 2-10)
The Razorbacks are excited about the potential of wide receiver Mike Woods this season. The sophomore had just 18 catches for 206 yards and a touchdown last season, but he's been showing signs of being a lead receiver for the team throughout preseason practices, including the annual Beanie Bowl team scrimmage. Woods had a touchdown catch on the first drive of the scrimmage, and he should be a solid target for either Hicks or Starkel.
1. Arkansas LB De'Jon Harris led the SEC in tackles in the regular season with 118 in 2018 and seems to be fully recovered from offseason foot surgery.
2. The Razorbacks are expecting big things from DT McTelvin Agim after he led the team with 10 tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles in 2018.
3. Arkansas has won 12 straight home openers and is 66-11-2 all-time in season openers played in Fayetteville.
PREDICTION: Arkansas 49, Portland State 10