FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas is looking for an offensive spark after totaling 37 points in its 1-1 start. Coach Chad Morris is hoping a switch at quarterback will provide most of that lift as the Razorbacks are turning to junior transfer Nick Starkel for Saturday's home non-conference game against Colorado State.
TV: 4 p.m. ET, SEC Network. LINE: Arkansas -9
Starkel, a former starter at Texas A&M, took over for senior Ben Hicks in the second half of Saturday's 31-17 loss at Ole Miss and completed 17-of-24 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown. Hicks completed 7-of-16 throws for 98 yards in the opening half a week after struggling through a 14-of-29, 143-yards, no-TD outing in a 20-13 win over FCS-member Portland State. "It wasn't so much what Ben did or didn't do, it's what Nick did," Morris said at his weekly Monday news conference. "We were looking for a spark, something to get our offense moving, to create some momentum, create some yards, give an opportunity for some big plays. That was our decision going into it, and Nick will be our starter." Colorado State, meanwhile, is also off to a 1-1 start and will be looking to sweep the home-and-home series after rallying from a 27-9 second-half deficit last season for a 34-27 upset victory in Fort Collins, Colo.
ABOUT COLORADO STATE (1-1)
The Rams have displayed a potent aerial attack so far, averaging 385 yards per game, which ranks seventh nationally. Junior quarterback Collin Hill has completed 70.5 percent of his passes with seven TDs and two interceptions and has only been sacked twice, while hooking up with three different pass-catchers (WRs Dante Wright and Warren Jackson and RB Marvin Kinsey Jr.) for 100-yard games. Defensively, safety Jamal Hicks (team-most 16 total tackles) and defensive tackle Ellison Hubbard (team-leading 3.5 sacks) have stood out on a unit which has been more effective against the pass (191.5 yards allowed) than the run (153.5 yards) so far.
ABOUT ARKANSAS (1-1)
Starkel is set to make his first start since the 2017 Belk Bowl when the then-Texas A&M redshirt freshman completed 42-of-63 passes for 499 yards, four TDs and an interception in the Aggies' 55-52 loss to Wake Forest. Starkel's chief allies will be tailback Rakeem Boyd (35 carries,185 yards, 1 TD) and wide receivers Trey Knox and Mike Woods, who've combined for 18 receptions for 240 yards. Defensively, Arkansas has forced five turnovers but has struggled against the run, allowing an average of 156 yards per outing, and is led by linebacker Bumper Pool (15 total tackles, one pass defensed).
1. Last season's loss was Arkansas' first in four meetings against Colorado State and just its second in 16 games against Mountain West Conference foes.
2. The Rams are 3-13 against the current members of the SEC and have struggled with turnovers so far this season, giving the ball away six times (two interceptions, four fumbles).
3. Arkansas outrushed CSU 299-40 in last season's meeting, but former CSU QB K.J. Carta-Samuels completed 32-of-47 passes for 389 yards and a pair of TDs.
PREDICTION: Arkansas 31, Colorado State 20