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Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Colorado State Rams Prediction and Preview

Arkansas Razorbacks RB Devwah Whaley

Arkansas Razorbacks RB Devwah Whaley

Arkansas could offer up another round of fireworks on both sides of the ball when it visits Colorado State on Saturday.

The Razorbacks (1-0) got off to a strong start with a 55-20 win over FCS foe Eastern Illinois in their season opener. They forced five turnovers, turning them into 24 points. Freshman LB Bumper Pool set the tone for the defense with six tackles, a fumble return, a pass breakup and a blocked extra point.

The Rams (0-2) are searching for answers after surrendering 44.0 points and 606.5 yards per game in their first two contests. Colorado State has fallen behind quickly in both of those games and proved unable to get enough stops to mount a comeback.

Colorado State has only two wins all time over current SEC teams. The Rams beat LSU in 1992 and knocked off Missouri in the 1997 Holiday Bowl. Arkansas has won all three previous meetings between the two schools.

Arkansas at Colorado State

Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 8 at 7:30 p.m. ET


Spread: Arkansas -12

Three Things to Watch

1. Storey's next chapter

New Arkansas coach Chad Morris built his credentials on an up-tempo offense at SMU. It appears that Morris may have found a quarterback with the tools to run it for the Razorbacks.

Ty Storey had a smashing debut after coming in for starter Cole Kelly. Storey threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns on 12-of-17 passing. His outing helped Arkansas survive a mediocre showing in the run game. The Razorbacks tallied just 80 yards on 37 carries on the ground, as Devwah Whaley, the starting running back, totaled only 28 yards on 10 attempts. 

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Storey's learning curve should be an easy one if Arkansas can build on what it did defensively against Eastern Illinois. The Razorbacks forced five fumbles to break the game wide open before the end of the second quarter. It was the most in a single game for Arkansas since 1998.

2. Can the Rams' pass defense recover?

In each of the team's first two games, Colorado State has been torched early and often by opposing quarterbacks. The end result is a defense that looks like one of the worst in the nation.

Hawaii ripped Colorado State apart in the season opener, rolling up 617 yards against the Rams. Cole McDonald threw for 418 yards and three touchdowns in his debut as starting quarterback. McDonald led Hawaii on scoring drives on all but one of its first-half possessions.

It didn't get much better last weekend against Colorado. The Rams were never competitive in the Rocky Mountain Showdown, as Buffs QB Steven Montez threw for 338 yards and four touchdowns. Montez matched Joel Klatt's school record of 12 straight completions to open a game and helped the Buffaloes roll up 596 total yards.

3. SEC in Colorado

It isn't a normal occurrence for a Mountain West team to host an SEC opponent in football. SEC teams have played Mountain West teams on the road just three other times since the conference was formed in 1999. Colorado State was in the right place at the right time to get a home-and-home with Arkansas.

The Razorbacks had an opening on their 2018 schedule after Michigan pulled out of a home-and-home series to resume its rivalry with Notre Dame. Colorado State had a $1.3 million guarantee game at Arkansas scheduled for 2019. The Rams offered to rework the contract and turn it into a straight home-and-home deal. Arkansas accepted and will play a Group of 5 team on the road for just the third time in the last 20 seasons.

For Colorado State, this is the team's first home game against an SEC opponent since 1981, when Mississippi State came west and beat the Rams 37-27. It won't be the last one, either. The Rams have home games against Vanderbilt in 2021 and 2026 as part of a four-game series with the Commodores.

Final Analysis

Colorado State is reeling after two losses in which opposing offenses piled up points and yards at will. It doesn't look to get any better this week. Arkansas is rebuilding its offensive identity under Morris and may experience some bumps in that transition, but playing the Rams won't be one of them. The Razorbacks should have no trouble keeping the momentum going back to Fayetteville.

College football rankings: Arkansas

Prediction: Arkansas 49, Colorado State 21

— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.