- Associated Press - Friday, September 18, 2015

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Brandon Allen remembers all too well the heartbreak and letdown following his last devastating loss in Little Rock.

The Arkansas quarterback is superbly confident this season, however, won’t mirror the disappointment that ensued after an upset loss to Louisiana-Monroe in 2012.

Following another shocking loss at War Memorial Stadium last week, this one to Toledo, the once-promising Razorbacks (1-1) return home to Fayetteville to host Texas Tech on Saturday night.

It’s a game full of story lines, particularly following Arkansas’ 49-28 dismantling of the Red Raiders (2-0) a year ago in Lubbock - a game in which the Razorbacks rushed for 438 yards in their coming-out party under coach Bret Bielema.

The return game has seemingly become a referendum for Bielema.

Allen believes this year’s Razorbacks are much more capable of earning a vote of confidence than the 2012 team that went on to finish 4-8.

“This is a setback, but I don’t think anyone is jumping off the ship or anything,” Allen said. “This team has a bunch of leaders, a bunch of guys pushing it along, and the leaders and the guys’ mindset on the team, we’re not letting this affect the rest of our season.”

While Arkansas has spent much of this week answering questions about its shocking loss to the Rockets, Texas Tech has focused solely on its second chance at the Razorbacks - even if coach Kliff Kingsbury hasn’t said much to the Red Raiders about last season’s punishing loss.

“I don’t have to, they know what that was,” Kingsbury said. “You don’t forget a beating like that. So there are not a bunch of rah-rahs about last year. They know what that was.”

Some things to watch as Arkansas tries to recover from last week’s stunning loss:

MISSING PIECES: Arkansas entered the season with questions about its wide receiving corps, a group that enters Saturday without two of its most experienced receivers. Senior Keon Hatcher injured a foot in last week’s loss and is out at least six weeks, while junior Cody Hollister broke a foot in practice Tuesday and is also out following surgery. The two combined for 56 catches for 695 yards last season.

CANTRELL’S BACK: Texas Tech could also be without one of its most reliable receiving options for a third straight game, with junior Dylan Cantrell continuing to battle back spasms. Kingsbury said he might not decide until game time whether to play Cantrell, who had 20 catches for 312 yards last season.

RUSHING WOES: A year after averaging 5.1 yards per carry, Arkansas has gained only 4.4 yards per rush through two games. Junior Alex Collins has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, but he had only 54 yards on 20 carries in last week’s loss. The Razorbacks have spent much of this week preaching a return to their physical roots, and they hope Texas Tech’s 120th-ranked rush defense (272 yards allowed per game) provides the medicine they need.

MAHOMES’ EMERGENCE: Patrick Mahomes didn’t play in last season’s loss to Arkansas before taking over as the Red Raiders quarterback in the second half of last season. This season, the sophomore has embraced his leading role in the high-flying Texas Tech offense - throwing eight touchdowns and only one interception through two games while ranking second in the country with 786 yards passing.

AIR ARKANSAS: Under Bielema, the Razorbacks have been known as a run-first team. However, with the running game struggling in the first two games, it’s been Allen who has emerged as the backbone of Arkansas’ offense. The senior is fifth in the country with an average of 366 yards passing per game, including back-to-back career bests of 308 and 412 yards through the air.


Associated Press writer Betsy Blaney in Lubbock, Texas, contributed to this report.

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