I was talking to my friend Chope, a fellow Razorback expat, about the Cotton Bowl the other day and realized that I have two very distinct thoughts about how the game will turn out.
My head tells me that the Hogs will almost definitely lose. First of all, Razorbacks + bowl game = loss just about every time, so that's a safe bet. On top of that, we're playing a really good Missouri team...a team that came one game away from playing for the national title but instead wound up out of the BCS entirely (and angry about it). Plus, that Missouri team happens to be the exact type - ultra precise passing offense, lots of playmakers - that gives our defense fits.
And if that weren't enough, the weeks between the LSU game and now have seen an almost complete turnover of the coaching staff, an often ridiculous and always drama-filled search for a new coach, and even late-breaking allegations that Darren McFadden won't be eligible for the game. Any of these factors alone ought to be enough to make a thinking man pick against the Hogs, so my head says no way.
My heart is telling me something else entirely. It's telling me that in spite of all the insanity that has swirled around this team for the past two years, when they play up to their potential they are really good. As in, "can beat anybody at any time" good...when we last saw these Hogs, they were marching into one of the toughest stadiums in the country and beating the #1 team up and down the field.
And the majority of our coaching staff may have fled across the Mississippi to Oxford, but my heart believes that Reggie Herring is just the man to rally the troops for one last battle. And it remembers seeing Casey Dick complete big pass after big pass (and throw a big block) against LSU, and feels that, with David Lee having free reign to call the plays, maybe we'll finally have that elusive offensive balance.
And most importantly, my heart is reminding me that any time Darren McFadden takes the field, just about anything is possible. Cliche, yes, but it's also true. 300 yards? 4 TDs rushing and 2 passing? Proving that he's the best QB on either team? None of it would really surprise me...and my heart would like to believe that, despite any possible urge to play it safe and not get hurt before the NFL draft, D-Mac will "bring the wood" to show ESPN, Tim Tebow and the world just who the best player in college football is.
So which is it? I'm a Razorback fan, so you know it's not the head...I say we win in a shootout. Go Hogs!