In terms of pure entertainment value, SEC football never really disappoints. We're now six weeks into the season and all hell is already breaking loose.
On the plus side, the SEC West is shaping up to be an epic traffic jam in which anyone - including the Razorbacks - could wind up on top. The bad news is that there are some very good teams standing in between us and that happening.
At this point, it's very hard to rank Arkansas anywhere higher than 5th in the conference. Let's take a closer look at the teams who are ahead of us and then the Hogs themselves:
Auburn: Ranked #7 nationally, the Tigers boast an explosive Malzahnian offense and a defense that, although not necessarily of the lockdown variety, seems to be able to stop teams when it counts. We love Ryan Mallett, but Cam Newton has staked a legitimate claim as the best QB in the conference so far this season. The dude is good. The game this Saturday is huge: win, and the Hogs are in great shape; lose, and all those lofty preseason dreams are basically over before the leaves have finished changing color.
South Carolina. The Gamecocks and Hogs both manhandled Alabama...the big difference is that Arkansas forgot that football games last for four quarters rather than three and South Carolina most definitely did not. These guys boast a stout defense, plus badass freshman RB Marcus Lattimore and explosive WR Alshon Jeffery. In the past the Razorbacks have benefited from the Cocks' annual tendency to collapse in November, but that that seems less likely this year. The trip to Columbia will be yet another season-defining game.
Alabama. The only one of the big four we've played already, and you know how that turned out. For mental health reasons, I've conditioned myself to not think about what could have been if we'd just held onto that 4th quarter lead, and I suggest you do the same (top 5 ranking...inside track to the BCS title game...dammit, stop that!).
LSU. We've given Les Miles and the Tigers plenty of well-deserved grief in this space, but the facts are getting hard to deny: they're undefeated, they control their own destiny in the conference and they are led by a madman who seemingly has powers to control both space and time. They've played by far the toughest schedule of anyone on this list, their defense is great and their offense showed major signs of life in the Swamp. In the Hogs' best case scenario, the Thanksgiving weekend game in Little Rock will be for the SEC West title, but of course the teams listed above may have a thing or two to say about that.
Arkansas: After five games, the Hogs remain a puzzling bunch...tons of potential, but they have yet to really play more than three quarters of a game. On the plus side, the defense and special teams both are surprisingly solid...on the minus side, the vaunted offense still hasn't gotten on track and fluctuates wildly between being exhilarating and exasperating. We are undoubtedly the best first-possession-of-the-game team in the nation, but the offensive gears have tended to completely grind to a halt in the 4th quarter. As noted earlier, the potential is still there for an epically great season, but things need to start clicking soon (ideally around 2:30 p.m. Central time this Saturday) to make that happen.