When Arkansas fans dreamed of the moment the Razorbacks finally beat their dreaded arch-nemesis, surely most of us figured it would feel a little more triumphant. Instead, following a sloppy lightning-delayed game in which the Hogs both made big plays and exhibited the same frustrating tendencies that have dogged them all season long, it felt more like exhausted relief.
Of course, feeling relieved but not exuberant afterwards was much better than the alternative. Had the Rebel Black Bears managed to pull out a Nutty victory (and let's be honest: when the Rebs were, ahem, storming back in the early fourth quarter the notion of a typically bizarre Houston Nutt multi-OT win didn't seem too far-fetched) it would have been one of the most brutal losses in Razorback history. As in, ever.
Blowing a three-touchdown second half lead to the *somewhat* controversial former coach (whose team had lost to D-IAA Jacksonville State just weeks earlier) and in the process dropping to last place in the SEC after all the high expectations going into this season would have been too horrible to even consider further. So yes, relief is appropriate.
Looking at the bigger picture, Saturday's torturous, grind-it-out victory feels like a metaphor for this not-all-that-much-fun season. Doesn't it seem like the team hasn't really gotten fully on track yet this year? For all its talent and flashes of serious brilliance, the offense has yet to reach its potential - the frequent second half stagnations are proof of that. And despite being improved over last year's unit, the defense is still not up to SEC par - they gave up more than 500 yards (at home, in the rain) to an extremely average Ole Miss offense.
I'm usually the optimistic sort of fan, so I hate to sound complainy about a team that's 5-2 and still has the potential to turn in a great year. From the winning Mallett-to-Childs pass against Georgia to Joe Adams' 97-yard punt return on Saturday, there have been plenty of 'jump out of your seat' moments already. Our only losses are to two really good teams, so no shame there, and every team left on the schedule is beatable (although a lot of them could beat us too - such is life in the SEC). So why does it feel like such a grind so far? Am I the only one who feels this way?
Tell us what you think - and share your predictions for the rest of the season - in the comments section.