Is this weekend the end of the regular season or the beginning of the post-season for college football? I can't really tell. The Hogs are in the club house, but there are Big 12 teams still playing out their regular season schedule, OSU vs. OU being the most famous of them. Army vs. Navy still remains. Then you have the SEC, PAC 12, and Big Ten championship games to consider. Post-season, right? Whatever you want to call it, you certainly can't call it September. How fast the season has gone by! Tempus fugit, sports fans. But that is part of what makes college football so special, I think. It isn't a very long season compared to say the NBA (well, maybe not this year, haa) and major league baseball. With a shorter span, each game just takes on more and more meaning. The wins lift you higher, and the losses sink you deeper. As I was trying to pull myself out of the Hogs' most recent hole of despair (you know, the LSU loss), I jotted down some of my thoughts about the Hogs, last weekend in general, the weekend ahead, whatever you want to call it, and the looming bowl season.
* I'll start by saying how disappointed I was in the college football weekend that was. Of all those rivalry games, there really wasn't a great game in them. The Iron Bowl, a dud. Georgia vs. Georgia Tech, yuck. Florida vs. Florida State, pitiful. I guess Michigan vs. Ohio State had some thrill to it by looking at the final score. But I only had Tennessee vs. Kentucky at the time, which I am willing to label my favorite game. Twenty-six years is a long time to be another team's whipping boy. Congrats to Kentucky for getting a win and continuing the Vols' descent under Dooley. Somewhere the 1998 Razorbacks are enjoying this, I bet.
* I watched just bits and pieces of the Egg Bowl during Saturday night. But I was there to see Houston Nutt's last coached play at Ole Miss and maybe anywhere (though I suspect he will get another job). Do you know what happened on that last play? Ole Miss's quarterback got creamed! Very apropos, I think, for a coach known as a quarterback killer to go out that way. To be honest, I even felt some pity for old Houston Nutt. In response, I knelt on the ball four times in front of my television set. Something Les Miles taught me!
* Did you know somebody who went to the game in Baton Rouge? As you were feeling sorry for yourself and the Hogs, did you say to yourself, "Well, at least I don't have to make that drive back from Baton Rouge." A tip of the Hog hat to those of you who did make the game and braved enemy territory in doing so.
* So Urban Meyer is now the head coach at Ohio State. And just when I thought he had maxed out his a--hole potential! haha. I would caution OSU fans with these three names. Charlie Strong, Dan Mullens, and Tim Tebow. He doesn't have any of them at Ohio State. That might make more of a difference than they think.
* Uekman family, I can't begin to imagine. I went back and looked at my photos from the Miss. State game. I found one with Garrett in on the play. Wish I could have traveled back in time through the photo to warn him to get to a doctor.
* Still lamenting that we didn't see Joe Adams maxed to his capacity in the LSU game. I thought we left some excitement, if not points, on the field by not finding ways to better get the ball into his hands. I hope that changes come the bowl game. Would Percy Harvin have ever gone so unused in a big game at Florida?
* Wouldn't it be hilarious if UCLA at 6-6 were to somehow pull off an upset against Oregon in the Pac 12 Championship game? They've already fired UCLA"s coach. Would they keep him around for the Rose Bowl? haha. USC would have been in the game, but they are on probation. Funny how they are most likely going to cost the Bruins a bowl game by having to step aside, so that an UCLA 6-7 record will go down in the books.
* Some silence from State College, Pennsylvania, as of late. But you know this is far from being over. Syracuse is taking up the child molestation slack, sadly, in the mean time. I wonder if any lawyer will try to pull the Ancient Greece defense, as in this wasn't a big deal back then.
* Count me as pleasantly shocked that the Hogs did not fall further in the polls. The AP has them at No. 6. The BCS has them at No. 8. I could have seen us falling out of the Top Ten completely. Somebody must have recognized that we played No. 1 and No. 2 on the road, and those were our only losses. Even though Craig James said he has the Hogs at No. 3, I still don't like him, namely for the whole Mike Leach / Texas Tech fiasco.
* I see where people are forecasting Virginia Tech and West Virginia for the Orange Bowl. Look for the Orange Bowl to be surpassed in ratings again this year by reruns of Mork and Mindy if that is the pairing.
* Turner Gill out at Kansas? I guess he was deemed a lightweight in comparison to the former coach in more ways than one, right?
* Ron Zook is out at Illinois after a 6-0 start that only went downhill from there. Paul Petrino now needs a job. At least now he doesn't just have "Worked for my brother" on his resume. However, the downside is that he worked for a 6-0 Illini team that ended 6-6. He does have that on his resume as well.
* The Yin and Yang of the Razorbacks: I too share the concern we all have about the defense. But I also understand how a quick strike offense or one that stutters a lot with quick three and outs is not an offense that helps out the defense. I understand all that. But it is also apparent that the team is lopsided in terms of talent. Where are the Joe Adams and Jarius Wrights of the defense? Hopefully they are coming, but one wonders if anybody on Petrino's staff is capable of getting better defensive players to Arkansas?
* Arkansas a Big 12 Team? Hmm. I read where a poster on another message board retold a radio conversation involving ESPN"s Mike Trico where he said that Arkansas isn't built like a typical SEC team; it looks more like a Big 12 team instead. I think Mike was getting at how we are better at offense than defense.
* The rematch? I am an SEC fan all the way, but even I don't really care to see LSU and Alabama play again. The thrill that is the national championship game is based in part on seeing two teams play one another that haven't played each other, maybe ever! Alabama had their shot. Sacrifice a Cowboy or a Cardinal to those Tigers, I say.
* OU as an Arkansas bowl opponent in the Cotton Bowl: A 9-3 OU team might be a less than motivated team after losing to their in-state rival for the first time in eight years. I think we can beat them in motivation. But on offense and defense? I like the Hogs' chances seeing as their top two threats on offense are both injured for the season. However, they do have a Tim Tebowish quarterback that they use in short yardage and goal line situations that I can see us being unable to stop. And our secondary hasn't faced a quarterback as good as Landry Jones can be. On defense, oh, I think if we could knock off the rust we would score and score again in the Cotton Bowl. The last time we got an eleventh win, well, it was against OU. I give Arkansas the edge here. I've been hearing disco music all season. ha.
* OSU as a bowl opponent in the Cotton Bowl: A 10-2 Cowboys squad would have blown their chance at a BCS bowl and a chance at the national championship in the course of two games over three weeks. Would they be up for a Cotton Bowl appearance? Hard to say. They have sixteen seniors they would like to send out in a good way, just like we have seventeen we would like to see exit with a win. One thing is clear is that it would be a shootout, for neither team is all that on defense. But I would have to give OSU the edge, for their offense operates more consistently and their defense is better at creating turnovers than Arkansas's.
* KSU as a bowl opponent in the Cotton Bowl: All I know is that they have a running quarterback, Collin Klein, that could give the Hogs fits. I would assume motivation would be pretty high, for this would be a pretty big bowl game for the Wildcats. However, I don't think they have the defense to stop much of anything Arkansas would throw at them. If the Hogs could find a way to better stop a running quarterback between now and the game, I would feel more confident. As is, I give a slight edge to the Hogs.
* I don't really believe we are going to get the Capital One Bowl, but if we do, it would be most likely either Michigan State or Wisconsin. Would love to see us get Felix's and Darren's bowl win over Wisconsin (by proxy), but our track record against Big Ten teams doesn't instill a lot of confidence. Of the two, because of the quarterback difference, I would say Michigan State presents the most likely opportunity to get bowl win number thirteen for the program.
* Can we go ahead and pencil LSU in for the national championship game for the next time it comes to New Orleans? 2015, right? Must be nice to have the championship game come to your backyard every four years. Georgia fans, don't say a word. You get the SEC championship in your backyard EVERY YEAR!
* Bowl eligible teams that Arkansas beat: Texas A&M (barely), Miss. State (barely), South Carolina (our best win), Auburn, and Vanderbilt (yeah, really!). Seeing as how poorly our victims' seasons turned after playing us, I would not be shocked if all of them lost their bowl games.
* Here is a "What if" for you. What if Nick Saban had decided that he really liked snow and that Michigan State is where he would end his coaching days? No national championships for LSU? The Mike Shula era continues at Alabama? Would Arkansas have been good enough with Nutt to have become an SEC West power? Would the east have just continued to dominate the west?
* Another "What if." What if Dennis Johnson doesn't fumble and somehow the mighty mo instead stays on the side of the red and white? Say the Hogs win in Baton Rouge. Do you think we would have won the three way tie with LSU and Alabama? Honestly, I can more easily see the Hogs getting screwed over in that scenario with an 11-1 Razorback team left out of not just the championship game, but the BCS entirely. That conviction softened the blow somewhat for me over last Friday's outcome.
* Arkansas players, come meet me over here at camera three: "Hogs, listen, you have the opportunity to still do something very unique at Arkansas, and I don't mean just winning a bowl game, though that is up there on the unique scale. What I mean is that you have the opportunity again this year to win an eleventh game, something which the 88, 89, 2006, and 2010 teams could not do. The last team to do it was the 77 team. This is to say that you still have something very special to play for. And a win such as that would bring a lot of momentum to the program going into the 2012 season. So don't sulk about missing a BCS bowl. Hit the books between now and finals, and make sure you are all eligible for the bowl game you have coming, okay? Then do something we rarely see in an Arkansas bowl game, whoop the hell out of your opponent! That's all."
* A program on the rise: Vanderbilt. A program that continues to slip: Florida. And black is white. And up is down, my friends.
* Missouri and Texas A&M, come huddle up. Congrats to Missouri for ending your decades long rivalry game with a win over Kansas. But that Kansas was even in that game should give you a lot of concern about heading over to the SEC with the team you got. Texas A&M, boo hiss, for not going out like Arkansas did in 1991 with a win over Texas. Considering what you have leaving due to graduation and that Mike Sherman is most likely going to be your head coach for your first year in the SEC, I suggest you call your old conference mate, Colorado, and ask them what it feels like to get your first win in a new conference in November. Finally, I truly wish you had stayed in the Big 12, but since you are coming, I hope the Hogs are able to treat the new kids on the block like the Hogs were treated for most of the 90s.
* Random note of excitement: Looking forward to seeing Quinta Funderburk next season as he comes off his red-shirt year.
* Random note of blah: Why can't Childs, Adams, and Wright have one more year? I would be willing to vacate / forfeit the wins of 2008 (well, except the LSU game) to get them another year! haha.
* I don't think I have ever been more distracted by a team's helmet than what Notre Dame is wearing right now. The damn things will blind you if you look at them for too long. Stanford's helmet, however, was just the opposite, the dull black with the red "S" was too underwhelming. Red and white, stick with it. The same goes for the Hogs.
* I'll end here with a prediction for the national championship game: Alabama 12 / LSU 9. The field goal kickers will have been secretly replaced by European soccer players. Do refs really check who is in each uniform? Do they look at drivers licenses while in the locker room? Think about it.