The Razorback Ink Blot Test and the Laws of the Universe

Sam Greenwood

Big Picture Analysis After Yet Another Defeat To Florida

If you were still with the game last night on Allen's final drive and were watching via ESPN2, you know that the screen went to black a few times and that eventually you got Sports Center feed in place of the game, which had actually already been decided long before with Patton's two touchdowns just before and after the half. It was as if the universe was saying to Hog fans, you don't really need to see anymore of this. You aren't going to score, even against Florida's backups, which we didn't, so no need to hang around. You could say both ESPN2 and the Hogs were experiencing technical difficulties Saturday night. I am sure ESPN2's is much easier to fix.

Thinking big picture here, I don't believe Einstein or Newton ever found this in their equations, but there does seem to be a law at work in the universe that says that anything good that comes to the University of Arkansas Razorbacks must be counteracted with something equally negative, if the Hogs are lucky,  or something way out of proportion that just grinds your fan heart up in a blender of agony and defeat. Take a look at the following examples.

1964 and 1965. The AP doesn't award national championships after bowl seasons in 1964, so their national championship goes to Alabama, even though we beat Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl and was undefeated. In 1965 we lose to LSU in the Cotton Bowl, but now they are awarding their national championship in football after the bowl season.

1982 Bluebonnet Bowl Win Over Florida. We've paid for that win with now nine straight losses (two in SEC championship games) to the Gators. Seems more than a bit disproportional doesn't it?

1994 and 1995 Final Four Appearances. A win in the national championship game in 1994 could only be followed by a loss in 1995. The universe demanded it.

1998 and 1999 vs. Tennessee. Here was a rare case where the universe kicked the Hogs in the Stoerner in the first game, but then showed us much love in the second by reversing the final score of the previous meeting for a Razorback victory. But if you recall, the Hogs got a black hole dumped on them in 2000 in Knoxville where they had over sixty points put up on them in a horrible keystone cop of a game.

1997 to 2007. During the Nutt years, after that first loss to Tennessee and the following loss to Mississippi State, we never won the next SEC game after losing our first one. Not once! The pattern finally got broken during the brief  Petrino tenure.

2002 Miracle on Markham. The Hogs haven't beaten a Nick Saban coached team since that miracle pass from Jones to Birmingham.

2003 Win Over Missouri in the Independence Bowl. The universe took its time and assigned Missouri to us in the 2008 Cotton Bowl where they thrashed us good. One wonders if the debt for the 2003 win was paid that day, for we'll see these Tigers again in 2014.

2008 and 2012. The one team the universe doesn't mind us beating up on year after year and not making us pay for it is the University of Tulsa. We've beaten them fifty-four times, more than any other team. In 2008 Tulsa was good and we got a narrow victory over them. In 2012, Tulsa was good again, and we still got a victory over the Golden Hurricane. Easy conclusion, haha, the universe doesn't care at all about the University of Tulsa when it comes to them playing Arkansas. So can we get Tulsa back on our schedule?

2012. The Hogs beat Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl topping off the first eleven win season since Jimmy Carter was president. By April of that year, the program in the form of Petrino ran off the road and crashed. The 2012 football season would be one of the worse and most embarrassing seasons in recent memory. It is every Arkansas fan's hope that the football program doesn't take a similar ten year path of futility like the basketball program has endured since the Nolan firing of 2002. The 2010 and 2011 seasons were outstanding, memorable years, but 2012 and 2013 are looking like just the opposite.

2013. Kansas State couldn't end our football season on a negative note. But that damn universe found them a path to revenge, that being the 2013 NCAA Baseball Regional where the Wildcats eliminated the Hogs, who had been ranked number one at the start of the season, from the tournament.

2013. Our three wins to start the season are now equaled by three losses. The hope is that the Hogs might end the season with a 6-6 balance and the shot of a winning season through a bowl win. But I don't think many of us are making hotel reservations in Memphis and Shreveport right now.

You can even find this dynamic working out on the micro level as well. Tevin Mitchell gets us a rare pick six vs. Rutgers. Brandon Allen has given back two pick sixes in the two following games. I would have thought just one would have been enough!

Such is the negative pattern that I see in the Razorback ink blots at the moment. I am sure if I tried harder I could find more positive patterns, but the negative ones right now are just easier to see when it comes to our Hogs. Still,  I am reminded by Frank Broyles, whom Shakespeare quotes, saying to Brutus after some bad losses that "the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings." Maybe Frank was right. I like to think so, for if he is correct, it means we can change our fate, our pattern, and defy any universal law of comeuppance that is out there for us.

One specific observation about the Florida game. The Hogs partly lost because, after the Eden of the  first quarter, they rarely got much on first down while on offense. In essence, our drives in flat Florida were always having to climb up hill after first down. And the Gator defense was too good not to make that a hard climb, which they did.

For the poll question, I point both to Matt Schaub of the Houston Texans and Brandon Allen. Schaub, a pro, gave up his fourth pick six on Sunday, one for each game he has played in this year. Allen has still not looked as good as he did in his first game against ULL. The poll asks if you think his pattern will improve or get worse. Try to be optimistic if you can.

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