With the kickoff to the 2009 Razorback football season a mere 115 days away, I thought I would use a formula my hedge fund manager gave me that factors in spring practice statistics from just sunny days, the height and weight of incoming freshmen, the GPA's of the opposition's cheerleaders and that new APR score, and is divided by last year's temperature and multiplied by the last year's pollen count on game day to come up with a prediction for the 2009 season. But then I thought better of it and just decided to go with what my gut is telling me right now. That being a gut that has a memory of the ways of the Hogs that goes back to a very hazy memory of the Orange Bowl win and gets a little brighter with Holtz's Sugar Bowl loss to Bear Bryant. My heart has a memory just as long, but I am going to try to keep the heart out of this forecaste, for it does want to call every game a "W" for the Hogs. So, gut, what do you say right now?
September 5th Missouri State - The gut is going to say that the Hogs get off to a much better start this year, and we don't come as nearly as close to having a Citadel moment like we did last year. Mallet makes a solid premier, Michael Smith runs for over 100 yards, and the defense does enough, but still gives up enough long plays to keep us all worried about how they'll look against SEC competition. Hogs Wins 38 to 14.
September 19th Georgia - Kirk Herbstreit and Tony Barnhart have already said that Georgia better watchout for the Hogs. And without Stafford and Moreno, I think Georgia should have a time of it in Fayetteville. But one thing Mark Richt does darn well is win SEC games on the road. And a thing that our Hogs do pretty darn well is lose SEC games in Fayetteville when an Eastern team comes to visit. As much as we would like to rub it in the face of those Falcons fans, I believe Georgia still gets the better of the Hogs this year. BUT, I think next year in Athens you'll see the Hogs do a William T. Sherman impersonation. Hogs Lose 28 to 17.
September 26th Alabama - Starting off the season with a loss to Georgia at home stings, but the Hogs hope to get into the win column in Tuscaloosa. Sorry, no luck here. The gut is saying that Ryan Mallet acquits himself well, but not well enough to overcome a bad defensive showing and his own jitters that produce two very untimely interceptions on the wrong end of the field. It won't be as bad as last year, but Bama and Julio Jones still get us again. Hogs Lose 34 to 21.
October 3rd Texas A&M - The Hogs have not had a lot of luck at playing in domed buildings. I am not for sure if they've ever won a game inside a dome. But the hole at the top of Jerry Jones' new stadium is just enough to save the Hogs as they sneak by the Aggies in a game that brings back memories of the SWC and via Wally Hall, the Mexican restaurants he loved to visit in College Station. Hogs win 24 to 21.
October 10th Auburn - The visitor usually wins this game, but not this time. Even Gus can't squeeze a spread offense out of these guys in time for Auburn to be a competitive team in '09. The defense has its best effort of the season thus far, and native Arkansan Tommy Tuberville is seen in the stands with his Camden area family. Some will say he had an Arkansas shirt on. Others say it was an Auburn shirt. Hogs win 28 to 10.
October 17th Florida - As much as the gut would like say that there is a victory here for the Hogs, it just can't at this point. If during the walk through Tim Tebow were to get caught up in the Rapture, as you know he'll be leading the ascent upwards, the Hogs would have a better chance at winning. Loaded on defense with all the starters coming back, Florida does a good job of shutting down Mallet and Smith as well as the other improving backs. Hogs lose 41 to 13.
October 24th Ole Miss - Ole Miss has a softer schedule than Arkansas, and Nutt will have them believing Atlanta is actually possible for little Ole Miss, a team that has never been there. It won't actually happen, but the belief will grow stronger this day as Nutt beats his old team for the last time for sometime to come as the Orgeron players start getting replaced with the Nutt recruited players. A penalty is talked about for days, once again. Hogs lose 21 to 20.
October 31st Eastern Michigan - Smarting over the previous loss, the Hogs go all Jason, Michael, and Freddy wrapped into one on Eastern Michigan this Halloween. Ryan Mallet throws for a season high five touchdowns and Michael Smith once again goes over 100 yards. Hogs win 48 to 13.
November 7th South Carolina - By this time in the season, Spurrier will have switched quarterbacks 1,278 times. The 1,279th time won't do the trick as the Hogs carry over the momentum from the last game and have an easier time scoring than what many would expect against a good South Carolina defense. Many will say that the Gamecocks suffered from PMJS (Post McFadden and Jones Syndrom) as they recall the last time they visited Fayetteville. Hogs win 31 to 21.
November 14th Troy - Knowing the Hogs as the gut knows them, it says the Hogs are due for a let down struggle as they come out of conference play to face Troy, a team that nearly had LSU's scalp last year. The Hogs will just barely avoid getting knocked off themselves. It will take one of Petrino's gutsy 4th and the game calls to get it done, but it gets done. Hogs win 14 to 13.
November 21st Mississippi State - As Miss. State adjusts to a new coach and the new coach adjusts to Tebow not being there at qb, the Hogs get a win over a team that they've traditionally beaten, but have just about always had a hard time doing it. Things won't change in either regard. Having been much better this season under the direction of John L. Smith, special teams again this year picks a Little Rock game not to show up to, which nearly costs the Hogs a win that would have been much easier otherwise. Hogs win 29 to 27.
November 28th LSU - The CBS executives scratch their heads wondering what they were thinking when they moved Alabama and Auburn into the spot that the Hogs and Tigers have been playing in on CBS the day after Thanksgiving. CBS's loss is ESPN's gain, as these two teams play another down to the last play thriller at night in Baton Rouge. Facing that environment, the Hogs do better than expected and force the game into double overtime, but come up short in the end to the Western Division champs. Hogs lose 41 to 34.
Bowl Game - With a 7-5 record, the Hogs head to Memphis where they will win their first ever Liberty Bowl trophy in convincing fashion, making all Hogs fans wonder if Bobby Petrino might just be a rare coaching specimen, one that will consistently win bowl games at Arkansas. Time will have to tell on that. But for the time being, Hog fans are excited to end the season on a positive note once again and will have high hopes for what should be a much more competitive team in 2010. So says the gut. Of course, I sure hope the heart is able to say, "I told you so!" to the gut more than once.