A year ago, on this very date, I predicted that the Hogs would go 8-5 for the season with a win in the Liberty Bowl. I got every win right and every loss correct. They say the INFJ personality type, my type, is the psychic type, so maybe that was coming out at the time? Maybe? I do have a pretty good intuitive sense of things at times when it comes to life in general and the Hogs in particular. Or maybe May the 13th is just the one day out of the 365 of the year that if I make a prediction on that day it will come true, no matter the prediction. With that idea in mind, I am tempted to go right ahead and predict an undefeated season for the Hogs and a BCS national championship. Hmm? I think I am going to go with the first theory until Stephen Hawking or some Mayan decodes May the 13th for me, haha. So if you want a look into the future, as I see it, please read the rest of the post and please leave a comment or two about how far into glory you see the Hogs marching come the 2010 campaign.
SEPTEMBER 4th Tennessee Tech in Fayetteville - We'll march right into a Citadel smelling mud puddle if this first game of the season is a loss. I don't think I am going out on a limb here by saying that it won't be a loss. The Hogs start the season with a bang. Ryan Mallett would like to stay in and try to beat his touchdown total for one game, but Petrino will give time instead to Tyler Wilson and Brandon Mitchell. The second of the two, Mitchell, will garner instant comparisons to Matt Jones for his scrambling abilities and will see more playing time as the season goes on for that very reason.
SEPTEMBER 11th University of Louisiana at Monroe in Little Rock - Rent a Win, part two. And the Hogs do just that as they play in front of the Little Rock crowd for the first time and in front of a redesigned press box at War Memorial. New press box, but same old story. The Hogs beat ULM and improve to 2-0. I have a feeling that Petrino will want to work on the running attack a good deal in this game, as he wants to improve it and will not want to give Georgia much more to look at on tape. A rather vanilla victory on the 11th.
SEPTEMBER 18th Georgia in Athens - Here comes the first true test of the season and the game that with a big win for the Hogs could possibly attract the Gameday crew to Fayetteville come the following weekend. The Heisman talk would certainly jump up a notch or two if Mallett can pull off what he couldn't do last year, win an SEC road game. Right now, Casey Dick has more SEC road wins than Ryan Mallett. That's a bit unfair since Mallett hasn't played in as many games yet, but it is true all the same. Speaking of not having played in many games, Georgia will be airing out a new quarterback, so I think the Hogs will have a better run of it defensively compared to last year. Not a shoot out like 2009, but also not like last year, a Hog victory, which will be just the second over Georgia since the Hogs arrived in the SEC. What I think will help the Hogs the most here will be the fact that unlike last year they will have had two tune up games to prepare for Georgia. This will also be the game that the new "pistol" formation on offense makes its debut in true fashion.
SEPTEMBER 25th Alabama in Fayetteville - The Big Kahuna Burger, the National Champion, comes to town with their Heisman trophy winner running back and Scottish, by way of Texas, quarterback. This is a Tide squad that the Hogs admitted to being intimidated by last year in Tuscaloosa. I don't think the Hogs will be as intimidated by them here in Fayetteville. Our Nelson Muntz laughter (Haha!) at Texas and the departure of Colt McCoy in the national championship game is repaid by the karma issuing football gods with an injury to Mallett that keeps him out for most of the second half, and the Tide is able to send the Hogs reeling on defense with Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram busting open long runs. Mallett has his moments in the first half against a weakened (due to the draft and graduation) but not by much Saban defense, yet in the end, it isn't enough, and the Tide leaves with a seven point victory over the Hogs. The question will be, why suddenly can't the Hogs tackle? From Fayetteville to Eudora, the name Willy Robinson is followed or preceded by a curse word. And what about Mallett? Good news. With the bye, he'll be ready for A&M.
OCTOBER 9th Texas A&M in Arlington - Back to Jerry World for year two of the ten year agreement. Last year the Hogs looked shaky at first, but after a timely reception and a timely fumble, they took control of the game and capped it off with a long Ronnie Wingo run for a touchdown. This year, however, it will be the Hogs who look like they are in control at first, only to suddenly encounter defensive breakdowns and a Texas A&M offense that looks more like the one that played Texas close last year than the one the Hogs played. Mallett will have to rally the Hogs in the fourth quarter to get out of Arlington with a narrow victory over the old SWC foe. The Hogs finally win a game after a bye week, which has traditionally of late not been that kind to them.
OCTOBER 16th Auburn in Auburn - Despite what some people say before the game, Willy Robinson's strategy to defeat Auburn's Cameron Newton is not to waive a laptop in front of him. Newton has gotten beyond "borrowing" laptops since he was at Florida and is into using his size to stay upright in the pocket and to gain ground using his long stridding legs. It is rare for the Hogs to beat an SEC opponent outside of MSU three years in a row. But this is the year for rarities, and the Hogs get another conference victory here on the plains. They know they can beat this team, having done it two years in a row. And they know they can beat Gus Malzahn, having done that three years in a row. And Auburn's stadium, for some reason, has been the SEC stadium where the Hogs have had some consistent success while on the road. Again, outside of MSU. What was that? Yep, Fred Talley just scored another touchdown at Jordan Hare, haha. This year it will be Dennis Johnson playing the role of Fred Talley.
OCTOBER 23rd Ole Miss in Fayetteville - Casey Dick and the Hogs came oh so close two years ago to beating Colonel Nutt and company. This year it isn't nearly as close of a call as the Hogs win by three touchdowns. Going into the game, Petrino knows he needs this victory for more reasons than one and knows too that he has more talent right now than Ole Miss. No, Dexter Mc uh, oh, no Jevan Snead (the better version), no Shay Hodge, no Michael Ore equals no victory for Ole Miss. Being the opportunist that he is, Nutt attempts to lead the Razorback band in the fight song after the game, but is kept from it by stadium security and his own displeased Ole Miss players.
OCTOBER 30th Vanderbilt in Fayetteville - The last time the Hogs beat Vanderbilt (2006), it took a stiff breeze in Nashville to keep Vandy's kick from crossing through the uprights. The last time the Hogs lost to Vanderbilt (2005), it took a hot shot, NFL prospect, quarterback in the fourth quarter that kept scoring while keeping the ball away from the Hogs. Lucky for the Hogs, they shouldn't have to depend upon a breeze, for the NFL prospect of a quarterback is on our team. Vanderbilt plays some stiff defense, but they simply don't have enough offense, just like last year. Our defense has one of their best outings in years, holding Vandy to just six points in field goals.
NOVEMBER 6th South Carolina in Columbia - The Hogs want to make Spurrier pay for his off-season comment that the Hogs are looking to leave the SEC, as far as what he is hearing. Nobody can predict which QB Spurrier will be using at this point in the season, but it is still pretty easy to predict that the Gamecocks will start another late season swoon about this time of year. This year it is even more painful for them, for they are in the hunt for an SEC East title when the Hogs capitalize on turnovers and get a close road win in Columbia that eluded them two years ago.
NOVEMBER 13th UTEP in Fayetteville - Mike Price tried to get to Fayetteville via Tuscaloosa once before. We know how that worked out. Coming to Fayetteville via El Paso, he finds not a very friendly reception as the Hogs live up to their now top five status and easily defeat the Miners. With just one loss in conference, the Hogs are paying a lot of attention to what Alabama is doing. Houston Nutt has handed the Tide a loss this year when he had no business in doing so. So very Houston Nutt!
NOVEMBER 20th MSU in Starkville - The Hogs have traditionally struggled in Starkville, but usually they come away with a win. However, they didn't two years ago. And to everyone's amazement, they don't do so this year. Is it the ghost of 1998 that has come back to haunt the Hogs? MSU kept the Hogs out of a trip to Atlanta that year, and damn if they don't do it again this year. Mallett throws high and wide and the Hogs have one of their worse games on defense and special teams of the season. The end result is that MSU secures bowl eligibility. Alabama does lose to LSU in 2010, but they hold the tie breaker with their win in Fayetteville, so it is they, not the Hogs, who are off to Atlanta where they'll face a barely got there Urban Meyer team from a messy East division that everyone thinks the Hogs could have beaten, but an overconfident Alabama team doesn't beat, having already beaten the Tebowless Gators soundly earlier in the year. This three loss Alabama team is headed to the Capital One. Florida goes back to the Sugar Bowl. The SEC's reign in the national title game comes to an end.
NOVEMBER 27th LSU in Little Rock - Still in the SEC and still high in the BCS, the Hogs have a chance at getting an at large BCS birth at 10-2 if they can defeat the ranked Tigers. With Michigan having another bad year, the pre-game talk is all about how much longer will Les Miles be in Baton Rouge. Was the win over Saban and Alabama enough to save him? London Crawford and Casey Dick (2-1 against LSU) speak to the team before the game and are there on the sidelines throughout Arkansas's most convincing and biggest point margin win over LSU since the 1998 victory of 41-14. The state gets wrapped up in BCS speculation. Wally Hall blows a gasket in trying to figure out the mathematics of it all. Rumors fly until it is officially announced that the Hogs will be playing, not in the Cotton bowl, but in the . . . .
ORANGE BOWL! The Hogs will play their first BCS bowl in the bowl game that they are most famous for winning, that being the 1978 win over Oklahoma. Just as Petrino brought a Liberty Bowl win to Louisville, he has brought one to Arkansas. And just as he brought an Orange Bowl victory to Louisville, he brings one to Arkansas as well. Symmetry, thy name is Bobby Petrino. And thus the Hogs cap off an 11-2 season. My magic eight ball of a brain says Mallett will be invited to NYC, "outlook good," but the results are "cannot predict now." I am afraid, however, when I shake my head and ask about his early departure to the NFL, it looks like, "It is decidely so."
Are these predictions decidely so? Well, I did get things right last year! haha. But in reality, of course not. Much remains to be seen in the SEC. But let the speculation begin. That we will do so all summer, speculate that is, that is decidely so!