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42 Games On Either Side Of December 2007

I had a long post written on Sunday about the Alabama game, but the computer gremlins or maybe it was that Alabama defense ate it. So add another level of frustration for me to Saturday's loss, for writing and publishing posts after a defeat is something of a therapy for me. But instead of trying to recreate the post, I'll take it as a sign from the universe that I should just move on from the Alabama loss. But I did want to share with you some interesting stats and factoids that I put together on Saturday night with the help of the media guide. A loss like what the program experienced on Saturday with expectations so high for the year gets you to thinking about where is Arkansas right now as a program? I know it is just one game in a long season still ahead, but it is yet another game where the Hogs looked truly out coached, out manned, and out played in so many phases of the game.The title to the post I lost was called: "Hogs Seen In Tuscaloosa Impersonating The Washington Generals - Again."

With a nod to Douglas Adams, I am taking the ultimate answer to the universe, the number 42, as my jumping off point. I went and looked at the 42 games Petrino has coached and then the last 42 games of the Nutt era. Though I am certainly not advocating a return of Nutt (who likely will be looking for a job soon), I think the similarities on either side of December 2007 are rather interesting and throws some doubt out there about really how far we have moved as a program.

WINS: Nutt had 24 wins and 18 losses in his last 42 games. Petrino is at 26 wins and 16 losses this week. Stretching it this far back includes part of Nutt's losing season in 2004 and his entire losing season of 2005. The 42 game mark for Petrino includes his losing season of 2008.

RANKED TEAMS: Nutt played 22 ranked teams during that span. Petrino has played 16 ranked teams.

POINTS SCORED: The heavily run focused Nutt teams produced 1,277 points, averaging 30 points per game thanks to players such as Jones, Hillis, and McFadden. The heavy pass oriented Petrino teams have produced 1,360 points, averaging 32.3 points per game thanks to players such as Mallett, Adams, and Childs.

POINTS GIVEN UP: The Nutt defenses gave up 974 points at 23 points per game. Petrino's defenses have given up 1,080 points with that average being 25.7 points. The difference is 106 points. 

BOWLS: Nutt went to the Capital One Bowl and the Cotton Bowl (with Reggie Herring) with his teams. Petrino took the Hogs to two bowls as well, the Liberty and the Sugar. Petrino stands out for winning one of his bowl games; whereas, Nutt's teams didn't win either of the bowls they went to. Petrino also stands out for getting the Hogs to a BCS bowl, but would have it more in his favor if the Hogs had won the game.


PASSING STATS: This is what most differentiates the Nutt years from the Petrino years. I don't even have to go cite any numbers to tell you that Petrino's teams could throw the ball when Nutt's teams couldn't. But just as a lot of running yards don't mean squat when there isn't a trophy in the case to show for them, the same thing can be said about a lot of passing yards. I don't want the Hogs to be the Miami Dolphins of the Dan Marino era. Lots of passing records, but no trophy.

CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES: Nutt in 2006 did take the Hogs to Atlanta. Many thought 2011 might be the year, as it still might be, that Petrino does the same. Nutt first got to Atlanta in his 5th year at Arkansas. And given how the Hogs looked against Alabama, it might be that the 5th year of Petrino is the Hogs' best bet when it comes to reaching the SEC Championship Game.

WHAT TO MAKE OF IT? That is up for debate, and you guys can have at it in the comment section if you wish. But in the dark night of my football soul that was last Saturday night, it seemed to say to me that Arkansas is still just Arkansas, no stellar defense in a defensive league, a team that too often lets things snowball on them, a team that has traded one offensive specialty for another (from run to pass), and still has a long ways to go to match the big boys of the SEC in recruiting a more complete team with depth across the roster. We, thank goodness, don't have the Right Reverend, but the Offensive Genius has not outpaced his predecessor on the field by all that much as of yet. The key word, being "yet."  

Here are a few other factoids I dug up on Saturday night.

THE CURSE: If you were a betting man, you could have made a lot of money over the years betting against the Hogs in the SEC game that follows their first conference loss. The Hogs for every year except 1995 under Danny Ford have lost their next conference game after losing their first. That is just remarkable! Remarkable, but in a bad way. In 1995 we lost to Tennessee, but Ford followed that up with a win over Ole Miss in Memphis. Will we beat Auburn in two weeks? The trend or the curse says we won't.

DEFENSE OVER THE YEARS: The Hogs have played 156 conference games, including the games in Atlanta, and just 27 times or around 17 percent have the Hogs held their SEC opponent to ten points or less in scoring. The Hogs have only two conference shutouts to their name in twenty years. Ole Miss in 1998 (34-0) and South Carolina in 2002 (23-0). With Alabama, the least they ever scored on us was six points in 1998 and the most came in 2008 when they racked up 49 points.The least amount of points any SEC team has scored on Petrino's defense is 14 points by Vandy in 2010.

NICK SABAN: He has lost to the Hogs only twice, both times as the coach of LSU in 2000 and 2002 when it took a miracle to beat him. I just wonder if we cashed in all our Beat Nick Saban chips on that pass from Jones to Birmingham?