I suppose John L. Smith's first win at Arkansas over a winning team couldn't have come at a better time.
Unfortunately, he'll need all of that magic again every week of the season from here on out.
But even though the Hogs' ugly 19-15 win over Tulsa didn't exactly inspire a lot of confidence in the Razorbacks' chances going forward, it was nice to see Cobi Hamilton and Dennis Johnson looking dangerous again. Their big games helped inspire some confidence that the Hogs can put up a few points against the Gamecocks on Saturday, a team that boasts the nation's 20th-best defense. Of course, that positivity may have been negated by the fact that Tyler Wilson looked more skittish than ever in the pocket, and Jadeveon Clowney will be bearing down upon him this week.
Thankfully, Arkansas has a great record against South Carolina - the Hogs are 10-4 against the Gamecocks in the last 14 years - and they'll also face off against an offense that sputtered against Florida and is missing Marcus Lattimore. South Carolina needed all the help they could get to beat the miserable Tennessee Vols by just three points, so maybe there's a glimmer of hope for the Hogs in this one.
But even if the game doesn't go the Hogs way - and we're all quite familiar with how that feels - here are a few more tips on how can an Arkansas fan enjoy Saturday's game against the Gamecocks.
1. Embrace the rivalry: The Arkansas - South Carolina rivalry has always been a curious one because both schools came into the conference without their biggest rivals, so they had to become "rivals" out of necessity. But over the years, it's turned into a consistently good matchup between two interesting teams, and it often defines which team will end up in the better bowl game at the end of the year.
And now that the SEC has decided that Texas A&M will become South Carolina's permanent west division rival starting in 2014, it's a good time to reflect on the history of the series. South Carolina and Arkansas jumped into the SEC in 1992 and shared the status as "SEC newcomers/outsiders" for 20 years, so it's a little sad to see this series winding to a close.
(Something to think about: The freshman classes at South Carolina and Arkansas have never known a time when Arkansas was in the Southwest Conference or when South Carolina was in the ACC.)
2. See how much Lou Holtz you can bear: Lou Holtz has become known as a Notre Dame homer/national clown thanks to his time at ESPN, but let's not forget that he's one of the best college football coaches of all time - and that he coached at both Arkansas and South Carolina. He helped Arkansas to the Orange, Fiesta and Sugar bowls in 1977-79 before he was fired in 1983, and turned South Carolina from an 0-11 team in 1999 to a team that won nine games in 2001.
3. Prepare yourself for Jadeveon Clowney: Perhaps one of my favorite sports videos of all time is a video of Clowney's from his senior year in high school. While he's been a powerful force in college, the 6-foot-6, 260-pound defensive end absolutely mauls the poor high school kids who are placed into his path. It looks like an NFL player got lost and found himself out on the field with a bunch of middle schoolers. He shoves kids over and throws linemen and quarterbacks to the ground in a way that makes you seriously worry about the other team's safety.
4. Groove to the Godfather of Soul: Last week's Smile! Train mentioned The Gap Band, one of funk's best bands, so we'll try and keep the Hogs' win streak alive with another funk music legend, James Brown. Brown is a native of Barnwell, South Carolina, and it's basically impossible not to enjoy his music or his dramatic persona as "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business."
My favorite James Brown moment is a tie between his his appearance in "When We Were Kings," the best sports documentary ever, and Eddie Murphy's turn as JB in the classic Saturday Night Live sketch, "James Brown's Celebrity Hot Tub."
(And to think that those freshmen at Arkansas and South Carolina today are also far too young to remember when Eddie Murphy was funny.)
Enjoy the game, everyone.