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Reviewing Kevin Scarbinsky's Preseason Arkansas-Auburn Column

This is why no one should ever write anything in the summer.

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I know what it's like to publish predictions that go wrong.

I'm the one who said multiple times over the summer that Arkansas vs Auburn was potentially a College GameDay site. Instead, it got the JP slot because one or both teams may not even be bowl eligible. If you can find my old Saturday Roulette gambling columns from Arkansas Sports 360 (RIP), you'll find plenty of games picked incorrectly. It happens.

Everybody gets predictions wrong sometimes, so I normally don't worry much about them. However, there was one column from the summer I found so condescending and poorly-reasoned it resembled more of a message board post on whatever the Auburn version of Hogville is rather than a column on one of the most widely read "mainstream" sites in the SEC.

It bothered me so much I saved it. Just in case Arkansas won and, especially, if the Hogs covered the spread against Auburn, then I wanted to open it in all its glory.

Here's the background. Back in the summer, Vegas released way-too-early odds on several of this season's college football games. Among them was Auburn-Arkansas and they made the Razorbacks a 6.5-point favorite. Sure, it seemed crazy among those who thought Auburn was a favorite to make the Playoff or picked the Tigers to win the SEC (a group of which I'm proud to say I was never a part).

But instead of taking this as a sign that Auburn might not be that great or that Arkansas might not be that bad, columnist Kevin Scarbinsky just trashed it. (Razorback fans probably remember Scarbinsky as one of the pundits who recently suggested Bret Bielema be suspended for a game, which would have been the Auburn game, for "flopping" in that Alabama video - although he soon after wrote another column saying the issue should be put to rest.)

Here's Scarbinsky's piece from June. It's pretty hilarious to read it right now, so let's go through it piece by piece. Shall we? We shall.

How much money can you put down on the Tigers plus the points before the line moves back toward sanity and reality?

Please tell us how much money you put down! Fortunately for Scarbinsky, he must not have put much down because the line stayed pretty close to that preseason line during game week.

Perhaps a recent history lesson is in order here.


If you're keeping score at home or in Vegas, Malzahn and Auburn are 2-0 against Bielema and Arkansas by a combined score of 80-38. The Tigers won this game big two years ago and won it even bigger on the Plains last year.

You know what the wiseguys call that? A trend.

What makes anyone think it's likely to end?

Yes, Auburn beat Arkansas decisively in 2013 and 2014. Are we supposed to pretend that matters? Scarbinsky, who watched first-hand as Gene Chizik won a national title in 2010 only to be fired two years later, should know at this point in his career that things can change pretty quickly in college football.

Further, that 2014 game was the season opener. You don't have to have written a book on HUNH theory to understand how much better Arkansas was at the end of 2014 and how much worse Auburn was. Arkansas probably would have been favored to beat Auburn last year if they played in November last year instead of Labor Day weekend.

In college football, players come and go each year. Programs evolve. That's how it works. Most trends tend not stay trends for long.

With Nick Marshall suspended for the first half, Jeremy Johnson started that game and served up some shredded pork. He went 12 for 16 for 243 yards and two touchdowns in 30 minutes of work.

Imagine what he might do to the Razorbacks for 60 minutes.

Well, funny story how that turned out.

In 60 minutes and four overtime periods, Johnson took one snap and ran for a one-yard touchdown.

The Auburn staff didn't do anything to make people think Jeremy Johnson wouldn't be a Heisman contender this season, so I don't blame Scarbinsky or anybody else for thinking he could have a big year.

But even still, if you look really closely at the 2014 game, Johnson did have a great first quarter, but the Hogs did a pretty good job of figuring him out by the second quarter. Johnson's first three drives ended up as touchdowns, but his next three went three-and-out, three-and-out, long field goal missed. By halftime Arkansas tied the game and Malzahn conveniently lifted Nick Marshall's suspension so he could start the third quarter.

I wish Johnson had played the entire game. Might not have ever gone to overtime.

Did the oddsmakers at the Golden Nugget not get the word that Auburn has a new defensive coordinator named Will Muschamp?


Defensive genius Will Muschamp was so effective that in four overtime periods, Arkansas scored four touchdowns and converted two 2-point attempts. Arkansas was one of the worst red zone offensive teams in the nation going into the game. In three previous overtime games under Bret Bielema, Arkansas failed to make a single first down.

I respect Will Muschamp. His record as a defensive coordinator speaks for itself. But maybe the Golden Nugget did get word that he had been hired at Auburn and just didn't think it was as big a deal as Scarbinsky and many others did.

Oh, sure, Arkansas isn't the overmatched team it was the last time Auburn traveled to Fayetteville, and Auburn may not be the SEC championship team it was in 2013. The Hogs have improved steadily under Bielema while the Tigers under Malzahn need to bounce back from 2014's late-season collapse.

But the Razorbacks need a 24-point turnaround from their last meeting to pull even with the Tigers and a 31-point swing in their favor to cover this early betting line.

Done and done. Even added a 32nd point just for style.