Editor’s note: Welcome to the fifth season of Tusk to Tail – the sport of tailgating as organized, performed and perfected by a group of Hog fans who have been tailgating together sober and otherwise for more than a decade. Members of the Tusk to Tail Team are Sean Casey, Jack Clark, Dale Cullins, Greg Houser, Craig May, David Rice and Mark Wagner. Tusk to Tail is managed by Talk Business & Politics against the advice of attorneys and family. The diehards may also be followed on their Facebook page. Or follow the crew on Twitter — @TuskToTail
How disappointing is the Razorback football season? Diehard fans who have been tailgating together for more than a decade are already talking about the basketball season.
How do you think the Arkansas basketball team will do this year?
I like this basketball team so far. The ability to score is greatly improved over last year’s squad. They need to improve the defense, but there is potential. I’m guessing they can pull down 20 wins and get a bid to the Dance.
The “Dark Era” for Hog basketball is going on 20 years now since we have been really relevant. Things look as promising as ever, but we say that almost every year. A whopping 4,200 were in attendance this past Monday night (and it wasn’t snowing), so there’s not a lot of excitement yet. They need to get some excitement into the fan base with a lot of “W’s.” The Hogs have two ranked teams on their schedule, so they are going to have to kill it on their non-conference schedule to not be on the bubble with the SEC being so weak again. We have two great recruiting classes coming in, but we really need this year to be a tournament year. No more excuses.
I think they will do well. The newcomers – Barford, Macon, and Thomas – have really looked good to me. You can tell that the team just needs to put it together. The defense is much improved from what I saw last year, but there is a tendency to have lapses, and they need to do a better job defending against the three. Also, they have been out-rebounded in both games I saw. This is always a worry, but since Anderson emulates Nolan’s style, getting out-rebounded isn’t the end of the world. Moses Kingsley is back but not playing at the level he was last year. Hopefully he’s just knocking off the rust. I say we make the tournament, and for sure get to the group of 32, with a legitimate shot at the round of 16.
• Arkansas @ Mississippi State
The Hogs defense has been schizophrenic the past few weeks. If the Hogs play as well against Dan Mullen’s offense as they did against the Gators, they should win. If it’s more like the team that was mauled by two different kinds of Tigers, it will be ugly. The Bulldogs have Robb Smith’s favorite kind of QB – a mobile one. And LSU bounced back from their Bama hangover, so don’t expect that to help this week either. It’s time for the good Razorback defense to show up. Hogs 28, Miss St 26
At this point, I believe the Arkansas Razorbacks are the softest team in the SEC West. The Hogs have been physically pushed around by every other SEC West opponent except Ole Miss, and even then the Hogs did not overwhelm the Rebels. Now the Hogs are going into Starkville where they always struggle, even when the Razorbacks have a good team. State will win convincingly, and our hopes for continued improvement under Bielema are crushed. Hogs lose 31-17.
I’m pretty sure I said 8 wins during the preseason and I’m sticking to it. That would mean our Piggies need to win at Starkvegas and Mizzou, so I’ll take the Hogs by 3. Enough offense keeps us in the game.
We are dead last in the country in rush defense, the worst in Razorback history. Austin Allen has not been the same quarterback since Auburn. The Bulldogs ran all over A&M a couple of weeks ago, and that has to scare you, but I think the “Little Giants” would get 100 yards against this defense. Despite all that, I think the Hogs find a way to win. We have lost four in a row to State which is mind-boggling. Hogs find a way to win this year, 37-33.
• #21 Florida @ #18 LSU
One of the caveats of the Gators making the trip to Baton Rouge was that this be an unusual 12 p.m. game. There has never been any love lost between these two schools, and whatever scintilla of it was there vanished in October thanks to Hurricane Matthew. Coach O (who should get the job) and LSU will annihilate the Gators, 38-14.
This is the game that was cancelled due to a hurricane, but really never should have been cancelled. Florida’s defense was so over-rated, which was proven when Hogs destroyed them. LSU destroys them this week. Tigers 34-10.
• #15 USC @ UCLA
Since Pete Carroll left USC, the one constant in the Pac 12 is that they like to score and hate to play defense. USC is 6-1 since starting redshirt freshman Sam Darnold. Looking at the teams USC is better at offense, defense, and special teams. It comes as no surprise that USC is favored by 10.5. My gut tells me that USC gets up early then takes the foot off the gas allowing UCLA to make a small comeback so the loss looks respectable on paper. USC wins 38-31.
USC has really found their stride after getting off to a difficult start. I don’t see them losing it at UCLA. Trojans 41, Bruins 28.
• #20 Washington State @ #12 Colorado
Both teams have performed exceptionally well this year. I always expect that from pirate Coach Leach, but Colorado has surprised winning their last four and having the lead at both Michigan and at USC before falling on the road. Washington State has the better offense and Colorado has the better defense. The game will be decided by whichever QB has the best day. Falk is the better passer, but Liufa has beaten teams with both his arm and his legs. I like the home field advantage the Buffalos have. Washington State is favored in this game, but I’m going with the Buff’s. Colorado 28, Washington 24.
When did Colorado get good? Buffalos 31-27.
• #8 Oklahoma @ #10 West Virginia
Oklahoma is #8 in the country? What? A team that lost two out of the first three weeks while giving up an average of 31 points a game? It must be nice to be in the Big 12. Meantime, I know very little about West (Bleeping) Virginia, other than their coach looks like a crazy street person. Feels like a prime time game OU goes on the road and wins. Let’s call it a final of 77-63, Boomer Sooner.
No one burns couches like the Mountaineers! I’ll take WVU by 5.
• #2 Ohio State@ Michigan State
My only interest in Big 10 football is relishing the ultra-rare Urban Meyer loss, which last year came at the hands of Sparty. It was a terrible loss that probably cost the Buckeyes another National Championship and led Zeke Elliot to openly question the competence of his coaches, and he was right! It’s not gonna happen this year, though. Michigan State is a putrid 3-7, with all their losses coming in consecutive weeks. That’s John L. Smith quality football! OSU 70, MSU 10.
This will be ugly. Buckeyes 44-17.