The new Razorback gameday procedure is this: Enjoy the tailgate, eat, drink, pray for a Hog win, drink, eat, drink so more, pray, eat, drink, watch the game, cuss, cuss some more after the first play, drink, cuss, drink, pray, drink, tear down the tailgate, and on the ride home remind yourself of the line between being a devoted fan and insanity.
Bret Bielema is the only active head coach with a 1,000-yard rusher in each of the last 11 seasons. Who will lead the team in rushing this year, and will he cross the 1,000 yard mark?
Our three leading rushers aren’t even sniffing 500 yards midway through the season. With the O-Line playing poorly, and even considering that the schedule does ease up a bit in toughness, I see that streak coming to an end. No one on this team will get 1,000 yards in 2017.
It would be easy to lay all of this on the offensive line challenges, but an aspect of this stems from the fact that we have a 3-headed attack and not one of them seems to be featured consistently. I like all of them and wish we had a situation similar to a few years ago where Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams both rushed for more than 1,000 yards in a season. Devwah Whaley somehow ends up as the leading rusher when the season ends, but unless one of these guys has a performance similar to DMac’s against South Carolina, it seems unlikely that Bret’s streak will stretch to a 12th season.
• #21 Auburn @ Arkansas
The Hogs open as a 15-point underdog at home. Does that tell everyone how the season has been going? I think Cole Kelley and the offense will be able to put some points on the board this week. The problem is that it won’t be enough. Auburn’s run game has been very good all season, and the Razorbacks defense hasn’t really stopped anyone. The best chance for the Hogs is if the Auburn QB Stidham plays like he did in the second half against LSU. I think Auburn comes out swinging and gets a couple of quick scores on the Hogs. My beloved Razorbacks come back and even manage to take the lead, but won’t be able to hold on at the end. Auburn 35, Arkansas 27. Lord I hope I’m wrong on this.
I am a Gus Malzahn fan, and a Tim Horton fan (Auburn staff) and his entire family. I am baffled by Arkansans who have an ax to grind with Gus. He has succeeded everywhere he has been, and I am confident if he had been at the helm here the past 5 seasons the Razorbacks’ conference record would be a lot closer to 25-10 than 10-25.
With that editorial behind me, I think this game will look more like our Texas A&M game than the Alabama game. Problem is, Auburn has a good defense. The Tigers seem to have slowed down the hurry up no huddle offense that Coach B. once decried “unsafe,” even invoking the words “death certificates” as the reason he opposed it. Staring the death of their own season in the face, the Hogs employed their own “tempo” offense in the second half against Alabama. Whether we hurry, or whether we slow it down, you still have to execute. Auburn 38, Arkansas 17.
How frustrating is it to be a Razorback football fan? I’m not just talking about this season. The expectation for this program should be to consistently win 8 or 9 ball games a year, with the occasional shot at something bigger. The last five years have been a roller coaster ride and Razorback fans deserve better from the coaching staff and administration. Until someone steps up to provide some consistency in the football program I’ll continue to do what I’ve been doing every football Saturday for the last 5 years: enjoy the tailgates and pray for a miracle walking into the stadium. I don’t see any miracles happening Saturday. Tigers 38, Hogs 21.
There has been lots of talk this week if the Hogs can pull their traditional once-a-year upset this week. But until the Hogs get a running game going, they can’t win in the SEC against good teams. Auburn has one of the better defenses in the country, although they broke last week in the 2nd half against LSU. Speed kills in the SEC. Auburn has it. Arkansas doesn’t.
Gus Bus with a Flat Tire: 37
Team with No Power 5 Wins Since 11/18/17: 23
• #24 LSU @ Ole Miss
LSU seems to have found some life, as they should with the talent they have stockpiled. They will give up some points to Ole Miss, but the Ole Miss D is not up to the task of stopping the LSU ground game. LSU 33, Ole Miss 27.
LSU is the official “Jekyl and Hyde” team. Everyone left them for dead after losing to Troy, but then they go on the road and beat a mediocre Gator team. They then pulled off a shocker by coming back from a huge deficit against Auburn. Now if they win at Ole Miss and pull off a shocker at Bama, they are back in the West race. Crazy. The Tigers D too much for the Landsharks/Rebels/(Insert next mascot name here). Bayou Bengals win 30-20.
• #11 USC @ #13 Notre Dame
The Golden Domers get USC at home this year. While USC is ranked higher, the Irish are a 3-point favorite going into the game. USC QB Sam Darnold has begun to shake off the slow start he’s had this year, and is starting to play to the fantastic level of his freshman year. Brandon Wimbush, the Notre Dame QB, is supposed to be healthy and ready to play. I think this game will be won in the trenches, and I think Notre Dame has the better offensive and defensive lines. Notre Dame 24, USC 21.
Notre Dame has been impressive after the Georgia loss, and they had an extra week to prepare. USC hasn’t had a break all season, and they are coming off a close game with Utah. With home field and the scheduling advantage, Notre Dame wins.
• #10 Oklahoma State @ Texas
Texas played USC and Oklahoma close this year and beat giant-slayer Iowa State. Okie Light has scored a ton of points, dismantling everyone except TCU, to whom they lost 44-31. Since Texas gave up 50 points to Maryland, I think the Cowboys will roll the Longhorns and secure the Battle of the Big Donor Sugar Daddies. Windmill chaser T. Boone Pickens ($265 million to OSU) will stomp the deceased, profane plaintiff’s attorney Joe Jimail ($35 million to UT). OSU 52, Texas 17.
#19 Michigan @ #2 Penn State
The Nittany Lions opened as 12.5 point favorites at home, but the line has dropped 3 points since then. The Over/Under is a mere 45 points. Penn State’s Saquon Barkley has already collected 1,044 yards of total offense and 8 touchdowns. Michigan has problems on offense, but not defense where they are only allowing 224 yards a game and allow a scant 14.7 points per game. Penn State had last weekend off, while the Wolverines had to fend off Indiana. James Franklin’s squad also has revenge on its mind after losing to Coach Khaki’s team last year. Barkley’s Heisman campaign marches on as the Nittany Lions defense shuts down the little bit of offense Michigan can muster. Penn St wins 24-13.
Penn State remembers last year’s beatdown, and they are having a strong season. Comparing scores against common opponent Indiana seems to favor Penn State as well. Harbaugh coaches such a physical team, which makes it difficult to know how the other team will handle the defensive pounding. Give the edge to Penn State, but not with much confidence.
Of course the game of the day would be during the Hogs game. Michigan has not beaten anyone and has struggled against some so-so teams. Penn State hasn’t played anyone either and pulled out a last second win at Iowa. Now they will be tested the next three weeks against Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State. I think they win this one at home 27-17.
• Tennessee @ #1 Alabama
You have to work pretty hard to be a bigger dumpster fire than Arkansas this season. Somehow Tennessee has managed to do that. There’s a good possibility Butch Jones will not have a job on Monday. If it gets to out of hand in Tuscaloosa they may just fire him after the game and make him Uber back to Knoxville. All Tennessee can do is run the ball, and Alabama leads the nation in run defense. This one is going to get ugly. Tide 48, Vols 3.
Tennessee is really, really bad. Alabama is really really, good. Bama 48-3.