Arkansas is over the hump.
A year wrought with ups and downs sees Arkansas riding the high wave again after beating Florida, 31-10, on Saturday. Suddenly, immediately after the calls for coaches’ jobs, everyone is golden again and a nine-win season, a “realistic pipe dream,” as it was termed around here over the summer by one particular media member, is in play. It would mean Arkansas has to win each of its remaining three games, which, no matter the opponent, is a tall task.
LSU visits first. The teams play Saturday night at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, with the Hogs having won the last two games in the series, both handily. The game has been a mess, in all the good and bad ways, since Arkansas joined the SEC; some of the most iconic moments in recent history come from LSU games. And it’s never seemed to matter which team was better, the game has tended to be unpredictable.
Honestly, Arkansas probably hopes that continues in 2016. LSU is a seven-point favorite in early betting and Arkansas is just 4-5 against the spread this season. Not that counts for much going forward, it’s more just data on the past.
If Arkansas wins it, though, the heavens open. Everything that will have happened up to that point, everything bad, will have been washed away. Mississippi State and Missouri are epically winnable games, even with the Bulldogs upset of Texas A&M over the weekend. Both are, by most standards, seen as the worst teams in their respective divisions. Wins there would provide the nine. And while certainly some will ask “what if,” that’s every team, every season.
The flip side is Arkansas loses. It may or may not provide negative momentum against Mississippi State and Missouri and things become a bit hairy down the stretch.
No matter what happens this weekend, though, Arkansas remains just one more win shy of its total from last year. That may not satisfy everyone, but reaching that mark, with all that’s gone on this season, would signal, to me, a positive year.
The calls for the jobs of the Arkansas coaches seems to have settled down. For this week, at least. LSU visits Fayetteville on Saturday, though, with one of the best rushing attacks in the SEC, something the Razorbacks have struggled with all year until the Florida game.
LSU runs for more yards per carry than any team in the SEC. Leonard Fournette isn’t the Heisman Trophy hopeful we all thought he would be, but that’s because he’s missed three games. His 141 yards per game lead the SEC and in Fournette’s absence, Darrius Guice ran for more than 160 yards each game.
So the question is begged …
Side note: With Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly now out for the season, what’s the likelihood first-team All-SEC honors go to Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen? He leads the SEC in touchdowns (tied), second in yards, second in yards per attempt and third in completion percentage; all that excluding Kelly.
And now the fun one. Most of Twitter agreed with my sentiment on this. But I put it to the masses.
• Johnny Gibson’s first career start paid dividends on Arkansas’ offensive line. Our Trent Shadid broke down the film.
• How does Arkansas versus Iowa in Nashville sound? Good to me. Bret Bielema is an Iowa grad, so there’s a fun angle. Anyway, that’s what CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm has in his bowl projections.
• Good guy Bob Holt writes how the defense set the tone in Arkansas’ win over Florida.
• Arkansas brought the wood Saturday. Injuries were commonplace, but one stood out: Florida linebacker Alex Anzalone is out for the rest of the year, exclusively first from our Zach Abolverdi.
The way Arkansas dominated the Gators turned some national heads. A few took notice on Twitter, even with LSU-Alabama going on.
Tells you something about @BretBielema and the iron jaw of his Arkansas program to come back from the Auburn debacle and dismantle Florida.
— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) November 5, 2016
Congrats Arkansas. Didn't think you had that in you.
— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) November 5, 2016
Why can't Arkansas play like this EVERY week?
— Edward Aschoff (@AschoffESPN) November 5, 2016
- The Arkansas soccer team fell, 2-1, in the SEC Tournament championship game to Florida. The Gators won in the 99th minute of extra time. The game was Arkansas’ first in the SEC title game since 1996. The Razorbacks find out Monday afternoon whether they’re in the NCAA Tournament, but ranked inside the top 15, they’re almost guaranteed to be; it’s just a matter of how high and where.
- Mike Redlicki. National champion. The men’s tennis senior had an improbable run through the ITA/USTA National Indoor Championships, capping the 32-player tournament with a win in the final over Ohio State’s Mikael Torpegaard, the No. 1 player in the nation. He is the third National Indoor singles champion in school history, joining Joey Blake in 1986 and Chip Hooper in 1981.
- The women’s tennis team won just one of 17 singles matches over the weekend at the Brown Classic in Providence, R.I. Doubles teams did, however, go 7-2 in nine matches to cap the fall season.
- Arkansas volleyball fell 3-1 to Alabama on Sunday, snapping a two-match winning streak for the Razorbacks. The team returns to Barnhill Arena on Wednesday against 18th-ranked Kentucky, sitting 12th in the SEC with a 3-9 record.
- Travis Swanson, Detroit center
Started for Lions in a 22-16 win over Minnesota.
- Alvin Bailey, Cleveland offensive lineman
Served first of two-game suspension after being arrested for a drunk driving charge last week.
- Alex Collins, Seattle running back
Seahawks play Monday night against Buffalo.
- Knile Davis, Kansas City running back
3 carries for 10 yards and 1 catch for 7 yards in the Chiefs’ 19-14 win over Jacksonville.
- Trey Flowers, New England defensive end
Patriots were on a bye. Flowers, by the way, was in Fayetteville over the weekend.
- Hunter Henry, San Diego tight end
- Darius Philon, San Diego defensive lineman
No stats in Chargers’ 43-35 win over Tennessee.
- Ryan Mallett, Baltimore quarterback
Went 1-of-1 passing for 9 yards in Ravens’ 21-14 win over Pittsburgh.
- Brett Goode, Green Bay long snapper
No stats in Packers’ 31-26 loss to Indianapolis.
- Jason Peters, Philadelphia offensive lineman
Started for Eagles in 28-23 loss to Giants. He was disappointed afterward:
— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) November 6, 2016
- AJ Derby, Denver tight end
Targeted once, but no catches in Broncos’ 30-20 loss to Oakland.
- Chris Smith, Jacksonville defensive end
No stats in loss to Chiefs.
- Martrell Spaight, Washington linebacker
Redskins were on a bye.
- Robert Thomas, New York Giants defensive tackle
1 tackle in Giants’ win.
- Jonathan Williams, Buffalo running back
Bills play Monday night against Seattle.
- Jarius Wright, Minnesota wide receiver
- Brandon Allen, Jacksonville quarterback
- Sebastian Tretola, Tennessee offensive lineman
No stats in Titans’ loss.
- Cobi Hamilton, Pittsburgh wide receiver
Targeted once, but no catches in Steelers’ loss.
Yee-Haw! Today in Arkansas
Wednesday can’t get here fast enough for most Americans. Count me among them.
I thought this was a joke when I first saw it on another site. It isn’t. A batch of ballots in Lonoke County inserted an extra “i” into Hillary Clinton’s name on the paper ballot. I’m sure it’s a grand coincidence, what with it being right between the second “l” and the “a.”
This story from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.