This isn’t exactly breaking news, but …
Arkansas has not beaten Florida once in football since both teams were in the SEC. In fact, the Razorbacks own just a single win over the Gators in the history of the series — the 1982 Bluebonnet Bowl. Saturday’s game marks the best chance, perhaps.
The only time in the previous nine matchups, in SEC play, Arkansas would have been retroactively expected to beat Florida was in 2003, when the Razorbacks finished 9-4 to Florida’s 8-5. Every other year the Gators have finished with a superior record at the end of the season, sometimes a much-superior record.
And while it’s likely Florida will finish 2016 with a better record than Arkansas, too, this seems like the best chance the Razorbacks could actually beat Florida since that 2003 season.
The first SEC win against the Gators aside, an Arkansas win would regain some lost momentum as the Razorbacks head into the final three games. Who knows what could happen after that?
Six players on the Arkansas women’s basketball team knelt during the national anthem before the Razorbacks’ exhibition game against Oklahoma Baptist on Thursday night at Bud Walton Arena.
Briunna Freeman, Yasmeen Ratliff, Tatiyana Smith, Jailyn Mason, Kiara Williams and Jordan Danberry hooked arms and took one knee to the gym floor just as the anthem began. Razorbacks staffers appeared to be aware the protest was going to take place; one looked down the row of players toward the protesters.
Select members of the Razorback women's basketball kneeled during the national anthem ahead of tonight's exhibition game pic.twitter.com/lYQZFD36RX
— Razorback Nation (@RazNation) November 4, 2016
The protest is the first for any Arkansas athlete since San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made national news for doing the same before a preseason game in early September.
Reaction to the protest was largely angry from the fan base, though not completely. Coach Jimmy Dykes said after the game, which was a 79-32 win, he was “proud” of his players for doing what they believed was right.
Jimmy Dykes: We are extremely proud of our young ladies. They have strong, well educated opinions, based on their real life experiences.
— Razorback Nation (@RazNation) November 4, 2016
Kudos to Dykes, who said he holds some different beliefs than his players. Most people who know Dykes knew that about him. My fear was he would be less enthusiastic in his approval. But, man, that’s a leader. His boss is, too.
Athletic director Jeff Long, released a statement shortly after the game. You can see it below, screenshotted from my email.
The biggest fear going forward isn’t whether fans attend or boycott the games, it’s how the players will be treated based on what I see, anecdotally, as 90 percent blowback. Good luck, women, and good for you doing what was in your heart. And, again — raised glass — well done, Dykes and Long.
Hey, look! Football!
Maybe that headline will calm some of the seething rage regarding the previous topic.
Arkansas remains a four-point home underdog to Florida as of Friday morning. That doesn’t bode well for the Razorbacks chances. Not because they’re an underdog, necessarily, but because Arkansas is just 3-5 against the spread this season.
Of course, the Razorbacks are 5-3 overall, so, like everything else, the point of view depends on your optimism. A win and Arkansas is bowl eligible with its two “easiest” SEC games left among its final three. The Hogs still are a team that can, conceivably, win nine games. Or even just eight, if you’re of the opinion (like most are) the LSU game is going to be super tough because of Arkansas’ difficulty stopping the run this year.
That’d chalk up another good season, and despite the tumult, a better one, technically, than last year’s seven-win regular campaign.
Let’s see what Saturday brings.
- The last quarterback named something other than “Ryan Mallett” to lead Arkansas to an eight-win regular season? Casey Dick. SEC Country caught up with him to talk about the state of the Razorbacks and some other things this week.
- Arkansas linebacker and good-guy Brooks Ellis was named as a semifinalist for the Wuerffel Trophy on Thursday. The award is given to the college football player who exhibits a high standard of volunteerism and community service.
- Over at Arkansas Fight, the Razorbacks’ SB Nation page, Adam Ford takes an advanced-stats look at this weekend’s game.
- Jeremiah Ledbetter and Brooks Ellis have been invited to play in the 2017 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, per Matt Jones at WholeHogSports.
- Arkansas senior basketball player Jessica Jackson was named preseason first-team All-SEC by the league’s coaches on Wednesday. Only one player in school history has scored 1,000 points faster than Jackson has, according to the university release. The Razorbacks open regular-season play Friday, Nov. 11, against Sam Houston State at Bud Walton Arena. After Thursday night, I’m curious to see the reaction.
- Men’s tennis players Jose Salazar and Mike Redlicki each won their round-of-32 matches at the ITA/USTA National Indoor Championships on Thursday. Arkansas is the only SEC school with multiple players left in the tournament. Salazar will face UCLA’s Gage Brymer on Friday, while Redlicki, the No. 11 player in the nation, will face Ole Miss’ Gustav Hansson.
- The swimming and diving team lost Thursday night to No. 18 Florida, 188-112. It’s the first loss of the season for the Razorbacks, who have never beaten Florida in the sport.
- Arkansas’ women’s tennis team heads to Providence, R.I., on Friday and through the weekend for the Brown Classic against Boston College, the host Bears and Utah. The Razorbacks will play four doubles matches and eight singles matches over the course of the weekend.
Yee-Haw! Today in Arkansas
No comment on these other than to say people can be terrible.
— 2nd Infantry Vet (@ArkVet30) November 4, 2016
— David Stout (@Dstout510) November 4, 2016
Be better than this.