If you know what to expect Saturday when Florida visits Arkansas, raise your hand.
First, there are the Razorbacks, who, if you simply look at their overall record, appear to be a solid, but not great, football team. At 5-3, they’re a game short of bowl eligibility with four left and just two wins from finishing with a winning record; no small feat considering the SEC still is college football’s best conference.
Further inspection — and yes, I realize I’m preaching to the choir here — shows Arkansas with just one win against a team in the top 20 in ESPN’s Football Power Index and zero against teams currently ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. Three of its five wins have come by a grand total of eight points and the other two came against bad teams, including one in FCS.
Then, the Gators. Sitting pretty at the top of the SEC East, Florida holds the key to its own destiny. The Gators are 6-1 and every team they’ve defeated, save one, has been beaten by more than seven points.
Of course, those teams are Massachusetts, Kentucky, North Texas, Vanderbilt, Missouri and Georgia. Those teams have a combined record of 21-28. Only Kentucky has a winning record. The only other decent team Florida has played, Tennessee, won by 10.
So are the Gators good or a mirage?
Not sure the answer comes this weekend. If Arkansas beats Florida, some will say the Gators were a fraud, anyway. Others might use it as a rallying cry to show the Razorbacks have bounced back from their sub-par in-conference showing so far. Florida winning can either show Arkansas is still mired in a hole or the Gators can actually beat a good team, on the road no less.
Accordingly, the game holds a massive amount of importance for both. Florida can all but lock up the SEC East with a win and Arkansas, with another loss, could be in for tough sledding, what with two of the final three games on the road and the only home game against LSU, a team that runs downhill, something Arkansas hasn’t been able to stop at all this year.
Let the fingernail biting commence in Gainesville and Fayetteville.
No way I’m the only one who sees things that way.
Is Florida a “must-win” for Arkansas in the sense the Razorbacks have to have it to be bowl eligible or does that threshold even matter to fans? This segment, like every Monday, is your chance to sound off.
Eight wins is, to me, still a good season and better than I anticipated. But that’s awfully hard to achieve without an Arkansas win over Florida.
The generic one everyone is asking …
My vote: 2-2. Wins over Missouri and Mississippi State. I had Arkansas losing to the Bulldogs when I picked games over the summer, but that looks less and less likely the way Dan Mullen’s team has been playing.
And lastly, the fun one. Brought this up over the weekend on Twitter and got some pushback.
Hint: It’s The Aviator.
About Friday night
Arkansas basketball cruised against an overmatched Central Missouri team in the Hogs’ first exhibition, 87-60. The Razorbacks play again this Friday against Emporia State. It’s the team’s second and final exhibition before opening the regular season against Fort Wayne the following Friday.
Exhibition games mean very little. Most Division I teams play DII or lower schools and they tend to roll. But even when they don’t, it doesn’t mean the DI team will be bad. Still, it was a positive sign for an Arkansas team breaking more than half its roster as new.
It was a somewhat troubling to see Arkansas go 1 of 18 from 3-point range against a team lacking the type of athletes and length the Razorbacks will see during the regular season. It does appear, though, Arkansas will go 10-deep, if not greater, with ease.
Plus, the Razorbacks have this going for them.
Arkansas started three players with a combined 13 years of college experience and two JUCO's in last night's exhibition. Razorbacks are OLD.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) October 29, 2016
Older teams tend to outplay expectation.
At least one national writer has Arkansas pulling off the upset.
The funny thing is, Tennessee is still going to win the SEC East at 5-3. Florida will lose at Arkansas and at LSU. SEC East is a joke.
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) October 30, 2016
Moses Kingsley, Arkansas’ senior center, was ranked the 21st-best player in college basketball by NBC Sports. He’s also the No. 6 big man in those rankings.
Now that the NFL is about halfway finished with its season, the NBA kicks in. That leaves us two major American sports in which there are professional former Razorbacks. NFL first:
- Travis Swanson, Detroit center
Started for Lions at center in 20-13 loss to Houston. By the way, Swanson seems like one of the good guys in the game.
— Alex Frosinos (@alexfrosinos85) October 30, 2016
- Alvin Bailey, Cleveland offensive lineman
Started at left guard for Browns in 31-28 loss to the New York Jets.
- Alex Collins, Seattle running back
No stats in Seahawks’ 25-20 loss to New Orleans.
- Knile Davis, Green Bay running back
3 carries for 4 yards and 2 catches for 4 yards in Packers’ 33-32 loss to Atlanta.
- Trey Flowers, New England defensive end
5 tackles and 2 sacks in Patriots’ 41-25 win over Buffalo.
- Hunter Henry, San Diego tight end
2 catches for 14 yards in Chargers’ 27-19 loss to Denver.
- Darius Philon, San Diego defensive lineman
1 tackle in Chargers’ loss.
- Ryan Mallett, Baltimore quarterback
Ravens were on a bye.
- Brett Goode, Green Bay long snapper
No stats in Packers’ loss.
- Jason Peters, Philadelphia offensive lineman
Started for Eagles in 29-23 loss to Dallas.
- AJ Derby, Denver tight end
- Chris Smith, Jacksonville defensive end
2 tackles in Jaguars’ 36-22 loss to Tennessee.
- Martrell Spaight, Washington linebacker
No stats in Redskins’ 27-27 tie against Cincinnati.
- Robert Thomas, New York Giants defensive tackle
Giants were on a bye.
- Jonathan Williams, Buffalo running back
5 carries for 12 yards an a touchdown in Bills’ loss.
- Jarius Wright, Minnesota wide receiver
Vikings play Monday night against Chicago.
- Brandon Allen, Jacksonville quarterback
- Sebastian Tretola, Tennessee offensive lineman
Played but collected no stats in Titans’ win over Jacksonville.
- Cobi Hamilton, Pittsburgh wide receiver
Steelers were on a bye.
Over in the NBA, Arkansas has three players on rosters. Here’s how they’re doing through the first few days of the season:
- Bobby Portis, Chicago forward
Played in one of two Bulls games so far. Grabbed 2 boards and scored 2 points in seven minutes.
- Joe Johnson, Utah swingman
Averaging 20 points in 31 minutes in the Jazz’s three games so far.
- Patrick Beverley, Houston guard
Out for three-to-five more weeks with a knee injury.
• So, Arkansas cross country is stupid good. The Razorbacks won SEC titles in both men’s 8-kilometer and women’s 6-kilometer races over the weekend. It’s the 16th time both teams captured the crown in the same season. It’s also the 41st time the men’s team has won the SEC title in the last 43 years.
• The women’s tennis team finished a solid weekend in Springfield, Mo., going 14-4 combined in doubles and singles at the Missouri State Invitational. Freshman Natsuho Arakawa won the flight 1 singles individual title and she and Agne Cepelyte won the flight 1 doubles crown.
• Arkansas soccer, fresh off a 15-4 season and a third-place finish in the SEC, landed five postseason individual honors from the conference. Senior Claire Kelley was named a first-team All-SEC selection, and junior defender Jessi Hartzler and sophomore defender Qyara Winston were chosen to the second team. Stefani Doyle and Kayla McKeon were also selected to the SEC All-Freshman Team.
• Down two sets to none, Arkansas volleyball rallied for its second straight SEC win Sunday afternoon against Georgia. Arkansas beat Mississippi State earlier in the week, and with the two wins, the Razorbacks moved from a tie for last to 11th in the SEC standings.
Happy Halloween, y’all.