It seems like forever since the Hogs have been competitive with Alabama on the football field.
The last five games in the series have reflected the Razorback program’s fall in Bret Bielema’s final year and its utter mismanagement under the succeeding regime. But in 2014, Arkansas dropped a 14-13 game it should have won in Fayetteville (remember the ’64 thowback uniforms?) and the next season hung close in a 27-14 loss.
Not counting the 2007 forfeit (the Tide later had to vacate a 41-38 win in Tuscaloosa in Nick Saban’s first year at the helm), the last Razorback win on the field was a 24-23 win in Fayetteville in 2006. Houston Nutt vs. Mike Shula. But since Saban has roamed the sideline for Bama, the Hogs have dropped 13 straight.
Alabama, of course, is on a historic run and the Hogs under Sam Pittman are pulling themselves out of the worst decade in program history. But the gap is closing. At 7-3 and ranked 21st, Arkansas is getting back to the Arkansas of old. And Alabama, currently No. 2 behind Georgia, perhaps isn’t quite as Bama-like this year.
For what it’s worth — and it’s never wise to compare scores but let’s do it anyway — the only team to beat the Tide this year lost to the Hogs in Dallas back in September.
The gap indeed is closing. Enough for an upset or a shot in the 4th? Don’t know about that. The line is still 20 points, after all. This isn’t the typical dominate Bama team of late, and I think there should be some optimism from our side, but it’s important to not get ahead of ourselves and remember that this still is a Nick Saban-coached Bama team.
The Tide did get a tune up game for us by playing New Mexico State last week, but has to turn around and deal with a good Auburn team in the Iron Bowl next week. And much will be riding on it. Not suggesting Saban will allow anyone associated with the program to look ahead, but maybe Auburn looming right after us will be an advantage.
Doesn’t hurt to dream, does it?
Some notes and observations on Saturday’s CBS afternoon primetime game:
- Will Anderson, No. 31 on defense will certainly be a problem;
- Metchie and Williams at receiver for Bama have the capability to burn us;
- In Alabama’s close games other than A&M, teams like LSU and Florida were able to establish the run and stop the run;
- Their secondary is still capable of giving up some yards. Tennessee and A&M both threw for almost 300;
- I could see us staying more aggressive in the defensive play calling, like we were last week. I hope we are, anyway.
- Bryce Young, their QB, is a Heisman candidate. He’s having a good year but then again, some might say it’s not a loaded Heisman field this year;
- Bama’s defense on average gives up about 300 yards a game — not bad at all, but not vintage Tide either;
- I really do think our offense can score enough to be in this game, but our defense has to play lights out;
- Alabama is really good and may cover the spread, but I just think that line is too big.
This year feels different than the past few. It feels like a legitimate free shot, and it’s hard not to believe in Pittman and this staff. They said we’d bring back the Boot, and we did.
The gap is closing. We’re coming for Bama — maybe next year, in Fayetteville. But this year, I think at least we’ll be competitive — 38-21, Alabama.