Saturday, September 25, 2010

Arkansas Razorbacks and Alabama Crimson Tide, College Football

UPDATE: Alabama beats Arkansas with late rally, 24-20.

By Douglas V. Gibbs

I am going to step away from the politics for this post to relay my feelings about the big game today between the Number 10 Arkansas Razorbacks, and the defending national champions, top ranked, Alabama Crimson Tide.

We must begin this by explaining that though I was born and raised in Southern California, most of my family on my Dad's and Mom's sides of the family (as opposed to my Father's, which is primarily California, Hawaii, and Florida) are from Arkansas. Dad grew up on a dairy farm near Hot Springs, and Mom spent time growing up at various points in Arkansas, and California. My Grandfather, on my Mom's side, spent many years on his piece of property in Conway before passing away a decade ago.

Today, much of my family still resides in the grand State of Arkansas. So, though I am a Californian through and through, I have this little bit of Arkansas tucked away in my soul that keeps me an Arkansas Razorbacks fan. (The fact that I am a veteran from the U.S. Navy keeps me loyal to the Navy Midshipmen too. . . and the fact that my biological father lived much of his life, and died, in Oregon, makes me have a particular liking for the Oregon Ducks).

The Hogs dominated the Southwest Conference decades ago, then made the move to the SEC searching for more competitive pastures than those they had been playing in Texas. The Texas teams took considerable issue with the "searching for better competition" thing, and during the Razorback's final year in the SWC the Texas teams had a field day with the Hogs. Teams that hadn't beaten the Razorbacks since the 40s were slaughtering the departing Arkansas team.

Southeastern Conference football is, however, a whole new ballgame, and though the Razorbacks have won the western division of the SEC a few times, they have never really had a dominant team since the move to the new conference, save for one year where Darren McFadden nearly took them to the BCS dance. This year, however, the search for the national championship, and a serious contender for the Heisman Trophy, both belongs to the Arkansas Razorbacks. . . should they beat the defending national champions at home, in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Heisman contender, and Arkansas' heart and soul of this year's team, is the quarterback, Ryan Mallett, a junior that led the SEC in all of the quarterback statistics, for the most part, last year. A year later, Mallett is better, more mature, and has a team that has matured with him. The thrilling win last week against Georgia has placed incredible momentum on the side of the Hogs.

Alabama's great defense returns only two men, this year. Arkansas' running game is historically good, but lately Arkansas hasn't had a 100 yard rusher in a game, so Alabama's defense could still pose a problem for the running game. And if the running game doesn't get kick started, it could be a rough ride for the quarterback in search of opening up the passing game. Alabama also has a potent offense, and during the second half of the game against Georgia, Arkansas' defense almost allowed Georgia to come back and win it.

The salvation last week against Georgia in the final quarter was Ryan Mallett, and the Hogs' offensive line. If Arkansas is going to win this week, Mallett will have to have a Heisman performance, and both the offensive and defensive lines of the Razorbacks will need to show us something special. I do believe that the Hogs have it in them.

Watch for the Crimson Tide to have their way offensively in the first quarter, but somehow the Razorbacks with keep pace. Then the Arkansas defense will settle down, and Alabama will go into halftime with a slim lead. Third quarter, Arkansas will explode, but in the final quarter Alabama will battle back, bringing the game down to the final play of the game, and possibly it will go into overtime. However, after the dust settles, Arkansas will win it by a slim margin, and look forward to their next challenges with Texas A&M and Auburn. Should Arkansas make it through the gauntlet of the next three games, and pull off a win against LSU in the season finale, expect the Hogs to win the SEC Championship Game, and be in position to pursue the national championship.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

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