The Audacity of Hope: Can Arkansas Beat Reigning SEC Champion Florida?

Tom KesslerCorrespondent IOctober 16, 2009

TAMPA, FL - MARCH 13:  The mascot of the Florida Gators cheers during the game against the Auburn Tigers during the quaterfinal round of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament on March 13, 2009 at The St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The Florida Gators have never completed an undefeated season. They traditionally have trouble with an SEC West team during the middle of the season.  People are talking about the Arkansas contest as being a “trap game” for the Gators.

The Arkansas game is not a trap game for Florida…the Florida game is a trap game for the Razorbacks. 

The Razorbacks entire season was made by handing Auburn their first defeat of the year. A game that Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino said the Hogs had to win. The Razorbacks dominated both sides of the ball for most of the game giving fans the audacity of hope riding into the Swamp.

Many fans will rightly think that the Hogs are playing good ball right now, and that they have a chance against Florida.  In fact, in one Bleacher Report poll , 22.8 percent of respondents are actually predicting an Arkansas victory on Saturday over the Gators…by 10+ points. 

10+ Points.

In the Swamp.

Against Superman.

Pass the moonshine, grab the remote and take a seat Hogs fans. Your Saturday afternoon is going to be unexpectedly wide open as you disgustedly turn off the TV. Maybe use the free hour or so to buy more wife beaters at Wal-Mart.

Arkansas fans have confidence in their defense, and for good reason. The Razorbacks did a good job keeping Auburn’s high scoring offense stymied for much of the game last Saturday. And the Florida Gators haven’t been lighting up SEC defenses with prolific scoring statistics.

Arkansas also has Ryan Mallet, a tall pocket passer who has looked good this year, and has some nice statistics to prove it.

But Mallett is young and inexperienced, playing his first game in The Swamp.

Factor in that the Florida Gators will be out to prove that their defense is better than Alabama’s.  And what better way to do that than by having a better statistical day against a common opponent. Alabama limited Mallet Head’s points to seven.  Florida wants to do better…and that’s a recipe for a long day for young Mr. Mallett. You’ve heard the cliché that defense wins championships…well you’ll see the nation’s best defense on the field totally shut down Petrino’s offense on Saturday.

The LSU game showed just how dominant the Gators Defense is this year…bailing out a soft offensive performance by a rusty Timmy T.

This week, the defense is just as good against the Hogs, but our offense will be better, scoring more points against a soft Arkansas defense.

When Florida jumps out to a big lead, expect to see the best secondary in college football create multiple interceptions…as Petrino will be forced to open things up, unlike Lame Kiffin when he played to not get embarrassed.

Florida fans have to be thinking if this the week another receiver other than Riley Cooper will step up. Fans will wonder why Brandon James has looked pedestrian on returns this year. Is it because he’s playing more as receiver? Will Florida block a punt on Saturday? Why doesn’t Florida’s secondary have more interceptions?

The answers are: Yes, Maybe, No, Perhaps, Because. But they're out of order, I'll let you figure that out.

One thing that I've figured out is that this Florida defense is a very special unit. Watch greatness on Saturday.

The story line from the Gators v Razorbacks game on Saturday will be reflected in Sunday’s headlines, “Gators Hammer Mallett.”