This Saturday, Oct. 17, the Arkansas Razorback football team will take on the defending national champion and No. 1 rated Florida Gators. The Hogs have defeated the No. 1 rated team in college football a total of four times in the football program's 115-year history.
In a bit of irony, on two of those four victorious occasions, the Hogs beat the No. 1 rated team on the date of Oct. 17.
The only time Arkansas has played a No. 1 team who was a defending national champion on that date, the Hogs defeated the Texas Longhorns in Austin, TX on Oct. 17, 1964.
Will that have any bearing on the game in Gainesville, FL this Saturday? I seriously doubt that it will. Neither the Razorbacks or Gators have anyone on the team who was even born the last time the Hogs beat a No. 1 team on the date of Oct. 17 back in 1981. That game was also a victory over the Texas Longhorns, by the way.
History aside, the question remains: do the Hogs have a chance to beat the Florida Gators in 2009? The Gators are a 25-point favorite at home and have beaten the Hogs seven consecutive times.
Lost in all the hype over quarterback Tim Tebow, the Florida Gators' defense held the OU Sooners to only ten points in the BCS National Championship game back in January. The same Sooners who scored around half-a-hundred points per game in the regular season.
The Florida defense has given up only 32 points in five games this season. The Hogs gave up 28 to Georgia in the first half of the two teams' game last month. I don't know if Georgia has scored 28 points since that game.
All signs point to a Florida win in the Gators' Homecoming. The Gators' defense is maybe the only defensive unit in college football that could possibly lay claim to being the best in the country besides Alabama. We saw what Alabama did to the Arkansas offense. So why play the game?
In a big game less than two years ago, one team was a huge favorite, the New England Patriots. Their opponents, the New York Giants, still not only made an appearance, but scored a huge upset.
Late last September, the Ole Miss Rebels were in the midst of a long SEC losing streak. How could a team that had lost all those SEC games in a row possibly go into the swamp and win? Those are a pair of examples of why they play the game.
The problem is, I'm sure the Florida players have only been reminded of that 31-30 loss a little over a year ago a few thousand times by now. Urban Meyer was recently quoted as saying Arkansas was better than that Ole Miss team at this point last season. Could lightning strike twice?
As much as I would like to answer in the affirmative, I don' think the Florida Gators need to carry a lightning rod this Saturday. The Hogs' leading receiver until last week, Joe Adams, will miss the game after what was called a "mild stroke" last week.
Jarius Wright, like Tim Tebow, is coming off a concussion. The difference is Tebow is two weeks further removed from the concussion than Wright. Wright at about 5'10" and 180 pounds, is much slighter than Tebow. Quite a few yards and touchdowns separate the pair also.
The only way I can see the Hogs coming out of Gainesville with a win Saturday is if the Hogs' offensive line gives Ryan Mallett a lot of time to throw by gaining yards on the ground and setting up play action passes to the Hogs' depleted receiver corps.
An added advantage for Florida is quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler and his familiarity with Ryan Mallett. Loeffler was Michigan's main man in the recruitment of Mallett and Loeffler was Mallett's position coach in the 2007 season for the Wolverines.
On the defensive side, while Florida has not seen an offense nearly as good as the Hogs' this season, let's not forget what happened in the national championship game. The Hogs' would have to play their best and get some help from Florida.
The Hogs' defense would have to cut out all the big play touchdowns opponents have scored in every contest or limit the big plays to only one or two.
In spite of all the glitz and glamor of the two offenses, this game will be won in the trenches. As fast and flashy as the Gators are on the flanks, this team is equally strong at the point of attack.
In short, as much as I will be rooting for the Hogs to pull the upset, realistically I know that lightning won't likely strike twice in Gainesville on an early fall Saturday.
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