Arkansas Razorbacks-Florida Gators: Will The Hogs Be Spoilers or Gator Bait
Arkansas usually wins one game a year that they "shouldn't" win. The past two years it's been LSU. Arkansas won a couple against Texas in the early part of this decade. And Arkansas has beaten Bama a couple of times.
Florida usually loses a game they shouldn't. Last year it was Ole Miss. In the last few years, they've lost to South Carolina and even Mississippi State. That game was effectively the end for Ron Zook.
So what are the odds that these two dynamics merge on the same day when Arkansas plays at the swamp? While it gives some hope (and so does the Razorback's electric offense), one still would be doubtful. Last year, with less of a team, Arkansas was keeping it close until the late third quarter. Then, Florida rattled off a couple of scores to seal the win and make the scoreline appear more convincing than the win itself.
This game, like most of the others, will again be about the Hog defense. They've gotten a little better with each game. And Florida hasn't been an offensive juggernaut this season. They didn't handle Tennessee the way everyone expected them to and their only touchdown against LSU was clearly due to an officiating crew breakdown. Even the convincing first half at Kentucky was aided (for the second year in a row) by special teams breakdowns on the part of Kentucky more than offensive fireworks by Florida.
But Kentucky, Tennessee, and LSU are all struggling on offense. While the Gator defense did its job in those games, these teams haven't exactly been lighting it up against lesser defenses than the Gators. Arkansas, however, is 11th in the nation in total offense and has scored 41 or more points in all of their games except for Bama. The Gator defense will be tested in this game. Arkansas should definitely score more than the other three SEC teams Florida has faced (the highest so far was 13, by Tennessee).
So while I don't expect an Arkansas win, I also don't expect a blowout. For the Hogs to win, they'll need some turnovers or some drive-killing penalties on the Gators. Some decent field position would be useful too. The key is hanging around and getting some confidence while removing the crowd as an element. Arkansas will probably also have to settle for some field goals so making those with consistency will be vital.
I do expect Arkansas to be 3-3 after this game with the more difficult half of their schedule having been played. One can continue to be tormented by the fact that Arkansas was on the way to beating Georgia and then self-destructed. But I'm still happy the team has "broken even" over this first six games.
Had you asked me before the season, I would have picked Arkansas to beat A&M and Missouri State, lose to Bama and Florida, and split Georgia and Auburn. That's exactly what has happened so far. So a loss at Florida is nothing to be too upset about in the big scheme. And a win...well let's just say I'd trade a couple of those losses to Georgia for a win at the Swamp. I'm sure most Razorback fans agree with me.
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