Play's at first, infield.

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Play's at first, infield.

I feel good about this one.

Arkansas hosts the South Carolina Gamecocks Saturday, and though it happens rarely, I already have a feeling how this one is going to go.  South Carolina is beaten up, coming off a loss, and are facing their second consecutive road game against an SEC opponent in a “must-win” game scenario. 

Arkansas found itself in this exact scenario when it traveled to Oxford to play Ole Miss, and we all know how that worked out. 

If things play out the way I think they should, Arkansas will take advantage of the suspension of FS Chris Culliver and pick on whoever is playing in his place.  If Mallett is able to get the ball to Joe Adams over the middle of the field, and Michael Smith can get going early, either Greg Childs or Jarius Wright could have a field day on deep passes out of play action.

In every game played at Razorback Stadium this season, the Hogs have played well to start the game.  Even in the loss to Georgia, Arkansas blazed to an early 21-10 lead in the first quarter.  If the Razorbacks play well early on Saturday, it will be interesting to see just how much fight South Carolina has.  Beat up, on the road, and with an offense that has struggled to score points, I could see the Gamecocks folding if things go south for them early in the game. 

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In other football news, the Battle of the Ravine will also be played on Saturday between the Tigers of Ouachita Baptist University  (B.A. ‘03) and the Reddies of Henderson State University.  One of the most unique rivalries in college football, and one I’ve had the pleasure of attending several times.

There may be another rivalry in which the visiting team’s empty stadium is visible from the attendants of the game, but I’m unaware of one. 

There may be another rivalry where going “on the road” to face an opponent is actually done after dressing for the game,  but I’m not aware of one.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Battle of the Ravine, Ouachita Baptist and Henderson State are two small universities located in small Arkadelphia, Arkansas (population 10,000).  The schools are separated by a small ravine, a narrow state highway, and the chasm of state funding.  They don’t always hold true to form, but the stereotypes you might draw upon are there.  Ouachita Baptist is smaller, private, and for its part plays well the role of snooty elitist.  To an extent.  Henderson State is larger, public, and seems to naturally play the role of Joe Sixpack in contrast to OBU’s Bible Thumpers.  To an extent.  The difference is that in a town of 10,000, you’re forced to share things with each other.  Like Wal-Mart.  And Brookshire’s.  And even church.  USC and UCLA this is not.  There’s just not enough room for hate.

Anyway, if you ever find yourself in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, do yourself a favor and drive through both campuses.  It won’t take long, as they are across the street from each other.  Tour Henderson first, and then make your way over to Ouachita.  You might think both schools seem exactly the same.  You might think they seem totally different.  And what’s unique about Arkadelphia, and Ouachita and Henderson, is that you’re absolutely right either way. 

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Hopefully next week I’ll have the time to write a nice, well reasoned piece about SEC football, with abundant research and thoroughly fleshed out theories and zany, entertaining opinions.  That’s what I was shooting for this week, but four softball games in four days was just too much.  After four consecutive days of “Where do I throw it if it comes to me?”, all creative energy is shot. 

Paid off, too.  I never threw it to the wrong person.

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