This Saturday will mark the biggest game in the state of Arkansas since the last top 10 match-up in 1979, when No. 6 Houston came to Fayetteville to face the No. 3 Arkansas Razorbacks.
A lot has changed in 31 years.
The Hogs are now ranked 10th in the nation, the Houston Cougars season is in what appears to be a downward spiral, after losing both their starting and second string QBs.
Last but not least, the University of Alabama Crimson Tide is No. 1 in the country.
One thing is for sure, this will be a huge game.
University of Arkansas students began camping outside DW Reynolds Razorback Stadium late Monday night/early Tuesday morning for a game that has been sold out for two weeks.
Shortly thereafter, Arkansas students pleaded via Facebook and Twitter, for a "Red Out."
However, I do not believe that this will be necessary. The Crimson Tide come to Fayetteville boasting the No. 1 ranking in the nation, so I believe that they would like to keep that intact.
The Hogs go into Saturday remembering how they felt after the game a year ago in Tuscaloosa, the trip back, and having to sit and watch the game on film.
That game has been on the Razorback players minds throughout last season, leading into this season.
Arkansas doesn't need a gimmicky "Red Out" to remind them how big this game is; they don't need a thing with Ryan Mallett in the locker room.
If you ask Arkansas' field general about Alabama, he changes his tone.
His boyish smile goes away.
His chipper happy go lucky attitude fades and a serious, strictly business demeanor comes over him.
He remembers completing only 12 of his 35 pass attempts last year, he remembers the pass rush, he remembers looking up at the scoreboard after the game at the 35-7 final.
If you would have asked him at the beginning of the season how many wins he predicted his Hogs to win this year, his answer was quick and simple: 14.
If you ask him right now, his answer: 14.
Ryan Mallett not only wants to change the way the fan base feels about the Arkansas Razorbacks—he wants to change the way the nation perceives the Hogs.
He brings a winning attitude to a team that has had its share of disappointments and letdowns.
He was a Razorback fan in 1998 when an undefeated Arkansas squad took on undefeated Tennessee and lost after Clint Stoerner fumbled in the waning moments, allowing the Volunteers to make a game winning drive.
He brings the passion of a life long fan to this Arkansas Razorbacks team.
But it's not just him: This entire team has shown that, although they may be down, such as last week's game against SEC foe Georgia, they are certainly not out.
The improvement that this Arkansas team has made is quite evident to people around the state.
A year ago, Arkansas loses that game. There is no dramatic comeback. Only a defensive fold and another painful loss.
All the critics said in the preseason, "Arkansas won't be improved enough on defense."
The Hogs D begs to differ.
During the Ark-UGA game, the defense forced three and outs, bad passes, and came away with 6 sacks.
They currently sit in the top 10 in most every category nationally. But they are looking to build on that and keep on improving.
The past few days, this Arkansas Razorback team has sat back and listened to the entire country tell them that they don't stand a chance.
That this game will be "deja vu."
I sincerely hope that the Crimson Tide football team shares the same view of most the their fans.
I hope that they waltz into DW Reynolds Razorback Stadium thinking: "We got this one in the bag."
But we all know that won't be the case.
Nick Saban is a phenomenal coach, who will have his team ready to play come Saturday.
But don't think for a second that the Arkansas Razorbacks don't stand a fighting chance.
After all, this Crimson Tide defense has yet to face an offense like this.
Through the first three games this season for Alabama, it has been there. Noticed by opposing coaches, who were unable to exploit it due to lack of player experience and talent.
Alabama's young secondary has shown the Arkansas coaching staff all they need to see to at least make this a competitive game. When Alabama played then No. 18 Penn State, true freshman Rob Bolden saw creases in the coverage but didn't have the accuracy or arm strength to make Bama pay for their defensive flaws.
That is a different story with Ryan Mallett on deck.
Sure, you might sit back and say that the Arkansas Razorbacks don't stand a chance.
But I'm sure that Jacksonville State and James Madison were told something similar. Ask Houston Nutt and Frank Beamer how that worked out.
For more insight or opinions from James, feel free to follow him on Twitter.com/@that_who_is_he
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