Perhaps it’s appropriate that I was at a watering hole called Six Feet Under when I first heard a score from the Western Illinois game. Because, from a fan perspective, Saturday night was something of a near-death experience.
The ESPN crawl on the TV above the bar delivered the jarring news: With a little more than seven minutes to go, the Razorbacks trailed 24-21 (little did I know that the deficit had been 10 points just moments before). I was prepared for some - perhaps a lot of - low moments this season, but I wasn’t prepared for this.
I immediately began rationalizing furiously - the Razorbacks have suffered huge upsets before (football: see The Citadel; basketball: see American-Puerto Rico and Appalachian State) and the sun still rose the next morning. Still, visions of Pat Forde and the boys from Bristol - as well as the entire Atlanta sports talk radio universe - gleefully dancing on the Hogs’ grave were impossible to get out of my mind.
Fortunately, we were called back from the white light (although I did see Elvis - he’s lost a lot of weight) when the much-maligned Casey Dick rushed for the game-winning touchdown with less than two minutes to play.
What to make of Saturday’s brush with death? Well, for one thing, our prediction of six wins may be a wee bit optimistic. Overall, though, I hesitate to make too much of it. The Hogs are awfully green, it was their first game under their new coach … in retrospect, perhaps their season-opening performance shouldn’t be that much of a shock.
And frankly, nothing - except, perhaps, a nine-win season - should be a shock this year. There are just so many unknowns with this team. Which should make for one hell of an interesting season.