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Pre-bowl bullets



Ah, the fallow period between conference championships and the Udrove Humanitarian Bowl between Fresno State and Northern Illinois. What are you going to live for over the next two weeks? I guess there's family, but you've been neglecting them for the past 12-14 Saturdays, and they have their own routines established by now. Even your dog has learned to live without you.

• Saturday activities worth considering: 1). Finally Googling "Wikileaks" to see what that's all about. 2). Chipping away at your Ship-in-a-Bottle. 3). Raking the damn lawn for once. 4). Playing catch-up with 2010's New Year's resolutions (Get real: there's no way you're learning Spanish in under a month). 5). Spa day!

• Of course, you'd rather station yourself at the computer and keep a watchful eye out for anything you might perceive as a slight on Twitter. Somebody's gotta keep the national media in check! Be sure to amp up the vociferousness for max effect! Overstatement is our ally! We may have a chip on our shoulder, but chips are delicious.

• And when you're not busily defending Razorback honor against its many enemies, you'll probably be wrapping your head around the national scene — no easy task in a year this chaotic.

Let's start with the fact that every major conference is having a down year. The Big 12 is laughable. The Pac 10 has been uneven. The Big 10 might have always been a two-team conference, but this year just one team managed to perform with any consistency, if only capitalizing on the inconsistencies of the competition. The SEC-East is in shambles. In fact, the SEC-West seems to be the only concentration of elite competition in the country.

Exhibit A: Auburn vs. South Carolina. ESPN did its best to build up Spurrier's first appearance with the Gamecocks, but there's no getting around their having been the beneficiaries of Georgia and Florida's various foibles, especially after Auburn thrashed them with such ease.

Arkansas's own Billy Bob Thornton did voiceover work for the SEC Championship game. By my estimate, it was his biggest role in more than five years. But how will history view his role? Is his the voice of last hurrah? Or a footnote in a down year?

Let's talk about perception. SEC fans are notorious for their wild ideas about conference superiority, appealing to the SEC grind with a regularity bordering on the liturgical, but is the conference really all that good this year?

When Florida State thrashed Florida at home, you just know some diehard Wisconsin or Oklahoma State fan's deepest held beliefs were confirmed. Those folks have been plugging their ears against an unrelenting S-E-C chant for going on a decade now and must have looked on with great satisfaction as the runner-up from a conference as weak as the ACC slayed that aging dragon.

Yes, all but two SEC teams head to bowl games this post-season, but those match-ups are anything but auspicious, and lord knows SEC teams don't turn up for anything less than the BCS. Still, the SEC best make a good showing if they don't want that hard-earned benefit of the doubt to begin affecting preseason rankings.

Arkansas can do its part by socking national mainstay Ohio State in its mossy old jaw. The LSU game was as good a rehearsal as any: a better, faster and more tested defense; a talented, athletic, but ill-served quarterback; a similar sense of entitlement that here outpaces accomplishment.

I'll spend the next couple weeks watching Ohio State plow their way through poor competition, of course keying on the Wisconsin game, as that's the only credible offense their vaunted defense has faced.

Oh, the smugness. That's your privilege, Hog fans. This team is a legitimate BCS contender, no matter that they managed to sneak in the back door, and nothing should get between you and a self-satisfied smile between now and Jan. 4. After all, you spectated real good all season long.

Follow Derek Jenkins throughout the week and during games on Twitter @aboynamedsooie.

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