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The battle and the war


The look on Houston Nutt's face when we recovered that onside kick makes everything worth it. Despite being manhandled the entire night, Arkansas was still in the game. We won't go away. We'll haunt the rest of his career. You've heard about the battle and the war. Winning one game doesn't mean he's escaped with his dignity intact.

The Razorbacks finally have a true rival, even if it's just Mississippi. Playing for the Boot is well and good, carefully designed and surprisingly fruitful for a wholly contrived exhibition, but there's nothing like genuine enmity to make for real drama. Word of antics on the Ole Miss sideline seems to indicate that they're content to fan the flames for a while. We'll see what song they're singing in a few seasons.

I had to watch the game alone. Well, my brand-spanking new wife was there, sitting beside me on the couch buried in her computer. We'd just recently returned from a whirlwind couple of weeks in NYC getting hitched. Exhausted, surrounded on all sides by boxes and yet-unpacked luggage, we weren't quite ready to face a tailgate. Not at all caught up in the action, she was a pretty good gauge of the healthiness of my emotional investment. Her face as I rocked back and forth next to her, occasionally springing to my feet and cursing a blue streak, displayed a look of alarm and concern that had nothing to do with the game. What did she marry?

You never lose a game because of a bad call. That call was horrible, unacceptable and even the ref who made it knows that by now. But three straight three-and-outs in that mind-numbing third quarter had more to do with our losing, not to mention embarrassing play at the corners and complete ownage on both sides of the line of scrimmage. The Rebels only sacked Casey Dick three times, but he spent a lot of the game on his back. If you don't think Nutt doesn't know exactly how to get in that kid's head, and that he didn't inform his monstrous line of that fact, then you pro'lly think the e-mail scandal was just a kerfuffle as well.

Whatever. Disappointment is better than hopelessness. We're playing to win every game and always have a fighting chance.

A homecoming game against No. 18 Tulsa (8-0) may seem like a bad idea from this perspective, but I applaud the scheduling decision. Giving your team a chance to beat a quality opponent with the roaring support of a stadium full of alumni is the kind of nonconference finagling that plays into bowl selection. I'm not sure we can pull it off this year, against an offense that put up over 600 yards in a single game earlier this season, but in years to come we'll want to play noncons a little saltier than Southeast Missouri State.

Something tells me that former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn just might get a warmer welcome than Colonel Reb. He's primed for a head coaching position, especially with Tulsa coach Todd Graham such a hot property, and most Hog fans would be happy for him. That doesn't mean Hog fans won't want to ruin the Golden Hurricanes' undefeated season. Tulsa's defense has not been terribly effective this year, though they managed to only give up half as many points as their opponents in roughly the same amount of time. UCA put 34 on the board against them earlier this year. Maybe our offense will get some practice finishing drives this weekend.


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