Bye weeks are the worst.
Despite their necessity, most fans hate a weekend lull where their favorite team is not taking the field.
It means nothing for which to look forward, no tailgate to plan, and no anxiety standing in front of the television holding the remote, tired, yet too superstitious to sit down.
Quick reflection: some Arkansas fans who also cheer for the Silver Star team from Dallas probably remember even more cruel weekends when it seemed both consistently took their mini-vacations at the same time. Only a Pauly Shore movie marathon could make Saturday and Sunday less tolerable.
Yes, byes do have their positives. It’s good for the players, the coaching staff, and a strategic fan can even plan yardwork, a get-together, or a trip in advance of the inevitable boredom.
I was fortunate myself this is the Saturday the Razorbacks get to rest. I will keep it short, yet I will also take the opportunity to thank those of you who take the time week after week to view and possible ponder upon my opinions as it pertains to our beloved Hogs.
I did not feel well Tuesday. In fact, you might say I have never in my life felt worse.
An easy decision to travel to the emergency room led to a personal first. Having never been admitted into the hospital, my stress and concern for my family and own well-being were at an all-time high, and, probably, other than a few people making mention of the upcoming game versus Mississippi State, sports were the farthest thing from my mind.
I placed the importance of what bothers me, what should not, and the priorities that are my family, friends, and loved ones. You may see it as a touch clichéd, but if you get time … No, dare I say make time … tell those around you how much you care for them. Petty spats and differences do not matter.
Sports will always be here when we need reprieve.
If you are reading this, thank you! If you have ever read anything I have ever placed into public view, whether you agreed with me or not, thank you!
To my friends and family who reached out to me this past week, thank you! I truly love you. I know not many people knew of my situation, so for those of you whom consider me even the mildest acquaintance, thank you as well for being in my life.
To Andy Hodges (who graciously tolerated a medication-heavy late night call from me) and the good people at HitThatLine.com, thank you for your patience and understanding as I missed a deadline. Being a small part of your organization is one of the biggest pleasures in life.
To the countless fine folks at Mercy who put me at ease and were able to calmly see me through a very anxious and trying time, you are all greatly appreciated. I cannot extend my gratitude to each of you enough.
All of this having been said, even though it is bye week, the chase for the 2021 HTL Picks Cup still goes strong, and I still honor my infatuation with sports.
(Editor’s Note: Because Andy spent a long time on a phone call Friday night, the picks will be combined this week to save space)
SEC Picks for Week 9
The battle is as close as it can be between Andy and me [is that not the name of a movie?], and, as he stated to me, I should not allow the stress and pressure of his accurate selections make me so ill. Well, played, Hodges. Well played.
Missouri at Vanderbilt: Some years ago, when Vandy was having a really decent season, I remember a very mouthy assistant coach walking past us as he and his players made a victorious walk into the visitor’s tunnel. My young pride thought I would never have any positive feelings towards the Commodores again. Well, honestly, emotions have bested me, and I feel bad for them and their fans this year, and, while I hate to break the news, the sorrow will increase this weekend. Tigers by 30. (Andy’s Pick: Missouri will win, but it won’t be by 30)
(1) Georgia at Florida – GAME OF THE WEEK: Some will say the subsequently listed SEC contest between the Rebels and the Tigers should be GOTW. I don’t feel the same. I think Florida may be able to hang with Georgia in the Swamp for at least 2.5- to 3-quarters, so that will make the game more of an attention draw. The Bulldogs are just too powerful and well-coached. Georgia by 18. (Andy’s Pick: Nothing surprises me in this game every year, but Georgia is the pick)
(10) Ole Miss at (18) Auburn: This game has potential, and I think Auburn is turning a corner. I also feel Ole Miss has gotten by with a little luck. I hate to see Bo Nix win (mostly because he is an Eddie Haskell reincarnate), but the Eagles will pull this off. Plainsmen by 10. (Andy’s Pick: The Rebels are playing as well as anybody in the conference and will handle the Tigers)
(12) Kentucky at Mississippi State: “Go Wildcats,” said a good friend of mine once, and I have had a soft spot for the team from Lexington ever since. Ironically, Kentucky is ranked 12th, but that’s an inside story. Outside of that, I don’t think Mike Leach has the Bulldogs ready to win a close one, even at home, and Big Blue is as confident as they have been in years. Long live the memory of Jared Lorenzen. “Hey, where are you all going? You’re gonna miss one hell of a football game!” Kentucky by 4. (Andy’s Pick: Mike Leach is going to surprise somebody and it’s tempting to go out on a limb, but having it sawed off under me wouldn’t be fun so Kentucky is the pick)
Enjoy the weekend off, and let’s get ready for Mississippi State. If you are not going to use your tickets, please give them away.
I love you guys! I am truly glad we did not have to say “bye”.
Find me on ‘Twitter’: @PeterMorganWPS