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PETE’S PICKS: Hating Texas leads to win for Hogs as rivalry renewed

Arkansas’ emotion, confidence for KJ Jefferson and Barry Odom’s defense are the keys to a narrow win.

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Photo by Arkansas Communications

Well, well, well … guess who is coming to dinner? It’s our old buddies from the Southwestern Conference; those yellow rose wearing Texas Longhorns.

The rumor is for Saturday’s game in Fayetteville, there will be at least a few of those pretentious, arrogant, “Who is their fashion designer?” orange-clad visitors from the south.

Arkansas fans, I’m speaking directly at you now, please try your best to be nice. I’m holding my breath.

I do not feel there is a strong level of comfort in this game for anyone who cheers for the Razorbacks. Why? The question still remains: how good is this Arkansas team?

Yes, we did play better in the second half against Rice, and yes, we did win the game by three touchdowns, yet many of us still possess varying doubts. I will be positive though. I must.

Based upon pre-season hype, several people (and not just fans of the Hogs) expected this to be a ‘W’ on the Razorback schedule for 2021. Perhaps that sum had evolved because consensus was Texas has been struggling as of late mixed in with their hiring of a new coach in Steve Sarkisian. Add into the equation the Arkansas program appears to be on an upward trajectory under second-year coach Sam Pittman.

Whatever the previous reasoning, new thoughts have the Longhorns as a national contender. For the record, I’m not insinuating they are drawing a bead on the BCS. No, I am still sober, yet, for the sake of full disclosure, check with me again late Saturday pending the outcome of the game.

For some logic, those behind the polls see Texas as better than originally projected. The burnt orange made a surprise appearance in the Top 25 to start the season, and now, after a win over then-ranked Louisiana, Texas is ranked as high as No.15 in most major polls.

[No, not that Louisiana team, the Rajin’ Cajuns … Yes, yes, the team from Lafayette.]

So the question becomes: how can a recently suffering Razorback program upset their future SEC brother?

[Writer’s note: it seems weird knowing Texas is joining the SEC. I’d compare it to divorcing your spouse, getting married to a wonderful and lovely person, and then your ex later slithers their way into your new family.]

Texas fans, always known (at least) around the south for being pretentious and arrogant seem to take pride in saying they do not see Arkansas as a rivalry game. Arkansas fans, on the other hand, have no shame in declaring their hate for the team from Austin.

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“It’s just another game,” ‘T’ cap wearing keyboard hacks seem to relish in declaring. Their flippant attitude almost ires the blood to a boil beneath the skin of Razorback fans; however, rest easy, because I know firsthand from friends and family in the uterus state there are countless Texas fans who, within the confines of their own steakhouse, will admit Arkansas is a school they do not like and desperately want to beat.

Why Arkansas will win:

Arkansas will have to be pumped. Due to their young age, I’m not certain if any of the Razorback players possess any sort of hatred or disdain for Texas. I honestly believe their extreme pride in themselves and their football program alone motivates them in this game. A readiness to show they can compete with and conquer anybody on the national stage.

KJ has confidence. Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson stepped up and stepped through the Owls defenders for several rushing yards and two scores. Texas’s defense will not be so porous, therefore Jefferson will have to rely upon and find confidence and accuracy within his arm.

Barry Odom’s defense. The Arkansas defense looked better in the second half against Rice, yet we all know the Texas offense is tremendously better than the Owls. If we have a takeaway from 2020, it is Odom can scheme his defense and get them ready for big games.

Why Texas will win:

The Longhorns seem to have some momentum coming out of their first game. Like Arkansas’s aforementioned victory over its former SWC foe, I’m not sold on Texas’s 20-point triumph against the Ragin’ Cajuns. The Horns did not look flawless. First game jitters? Not as solid as some might think? Hopefully the latter.

Bijan Robinson. The Texas running back has drawn the attention of a lot of sports fans and writers. Let’s be honest, he’s rightfully been compared to Reggie Bush and can cut more quickly and accurately than an X-acto knife. Arkansas will have a tough task stopping him (and thus Texas) if the defense cannot close the gaps and narrow the field.

Hudson Card. The Horns’ redshirt freshman quarterback is already being tabbed by some as the best quarterback in the Big 12. I don’t know, do you? I have not seen him play that much. My guess is you have not seen him take the field for more than a couple of quarters. Pretty much no one outside of George Strait’s home state can testify if Card is as good as advertised. A life sentence for perjury, though, if they tell us wrong.

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Final Thoughts:

I am anxious to see how Rocket Sanders will perform this weekend. I feel he is already drawing near his explosive moment.

If anyone is tempted to take into Donald W Reynolds Razorback Stadium a sign that says “Bevo, it’s what’s for dinner”, please, please reconsider. “Napoleon Dynamite” was funny the first or second time we watched it. There’s no reason to put it back on the playlist.

If you are in attendance Saturday, be loud and be proud. Don’t give up; don’t back down.  Robinson himself stated he was nervous playing in front of a packed stadium at Texas last week, so let’s be a good host by showing him what an obnoxiously loud and intimidating 80,000 strong group of Razorbacks sounds like.

Arkansas will come out hot, riding a tidal wave of emotion. The second quarter will prove to be a struggle. After adjustments by both teams, the second half will burden back-and-forth with one team leaving DWRRS on a beautiful Fayetteville evening victorious by a nerve-wracking three points.

Arkansas 30 – 27.

Be certain to listen to the game Saturday at 6 p.m. via HitThatLine.com and on the air at ESPN Arkansas 95.3 in the River Valley, 99.5 in Fayetteville, 96.3 in Hot Springs, and 104.3 in Harrison-Mountain Home.

SEC Picks for Week 1

Week 2 in the HTL Cup Chase has Andy slightly ahead. Today’s overly confident bragging is the precursor for tomorrow’s loathsome failure.

 Alabama State at (25) Auburn: Surprisingly, it only took one week and one overrated team’s loss to move Auburn into the Top 25. They’ll stay there for at least one more week. Tigers by 20.

South Carolina at East Carolina: Remember not too many years ago when East Carolina was a scary opponent for almost any opponent? Just curious. West Carolina is saying, “I got next!” Gamecocks by 17.

Pittsburgh at Tennessee: Yee-haw! Seriously, that’s all I can say. Vols by 27.

 (13) Florida at South Florida: I must have missed this contract signing. Was it when South Florida was mildly decent? Gators by 30.

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Alabama-Birmingham at (2) Georgia: It was not fancy, but the Bulldogs put a slow ‘L’ onto the starting gate for Clemson. The fans in Athens will not have nearly the stress this week. Georgia by an easy 32.

(5) Texas A&M at Colorado: Did not both these teams at one point declare mutiny against the Texas Longhorns? Aggies by 30.

Mercer at (1) Alabama: May Nick Saban have mercer on their souls. Tide by 60.

(15) Texas at Arkansas – GAME OF THE WEEK: It is rare I give Arkansas “Game of the Week” status, but with the crew of SEC Nation being in Fayetteville, who am I to not declare the same with my like honor? Hogs by 3.

North Carolina State at Mississippi State: Only Mel Gibson would need a better comeback than the Bulldogs had this past Saturday against Louisiana Tech. MSU will have their stuff together this weekend, unless that really was not overconfidence we witnessed for three quarters. Mississippi State by 14.

Austin Peay at (20) Ole Miss: Who knew Austin Peay was in Tennessee? Kidding. Who outside their enrollment department knows how to pronounce ‘Peay’? Seriously not kidding. Rebels by 40.

Missouri at Kentucky: Already a decent conference match-up for which to look forward. Some speculate Kentucky may actually contend for the Eastern Conference Title this year. Interesting. They are at home, hence they get a slight advantage. Cats by 10.

McNeese State at LSU: Better have your vaccination cards at the ready if you want to enter Death Valley. Kind of ironic with the whole name thing, huh? On top of that, Max and Jalen won’t be the only Johnson & Johnson on the field this Saturday. Last weekend LSU dropped one on the road at UCLA, but the Tigers were going through a lot at the time, and since that’s an excusable cliche in this day and age we will give them a pass. They will fare better in the Pfizer Bowl this week. Tigers by 34.

Vanderbilt at Colorado State: I overestimated the Commodores last week. I will eventually do it again but not this time. No fake punts, yet this one is still not an SEC victory. Rams by 16.

Texas fans know they hate us like moderates hate political social media.

Horns down. Tusks up!

Find me on ‘Twitter’: @PeterMorganWPS

Go HOGS!!!

 

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