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The Auburn Game And What The Future Might Hold
In the history of Razorback football, I wonder if (2-4) has ever felt as good as it feels this Sunday? We were staring down the barrel of (1-5) Saturday at Auburn, but for a nice change this season, the Hogs didn't have bad plays snowball on them like with the Alabama and Texas A&M games, but kept their composure and will to fight and got a badly needed win on the road in the SEC, no small thing, even if it was against one of the worse Auburn teams we've ever seen. I recall that in 2008 when Bobby Petrino was transitioning the Hogs into his type of team, we also picked up a badly needed win on the plains. And now that we are in a transition of another type, like bookends, we get another win at Auburn. Nice to know that when we are in need, we can count on the Tigers.
The big question at the moment amongst the Razorback faithful is will the events of this Saturday be just a day of Indian Summer or part of a larger trend? With the shaky prospect of a bowl bid still out there, will our players use this win to springboard them to wins over Kentucky, Ole Miss, and Tulsa, a three game home stand, before going on the road to Columbia and Starkville? If the Hogs can take care of business at home, we are then at (5-4) and needing one win out of the last three games.
After seeing the way the Gamecocks played last night against Georgia and that electric home crowd, I hope and pray the Hogs draw a day game in Columbia. And Tyler Wilson's nightmares of USC's qb headhunter, Clowny, have probably already begun. We've hardly ever found wins in Starkville easy to come by, and Miss. State is on a roll this year. Assuming the home games go our way, which is no small assumption, it could come down to the LSU game in Fayetteville (that is so odd to write) to decide if the Hogs get that trip to Shreveport or Birmingham.
And if it comes down to a Hog team playing for a bowl bid against an LSU team that has already had their dreams of a return to Atlanta snuffed out (a real possibility if they continue to play like they did against Florida), call me crazy, but I can see the Hogs getting a sixth win vs. another group of Tigers.
All of which is a major downgrade, I know, from what we thought the season would be. But our Hogs could still make some Razorback history if they were to make it to a bowl game and win it. We've never won back to back bowl games in following years. And for a man who could just as well be wearing a sackcloth and sitting in ashes on our sidelines, John L. Smith could use an upgrade from his lowly 1-6 bowl record.
Thinking especially of the seniors who would get one more game and those extra practices for the underclassmen, I hope the Hogs can somehow get that sixth win, but if that sixth win doesn't arrive, trying to scrap the barrel for a positive, one good thing about it to keep in mind is that the transition to a new head coach and coaching staff could get underway quicker if there is no bowl game to prepare for. And despite the feel good of a win, I am still excited about seeing these coaches pack their bags and go.
A Few Observations From The Game Itself:
* Coaches, Dennis Johnson, Dennis Johnson, Coaches. I am so happy that they've all finally met one another!
* It was sad seeing Knile Davis sitting on the bench over there. Though I think that is where he needed to be for this game, I hope he can cure his fumbling and get back to something resembling his old self.
* If you had bet me that the Hogs would beat Auburn and do it without a single touchdown pass from Wilson, I think I would have taken that bet AND LOST.
* How refreshing was it to see Hog defenders sacking quarterbacks? I enjoyed each sack immensely.
* For me, the stat of the game on the Hogs's side is that they managed to run the ball to the tune of 130 yards. We weren't all Wilson to Hamilton, but could do other things. On the Auburn side, the stat of the game is obviously the five turnovers that they committed.
* Some negatives, I didn't like how we ran things just before the half, which if you recall was a trait of the Bobby Petrino era as well. I didn't want to see us leave Auburn any time on the clock before halftime, but we did end up leaving them with 38 seconds that thankfully they didn't do any damage with. I hope Hocker missing field goals doesn't become a trend. He missed two out of three. And muffing punts, I don't want to see anymore of that either.
* But we won, so let's end on two positives, right? First, this win assures that Tyler Wilson will leave the UofA as an above .500 quarterback. I think it would have been pitiful for a quarterback as good as he is to have left here with a losing record. And, finally, I just want to say how happy I was for Brandon Mitchell and the beauty of a touchdown pass he threw right when the Hogs needed to counter Auburn's punch with one of their own. I think Brandon has been a great team player, and it always thrills me to see something good happen on the field in connection to him. Was that pass further evidence that if we had had him on the field against ULM, we would have won that game? I think so.