I know some of you may have been expecting Mike the Redneck to weigh in on tomorrow’s Alabama-Arkansas match-up. Sorry to disappoint, but he went to the dentist yesterday (he actually still has two teeth left) and got one of those numbing shots and just isn’t able to talk very well right now. Nevertheless, he sends his “REE-guards.”
I spent four years of my life dwelling in The Natural State and have more readers there than in any other state besides Alabama. I hold no grudge against the Hogs. In fact, I rather like the Razorback Nation.
Why, you ask? It’s really very simple. You see, just when we thought we might buckle under the scrutiny and scorn of ESPN in the wake of Shula’s firing and the subsequent coaching search, along came the Razorback Nation with their own little soap opera– “As the Hawg Squeals.” Oh sure, our hopeless infatuation with The Bear borders on necrophilia, and we even hocked his statue in order to pay Saban, but you guys broke new ground.
Yes, we monitored flight plans, tracked flight paths, and staked out small, private airports all over the country, but you guys, oh my, you guys used the Freedom of Information Act to peer into Houston Nutt’s cell phone records. That’s so, so, very far out there. We doff our houndstooth fedoras to you. The Crimson Nation owes you all a debt that we will never be able to repay.
As to the game, we all remember what happened in Fayetteville last year. Alabama was poised to win, only to offer the game to the Hogs on a silver platter with the worse place-kicking meltdown in Crimson Tide history, one so bad that it even got Jesus’ attention. That game was a season-breaker for the Tide and was the start of an impressive run to Atlanta for the Hogs. I maintain to this day that had the Tide pulled that one out, and had Tyrone Prothro not suffered a career-ending injury the season before in that shellacking of the Gators, Mike Shula would still be the Head Coach at The Capstone.
But, in many ways, that day seems like ancient history. Alabama will lose this year–several times–but there is a strong feeling that there will be no more 4th quarter meltdowns, no more gift-wrapped games handed over to the opposing team in the closing minutes. No, if you beat Bama this year it will be because you outplayed them, fair and square. Shula was the “deer caught in the headlamps.” Saban is The Hunter.
These are two very closely-matched teams, and this one will be a close one, folks. We all know what Jones and DMac can do, and they’ll for sure get their licks in before the day is done. But they won’t run completely roughshod over a Tide defense anchored by senior corner Simeon Castille and true freshman middle linebacker Rolando McClain, a bona fide future All-American and NFL headhunter if there ever was one. Nor will the Hog secondary, which by all accounts was a leaky sieve against Troy, be riddled to bits by Tide QB John Parker Wilson who has yet to dial it in from long distance.
No, this one will be a relatively low-scoring affair, dominated by the dynamic duo from Arkansas and the artful dodging Bama tailback Terry Grant. In the end, it will come down to–and it pains me to say it–kicking. But the sports psychologists at Bama have been working overtime to rid Tiffin of that painful nightmare, and rumor has it that his Daddy and Granddaddy had him aligning those Allegros over at the plant in Red Bay this past summer just to drive home the point.
This time, late on Saturday night under the Tuscaloosa lights, with the heat on and surrounded by a undulating sea of Crimson, Tiffin comes through, just like his father before him.
Final Score: Bama 27, Arkansas 24.
Of course, it could just as easily go the other way. Just remember: You heard it hear first.
And a word to my expatriate Bama brethren languishing in The Natural State: Stay strong and be of good courage. Keep a low profile today, and let them do all the talking. Come Saturday night, be ready to make your move. Listen for the signal: The sound of a hawg squealing.
Roll Tide, Roll.