There were questions about the beatdown the SEC administrered to the Big Ten in three Jan. 1 bowl games. The SEC won, 138-45. There were also two more Big Ten losses to non-SEC teams, including a competitive battle between Big Ten co-champ Wisconsin and TCU. Ohio State lost only to the Badgers this season.
"I didn't watch any games," Petrino said. "After practice we watched video and worked on the finishing touches of the game plan. We don't put a lot into (the other bowl results).
Petrino was asked if he felt Arkansas had to uphold its part in the SEC versus Big Ten matchup as the Sugar Bowl approaches?
"I don't feel that way," he said. "But we root for the SEC. Really, there are just so many other things in life to focus on with our coaches and players."
Safety Elton Ford took the same type of questions when players came to the interviews. His answers were similar.
"We didn't watch those games," Ford said. "We were focused on what we have to do in practice and against the team we play. Those games don't mean anything to us as far as our preparations.
"What we know is that we are playing an outstanding Ohio State team. That's all we are focused on, what they do and how they play. They do everything well.
"Our game is one game all by itself. Nothing else that happens has a bearing on this game. To be honest, I'm sure that's how Ohio State looks on it, too. We are playing Ohio State and Ohio State is playing Arkansas. We have to focus on what they bring and they will be good."
Freshman defensive tackle Byran Jones was oblivious to the happenings of the other bowls.
"Didn't watch none of them," he said. "We are practicing, doing our studies and then I'm getting rest. If we don't have something to do, then I'm sleeping.
"I'm not surprised to hear that other guys didn't watch those games and I'm sure not surprised that our coach didn't watch them. He's all about getting work out of us. I'm pretty sure he's focused on us and not any other games."
Jones played high school football at Junction City, Ark., but his house was just south of the Arkansas border in a little community in Louisiana. That's about five hours from New Orleans. He'd never been to the Big Easy before the Sugar Bowl trip, but didn't seem too interested in anything but football.
"My mom can cook all this food," he said. "I've had it before. So it was nothing new to me. As far as looking around, not interested in that. I'm focused on one thing, playing football. I'm working hard to get into what we are doing, learn as much about Ohio State as I can before we play the game.
"This is a trip about winning a football game. Nothing else besides winning this game matters.
"I know some people probably look forward to coming here to do some things in this town, but we know why we came here, to win a game. We want to play well for our seniors and know this is a big game."
You sense from the Ohio State media covering the Sugar Bowl that they came to New Orleans believing there was no SEC superiority, but doubt jumped in on Saturday. Those Ohio writers and broadcasters watched on three big screens set up in the media work room as Alabama, Florida and Mississippi State took control early. They cheered some as Big Ten teams made plays, but had long faces by the end of the day.
There was a big screen in the media hospitality room as Wisconsin and TCU squared off in the Rose Bowl. The Ohio State scribes actually cheered when the Badgers took the lead early. One media member sang "On Wisconsin!" after a touchdown. Another predicted a stiff arm when a Wisconsin back broke a long run.
However, there were long faces when TCU countered with a touchdown pass and ultimately hung on with a deflected pass on a potential tying two-point play. They were obviously not mentally prepared for an 0-5 bowl result on the day.
And they didn't want to talk about Ohio State's 0-9 record against the SEC in postseason play. They wanted to dismiss it as trivial stats. Pretty much, Arkansas players did the same thing Saturday when those numbers were trotted out again, sometimes by Ohio State media.
"I don't see any of that as meaningful," said Jerry Franklin, Arkansas linebacker. "You are talking about different teams. This year's Ohio State team is different than last year's team. We are different than those other SEC teams they played. It means nothing. It's just stats. We don't pay any attention to that. We know there's nothing other than getting ready for this game that means anything."
Some might say the numbers don't lie. Some might say each game stands on its own merit.
It will be Ryan Mallett against Terrelle Pryor on Tuesday night. But there will be Big Ten ghosts with oh-for numbers hanging over the Buckeyes when they take the field in the Superdome.
Right now, the Buckeyes might rather discuss the five suspended players than their SEC record -- not after their Big Ten brothers stumbled again Saturday.
Sunday Practice Notes
Arkansas worked for 90 minutes at Tulane Stadium for their last full session before Tuesday night's Sugar Bowl. Bobby Petrino said the Hogs were full speed and healthy.
"We've had five practices down here and the last three have been like a normal game week," Petrino said. "We are healthy and now we can't ready for the game to get here.
"The guys are excited to play well. What we did today was like a normal Thursday practice in game week, where we try to have a perfect Thursday. It was our last perfect Thursday of the year."
Petrino said you always worry most about how a month layoff will effect a bowl performance. Will the team have any rust?
"We've thrown it and caught it pretty well down here," he said. "You still are concerned with that part of a bowl game, how you will come back. We've done what we can. It looks like we are practicing well. We have practiced fast."
Players say they are full speed. Strong safeties Elton Ford and Rudell Crim have both had dings and nicks over the last two months, Crim in the regular season and Ford in bowl practices. Both are full speed.
"We are doing good," Crim said. "We are ready to play. I was (beat up) at the close of the season and now I feel good. That's the good part of the bowl layoff for us, to get healthy. We are healthy. My teammates have kept me into it and kept me pumped up when I was (injured), and now I'm ready."
Both Ford and Crim know the physical nature of the Ohio State offense will be on their shoulders as strong safeties playing in the box.
"I'm sure they are going to come at us," Ford said. "That's the challenge you like, when a team runs right at you. I think their plan is always to see if you can stop those big running backs first, then they have other things like the passing game and the run by the quarterback. But you have to stop those backs first."
Crim said, "I'm sure our plan will be to put (the safeties) in the box some, but not all the time. You change it up. You mix it up. Ohio State will make us come down in the box and then they are going to use their play-action. You can't just focus on the run, though. They are going to run their routes and pass it, too. So it comes down to keys and playing them right. We have to play our keys and know our schemes."