Another Bowl Season Kicks Off Tonight

FAYETTEVILLE -Meant to get to this a few days back, but some serious doctors and the old colon had other ideas.

Things gleaned: "Upper GI" seems to be the perfect nickname for that drill sergeant back in El Paso and "colonoscopy" is the perfect term for a certain ex-girlfriend.

Comfortably numb is a fine thing.

That said, let's take a look at this Arkansas football season. Many of you will think I need to check back in.

Or out.

Beginning with tonight's somewhat hard-fought, campaign-opening victory against New Mexico State here in Razorback Stadium, Arkansas will win six - no, seven -games this season, taking Hogs coach Houston Nutt to his seventh bowl game in seven seasons.

OK, call me Homer or one of those Nutts. Been called worse.

Most folks who bend elbows while flapping jaws figure six wins would be incredible for a team barely old enough to host a kegger. Seven is just too hard to swallow.

Well, let's digest the schedule, the one UA folks say is the toughest in history, starting tonight.

As has been well-noted, New Mexico State hung with the Hogs a bit last season, keeping it close for a half. Quarterback Ryan Sorahan started that game for Arkansas, but Matt Jones finished it, trotting for three TDs and tossing another. Yeah, many of the Aggies are back, but they went 2-5 in the rinky Sun Belt Conference last season while winning only three games (vs. Western New Mexico, Lousiana-Monroe and Utah State). DeCori Birmingham grinds out 200 yards and the young Hogs get plenty of action ... ARKANSAS 30-13.

No way Arkansas could hang with Texas last season, especially in Austin. You know you said it. Of course, the Hogs did that and more, the 38-28 upset more dominating than stunning. Nutt goes for his third straight win against Mack Brown's program and might just get it, especially in Fayetteville. However, Arkansas won't be strong enough to push the surprisingly motivated Longhorns around this time. Jones and some uncanny plays keep it close, but ... TEXAS 27-24.

Louisiana-Monroe is really good. The Indians played within 38 points of Idaho last season. Welcome to Little Rock ... ARKANSAS 52-10.

Mike Shula is no Don and Alabama is not the Bear that once dominated the SEC. The Crimson Tide won just four games last season, but played most teams (including Arkansas in a 34-31 two-OT loss) close. Alabama returns 13 starters and is bowl-eligible, but that doesn't matter. The Tide still is low ... ARKANSAS 30-20.

The first - and last -time Arkansas staggered into Florida's Swamp, Steve Spurrier and company gobbled up the Hogs 56-7. Spurrier's long gone, but the improving Gators, led by dandy quarterback Chris Leak, are back. Reality bites ... FLORIDA 33-24.

The two best rushing teams in the SEC collide down in Auburn for another grind-it-out affair. Last year, the Tigers were tabbed one of the country's best, but someone forgot to tell the offense. A terrible call nullified a Jones TD in last season's 10-3 loss. Nutt seems to own Auburn's Tommy Tuberville and the Hogs feel right at home at Jordan-Hare. This is the make or break one. The Hogs stack the line and stuff the Tigers. Jones does the rest ... ARKANSAS 21-17.

Georgia is ridiculous good, too good even in Fayetteville for the Hogs to hang with. As usual, coach Mark Richt calls the right shots and David Greene picks Arkansas' young secondary apart ... GEORGIA 31-16.

Lou Holtz is on the South Carolina hotseat and not even the luck of the Irish can get him off it. Doesn't matter who's calling the plays here. Last time out, arch-rival Clemson fried the Gamecocks 63-17 in Columbia. This time, Jones does ... ARKANSAS 34-13.

Michael Spurlock is no Eli Manning and the Rebels return just 10 starters from last season's 10-win team. At 5-3, the Hogs are sniffing bowl-eligibility, and by this point they aren't so young anymore. Jones to Marcus Monk several times vs. Ole Miss' green defense ... ARKANSAS 42-24.

Sylvester Croom has Mississippi State on the right track, but it will take several seasons to run with the big boys. Starkville is an ugly, scary place, but the Hogs survive a nasty one ... ARKANSAS 20-17.

Nutt is undefeated in his hometown of Little Rock and you remember well Jones-to-Birmingham-to-Atlanta the last time Arkansas hosted LSU. Should the loaded Tigers come in upset over blowing a chance at another national championship, the frenzied Hogs could keep it close. But don't expect another miracle on Markham ... LSU 41-24.

At 7-4, yep, 7-4, the Hogs head to the Independence Bowl to take on Nebraska. The strangely pass-happy Cornhuskers now run pro sets but Arkansas' surging front shucks much of that. Arkansas did the right thing in keeping Nutt ... ARKANSAS 27-14.

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