Some of the following is fact and some of it is fabricated entirely… welcome to sports writing in 2017.
Tomorrow our beloved Frogs travel into the belly of the beast (pun intended) for their 70th test against our old Southwest Conference rival, the Arkansas Razorbacks. Winning in Fayetteville is no small undertaking. Some claim that it’s tougher than explaining plate tectonics to someone who lost fingers on the 4th of July, or wrestling a Velveeta-dipped-butter-pretzel-sausage away from an Ohio State fan, or presenting basic principles of human decency to Baylor Twitter. Sometimes these tasks end in defeat regardless of how prepared you were at the outset. This is what happened to the Frogs in double overtime last year.
Arkansas is a football enigma. They are the Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Opossumjaw of the SEC. On one weekend, they can demolish an LSU team with more Pro Bowlers than the NFL’s suspended list, only to faceplant the following week against Missouri or Rutgers. The erratic nature of the Hogs’ performance is precisely what makes them dangerous. Victory will require the creativity of Johnny Depp’s jeweler, the precision of the Korean national archery team, the courage of Kelly Clarkson’s personal shopper. A formible task indeed, but we’ll triumph for the following reasons:
EXPERIENCE: Numbers beyond 10 are largely ignored in Arkansas which is why they’ve never been particularly upset about having the nation’s 19th most relevant state BBQ after Texas, North Carolina, Tennessee and “who the **** cares”. This also explains why polydactyls are worshipped for their magical properties in “The Natural State”. I digress. The Razorbacks return 6 starters on offense having lost their starting RB, LT and much of their received corps. The starting defense also sees 6 back, though 3 of the top 4 tacklers from last season are gone.
The Frogs, on the other hand, return 17 starters and field nearly the same offense from last year. On the surface, the Frogs feature a few new names on the defensive line, but injuries that plagued the squad last year gave scores of back-ups valuable experience. I really like the matchup between Mat Boesen (2nd on the team in sacks LY – 6) and new ARK left tackle Colton Jackson. I’m betting that #9 builds a log cabin in the Hog’s backfield.
OUR HEAD COACH IS UNFATHOMABLY BETTER THAN THEIRS: Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema (who looks like a pair of Zubaz pants came to life) has somehow fashioned a career out of success against Big Ten [spits on floor]doormats and disappearing in big games like Chinese food at Eddie Lacy’s house. Arkansas was desperate to halt a turnover rate in their head coaching staff that made the current White House look like Harvard faculty, and turned to Bielema (who has a photo realistic tattoo of former Night Ranger bassist Jack Blades on his lower back) in December of 2012. The reason why Coach Bret wanted to trade the dog park that is two-thirds of the annual Big Ten [spits on floor]schedule for an annual struggle to land a spot in a mid-December bowl game escapes me and I won’t speculate. His offense is as diverse as Bob Ross’ portfolio and he likes to talk trash, so beating him is great fun. I was sanguine when leaving the Carter after last year’s loss but was giddy while watching Auburn pole-axe them by 53 and later in the season.
Coach Patterson’s accomplishments are well cataloged, including one against Bielema and the hated Wisconsin Badgers in the Rose Bowl.
INTAGIBLES AND THE CRUEL IRONY OF TALENT EVALUATION: The Horned Frogs field a trio of players (Turpin, White & Snell) at skill positions who are, in my opinion, the perfect embodiment of TCU football. I’m sure they were completely ignored by teams like Arkansas for a perceived lack of “measurables” and I couldn’t be happier. Frogs fans have the good fortune to see these gentlemen, among many others on the roster, routinely issue throat punches on the field to 4 and 5-star recruits at Texas, Oregon [giggles], and the like. Are they secretly one X-Man with the power to multiply and defy the laws of physics? I’ve never seen the three of them and Ross Blacklock in the same photo, so… maybe. I just can’t wait to see what they do next.
FURY TOAD’S PSA ON TRAVELLING TO ARKANSAS – One of my household traditions includes a bi-annual trip to Rudy Ray Moore’s birthplace in Fort Smith, so I felt compelled to offer guidance to fellow alums who might be making the trip to Fayetteville. For the uninitiated, Arkansas is a place where mail-order certificates qualify one for expert court testimony (please see “The West Memphis Three”) and where being invited to John Daly’s third wedding automatically qualifies you for lifetime discounted cover at any middle-of-the-road gentleman’s club in the state. Now I’m no stranger to funerals which involve live-chicken sacrifice, bourbon & shotguns so I’m definitely at home in Arkansas, finding its citizens to be warm and generous hosts. I would recommend bringing a few boxes of #6 12-gauge shells and a can of carb cleaner in the event that circumstance demands parlay with the locals.