Tusk to Tail 2014: Let slip the Hogs of war, and begin the Tiger hate on Friday

Let’s be honest. Since Arkansas joined the SEC back in 1992, we have not had a true “hate” rival. LSU and “The Boot” were forced upon us by David Bazzel. And a rivalry has to go both ways. LSU has never considered us a true rival.

If Ole Miss didn’t have Mississippi State, I think that would have been our best bet. But now with the addition of Missouri to the conference, and this game being moved to the last weekend of the year, I think we have it. The campuses are only 300 miles apart, making Mizzou our closest SEC neighbor.

For me, the hate is already there. It started back in the late 80’s and early 90’s when the Razorbacks and Tigers were both top 15 powers in basketball. Norm Stewart brought his fourth-ranked Tigers in to Barnhill to face Nolan’s 7th-ranked Hogs. I was a student then, and we got into Barnhill at 7 a.m. to claim our seats in the student section. There was already a line from the night before, and we got 4th row seats.

The day of the game most students would skip class or have a buddy hold your seat. Most of us chose the skip selection. Norm walked in a few hours before tip and walked over to the student section, who was nationally known as one of the loudest and rowdiest in the country. He smiled, took out a pack of gum, and proceeded to throw sticks of gum up to us, saying, “Why don’t you chew on this instead of my ass all night?”

Then they beat us 89-88. That’s where my hate began.

The Hogs didn’t lose very often back then in Barnhill. Arkansas proceeded to go 8-1 against the Tigers for the rest of the 90’s, including the legendary 120-68 nationally televised whooping in the Bud Walton Arena dedication game. It was Missouri’s worst loss in school history. Mizzou chose not to renew the series after 1997. I wonder why?

The series began again in 2004 and the Hogs beat them in their arena dedication, 62-52. The teams split the series 4-4 in the 2000‘s.

Now, enough basketball. Let’s talk football. The Hogs and Tigers have met a total of five times since 1906. Missouri leads the series 3-2.

Where the football hate for me really began was after the 2008 Cotton Bowl debacle. The Hogs lost 38-7 with DMAC, Felix Jones, and Peyton Hillis in the backfield. Mizzou fans came out of the woodwork in Northwest Arkansas and Southwest Missouri, acting like they had won the national championship.

The Hogs had just beaten No. 1 LSU 50-48 in three overtimes a month before. Then we canned Houston Dale Nutt and named Reggie Herring interim head coach for the bowl game. The Hogs had no sense of direction, and by all accounts, no respect for a lame duck interim coach. The night before the game, we saw half the team partying out in Dallas at 3:30 in the morning.

Mizzou fans thought they had beaten the same team that beat No. 1 LSU a month earlier. They didn’t. That team didn’t show up.

Tiger fans still talk about it to this day and how they are a superior program to Arkansas. Let’s see … they haven’t won a Big 12 title since 1969. They have won one division title. They haven’t been to a BCS game.

The Hogs have no SEC titles, but last won the SWC title in 1988 and 1989. Division championships? The Hogs have three in the toughest conference and division in America. Check. BCS game? Check. Mizzou fans even seem to have amnesia on the Razorbacks 27-14 Independence Bowl victory over them just five years before.

Missouri has had success in its first few years in some down years in the SEC Least, I mean East, which we haven’t seen in our 22 years in the league until recently. Good timing. Now the Tigers are one win away from being in the SEC championship game again after beating the likes of Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Florida, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

They haven’t had to play Alabama, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Auburn, or LSU, who were all ranked when facing the Hogs. The one top-25 team Missouri played was Georgia, and they got rolled 34-0. Georgia ran all over them. Let’s hope the Hogs can do the same.

The Hogs are coming off two of the most impressive back-to-back wins in school history over LSU and Ole Miss. They became the first unranked team in the modern era to shut out ranked teams in consecutive weeks. And the defense is playing out of its mind. The Razorbacks are 6-5 and going bowling. They look to get seven wins and maybe go a notch up in the bowl pickings and jump into the top 25.

So here we are three days before this series starts. The game has been named The “Battle Line Rivalry,” which I think a UA intern must have coined. Might as well have been “The Hillbilly Brawl.” Someone suggested “Battle of the Ozarks” which I really liked.

A true rivalry will be born Friday. A border war starts Friday. The hate starts Friday. Tusk to Tail will be 25 strong on Friday. Cars begin heading out from Fayetteville and Little Rock at 3:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

We will find a nice place on the Mizzou campus Friday morning, pick up some chicken biscuits and nuggets for eats, and of course have plenty to drink on hand. Happy Thanksgiving from Tusk to Tail in Columbia.

Go Hogs! Beat Tigers!