Tusk to Tail: A few ideas for Liberty Bowl travelers

Razorback football was a real rollercoaster this year. The team had flashes of greatness, and even looked unbeatable at times, but there was just no consistency. The defense was really playing well down the stretch with the squad they cobbled together.

Strangely, it was just the offense we couldn’t count on from week to week. The Hogs lacked a physical running game when it was needed most. There was also some questionable play calling when you consider we had one of the best running backs in the country in Rocket Sanders and a QB that had no business trying to run sneaks after the A&M game.

However, it was not all doom and gloom. Arkansas (6-6) is playing a 6-6 Kansas Jayhawk team in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl at 4 p.m., Dec. 28 in Memphis. Tusk to Tail has one of our own with a kid on campus in Lawrence this year, so we paid more attention than usual to how this Kansas squad was doing.

With a solid coach on campus, the Jayhawks started out 5-0 before TCU came to town. From there on out, they won one more game. They have some talent and I’m guessing they will be highly motivated to beat an SEC team to finish off the season. I have not seen how many of their current players hit the portal but we do know we have lost several key Hog players.

We have not finalized our plans on how many are going to this game just yet. Most are holding off to keep an eye on the weather.  None of us are looking forward to another Frost Bowl like when Bobby Petrino led his first Arkansas team against East Carolina in January, 2010. Despite the frigid weather, there were over 62,000 in attendance that night, and most of us have never been so cold.

The Liberty Bowl stadium is a bit long in the tooth, but I hear they have some improvements planned in the near future. One bright spot is that it is flat around the stadium, and there is plenty of parking for reasonable prices. UCF and Duke play at 1 p.m. that day in the Military Bowl, so there will be something to watch if you choose to tailgate. The Hogs’ basketball team opens up conference play that night on the road in Baton Rouge at 8 p.m.

If you do plan to head over, I thought I’d throw out some spots you might consider to get your barbecue fix. Central BBQ and the Rendezvous are two of our favorites, but you can’t go wrong with The Bar-B-Q Shop, Interstate BBQ, German Town Commissary, Cozy Corner, A&R BBQ, or Payne’s.

Following are other places to consider eating, in no particular order.
• Gibson’s Donuts is so tasty, and I hear Howard’s Donuts is good too.
• Gus’s Fried Chicken started in Memphis, and has been a longtime favorite of Tusk to Tail.
• Hattie B’s Hot Chicken is a Nashville favorite with a Memphis location.
• If you enjoy Delta tamales, give Pop’s Hot Tamales a try.
• For some good soul food, you could go to Soul Fish Café, Mr. Frazier’s, D&L Catfish Shack or the Suga Shack.
• Memphis Pizza Café, Hog and Hominy Pizza, and Elwood’s Pizza Shack will never let you down.
• Huey’s has great burgers at a reasonable price, and has multiple locations throughout town.
• Owen Brennan’s serves excellent Cajun and creole cuisine. You could also try The Second Line for a nice dinner. I hear the catfish is amazing.
• Try Porch and Parlor Prime Steakhouse or the Capital Grill for a steak. Char Memphis and Folks Folly Prime Steak House are also really good.
• Lastly, some nicer fine dining spots include Chez Philippe, The Wine Cellar, Coastal Fish Company, Flight Rest. And Wine Bar, Napa Café, Edge Alley, Amigo Memphis and Southern Social, Michael’s Italian Kitchen, or Blue Fin Sushi.

If you are into bourbon or craft beer, there are more than a few spots that are worth a stop. I recommend Old Dominick Distilling, Ghost River Brewing, and Wiseacre for good local beer.

If you need to kill some time, I highly recommend a stop at the National Civil Rights Museum. It will move you. Of course, Graceland is a fun stop, but the prices have really gotten out of hand in my opinion. Sun Studio wouldn’t be a bad little stop. It’s not a going to eat up a lot of time, but it’s a neat spot for Memphis culture.

You also might consider taking in a Memphis Grizzlies’ Game. On the night of the 27th, the Phoenix Suns are in town. If it’s not too cold, you could get a walk down Beale Street after that game.

I wish a Merry Christmas for everyone, safe travels, a Hog’s win, and a Happy New Year.

Go Hogs, Beat Jayhawks!

Editor’s note: Now in its 11th year, Tusk to Tail is the sport of tailgating as organized, performed and perfected by a group of Hog fans who have been tailgating together sober and otherwise for more than a decade. The primary focus of Tusk to Tail will be to follow the Hogs through the fans’ perspective with their insightful, irreverent, smart-alecky and sometimes practical style. The diehards may also be followed on their Facebook page. Or follow the crew on Twitter and Instagram, all @TuskToTail.

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