Tusk to Tail: Expectations are being dialed down to an 8-win season
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The Hogs are coming off a tough loss in Arlington, and have a tough stretch of games coming up. How do you see the rest of the season playing out?
Craig: Saturday against Texas A&M was frustrating, but hey, it’s nice to be playing meaningful football game. I wasn’t sure that was ever going to happen again a couple of years ago. Win or lose against Bama, there’s still a lot to play for this season. We should beat Auburn, Liberty and Missouri to get to six wins. Then it comes down to MSU, BYU, LSU and Ole Miss. My gut tells me we split those games to get to 8 wins. Not the 10 wins fans were hoping for, but respectable for a team that still trying to climb out of the Chad Morris hole.
Todd: This stretch could turn into three quick losses in a row, and maybe even four if they don’t bounce back in the right mindset from that heartbreaker. We face Bama this week, then on the road at State with one of the best QBs in the SEC in Will Rogers. He is licking his chops right now thinking about picking apart that Hog secondary. Bryce Young and Rogers back-to-back is scary. And if that isn’t enough, there is a second consecutive road game to take on BYU in Provo. I’m going with 8-4.
#2 Alabama @ #20 Arkansas
Craig: Arkansas has enough weapons to make this game interesting with one of the better ground games in the SEC and a QB who can stretch the field with his arm and legs. Alabama barely made it out of Austin with a win a few weeks ago, and has not been tested since beating up on ULM and Vandy. The Hogs have issues on both sides of the ball that need to be addressed. It’s hard to get right against a team like Bama. Alabama 38 Arkansas 24
Todd: I haven’t hurt that much over a loss since the Ohio State game in 2011. It feels great to really care again and to also be excited about our Hogs again. It wasn’t Cam Little’s fault on the “Oink doink.” It wasn’t the white helmet’s fault. It wasn’t KJ’s fault for thinking he could vault from the 3-yard line, nor the trick plays. It was a team loss, although a frustrating one. Now we have Bama and the 15-year losing streak coming to Razorback Stadium. If Arkansas can’t tackle and get Trey Knox involved more this week, they have no shot. The Hogs haven’t tackled well at all, especially the last two weeks. I do think our defensive line will get to Young some. Has Briles been holding back for this week? Will our run game be able to get going against All-Everything Will Anderson? Texas was able to hit big shots downfield against Bama, and KJ has the weapons to do the same if he gets the time. This must include Knox. I just can’t pick the Hogs to win after their performance last week against a mediocre Aggie football team. I do hope we shock the world, though. Tide 35-21
#7 Kentucky @ #14 Ole Miss
Craig: Kentucky is 4-0 on the season and QB Will Levis is one of the top prospects in the SEC. The Cats will get a boost from the return of running back Chris Rodriguez to the lineup for the first time this season. Last year he rushed for 1300 yards and 27 touchdowns. Ole Miss likes to run the ball and is ranked fourth nationally in rushing, averaging 280 yards a game. The Ole Miss defense is improved this season, but not enough to get the Rebels the win. Kentucky 28, Ole Miss 21
Todd: Which one of these teams is for real? Ole Miss has played a slate of nobodies in Troy, UCA, Georgia Tech, and Tulsa. They beat Tulsa by 8. Meanwhile, UK has jumped to #7 after a road win in Gainesville. They have started 4-0 without a running game, since their stud RB Chris Rodriguez was out due to suspension. Rodriguez is back this week. I think the Wildcats run all over this soft Ole Miss defense and their legit QB Will Levis does the rest. Ole Miss is a fraud. Big Blue Cats win 34-27
#9 Oklahoma State @ #16 Baylor
David: These teams split their two meetings last year, with Baylor holding on to win the Big 12 title game. Okie Light came up short despite 1st and goal at the 2-yard line in the final minutes. Had they won, the Cowboys would have likely earned the fourth spot in the College Football Playoffs over Cincinnati. Dave Aranda’s defense is always going to be stout, but Cowboys gunslinger Spencer Sanders will be chucking it all around the yard. I expect enough passes to connect for the Pokes to upset Baylor 31-30.
#17 Texas A&M @ Mississippi State
Craig: The Aggies’ offense is ranked last in the SEC. Expect a heavy dose of running back Devon Achane Saturday after the season ending injury to star WR Ainais Smith against the Hogs. MSU QB Will Rogers leads the SEC with 1,386 passing yards and 16 touchdowns. It’s not going to be pretty but expect the MSU defense to make stops late and get the win. Mississippi State 28, Texas A&M 24
Todd: This will be an ugly game. A&M, which has no offense against State, who has no run game. One thing A&M will have to do is win the time of possession to keep Will Rogers and his passing threat off the field. The Bulldogs just need to rattle Aggies QB Max Johnson, because he doesn’t have a lot of weapons since losing Ainais Smith last week to an injury. I think Mississippi State wins this ugly one in the air with the home field advantage. Dawgs 27-23
LSU @ Auburn
David: Historically, the Tiger Bowl has been one of the SEC’s most entertaining matchups. Probably not this year. LSU’s Bayou Bengals are still coming into their own while new head coach Brian Kelly puts his unique stamp on the program. Brian Harsin looks like a dead man walking on The Plains. Auburn has an excellent running back, a decent defense, and not much else. This game has taught us to expect almost anything, but I personally expect to see LSU run away with this one 30-13.
#10 North Carolina State @ #5 Clemson
David: NC State QB Devin Leary played out of his mind last year, throwing 4 TDs to upset the Tigers. The good news is that the Clemson secondary is susceptible to a similar performance. The bad news is that Hurricane Ian plans to attend this game, likely making it hard to pass over the top. Expect a low scoring slug fest with Clemson squeaking by 16-6.
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