Tusk to Tail: Hogs look good, but a tough SEC schedule looms

Does the Razorbacks’ convincing win over Texas and new Top 20 ranking change your perception of this team? What are your expectations for the Hogs this season?

Craig May: Huge win for the Hogs last weekend, but my expectations haven’t changed for this team. I felt coming into the season if we beat Texas, we could get to six wins. If they can find a way to beat Texas A&M on Sept. 25, then I’ll adjust my expectations.

Todd Rudisill: I’m cautiously optimistic. It was no shocker that Texas was soft up front again and the Hogs were more physical. It has become a Longhorn tradition in quite a few of these matchups over the years. How the Hogs respond this week and especially next week against the Aggies will tell us much more. It doesn’t change the fact the schedule is still the same tough schedule, ranked toughest in the country. I’m sticking with my 7-6 right now, but the potential is certainly there to win one of those conference games you aren’t supposed to win. II think that alone is why Hog fans should be excited about the rest of the season.

David Rice: Few outside of the Arkansas locker room could have expected such a thorough stomping of the Longhorns. That won’t make consecutive road games against #7 Texas A&M, #2 Georgia, and #17 Ole Miss any easier. Let’s see how the Hogs fare in those games and their return to Fayetteville to host # 22 Auburn before we start planning any parades. Regardless, you have to love the direction Sam Pittman has the Razorbacks going.

Georgia Southern @ #20 Arkansas
Craig May: The Hogs can’t afford to overlook Georgia Southern this weekend. Arkansas ran for 245 yards against Rice and 333 yards against Texas. The passing game has been hit or miss. Arkansas needs to be more consistent to beat a team like Texas A&M. Look for the Hogs to work on that this weekend. Arkansas 42, Georgia Southern 10.

Todd Rudisill: The Hogs made their statement, now this week is the definition of a trap game. The Hogs are coming off an emotional win over a hated rival. In two weeks, they go up against a top-10 Texas A&M team that owns them with a 9-game winning streak. Sandwiched right in between is a triple option team in Georgia Southern. What we know is the Arkansas running game works and works well. There won’t be a better time to test the passing game than this week with a mix of run. If anyone can get a defense ready for the option, it’s Barry Freaking Odom. The Eagles are without their stud quarterback from last year and will struggle. Pittman and Odom will have the Hogs ready, and the state will be primed to end the losing streak against the Aggies next week. Your 20th ranked Razorbacks roll 37-10.

Mississippi State @ Memphis
Craig May: Mississippi State comes into the game with Memphis 2-0 but had to come from behind in week one to beat Louisiana Tech 35-34. Memphis is 2-0 but struggling on defense, giving up 582 yards to Arkansas State last weekend. Memphis QB Seth Henigan is fun to watch and has kept the Tigers’ big play offense moving this season. Memphis 28, Mississippi State 24.

#19 Arizona State @ #23 BYU
David Rice: What if BYU’s quarterback had served a Mormon mission before college and then took advantage of the NCAA’s sixth year of Supersenior eligibility? You could have a nearly-30 year old leading a team of fresh faced college kids. That didn’t happen but it would probably make a great movie. Instead, the only old guy is Herm “You play to win the game” Edwards coaching the Sun Devils. BYU is getting 3.5 points, but could win outright. Take the Cougs in a close one, 30-28.

Tulane @ #17 Ole Miss
David Rice: Does Ole Miss actually have a defense this year? Combined with their high octane offense, the Rebel Bear Sharks could be a tough out if they continue playing good D. Tulane put a real scare into Oklahoma in Week 1, and can score points in bunches. Look for a back door cover by the Green Wave, but Ole Miss wins 48-35.

#22 Auburn @ #10 Penn State
Todd Rudisill: Tiger fans have been talking national title after spanking powerhouse programs Akron and Alabama State. Reality sets in this week as they travel to Happy Valley to play a real opponent in the Nittany Lions. Bo Nix looks like he can breathe and think again without the offensive genius Chad Morris in his ear, completing 75% of his passes so far. Auburn’s defense looks like a typical Auburn defense, which is damn good. The Penn State defense has been tough as well. I think the crowd and the Nittany Lion offense do just enough. Penn State wins 31-24.

David Rice: It’s hard to tell much from Auburn’s first two wins, but the Tigers seem to be rolling. Happy Valley is going to be absolutely bonkers for this nighttime kickoff. Fans have declared a “whiteout” in Beaver Stadium, and the Nittany Lions are anxious to prove they can hang with the SEC. I’ll believe it when I see it. Once again, I think the underdog could win outright. Put me down for 28-24 Auburn.

#1 Alabama @ #11 Florida
Craig May: Alabama takes on Florida Saturday in a rematch of last year’s SEC Championship Game. This will be the first road test for Alabama QB Bryce Young. The Tide are averaging 46 points per game and the run defense is already in championship form. Florida is looking for a statement win in the Swamp. The Gator running game is ranked second in the nation and should keep this game close. Alabama 35, Florida 28.

Todd Rudisill: Florida hasn’t beaten Alabama since 2008 when Tim Tebow was the quarterback. If there is one thing Alabama has had issues with in some of their rare losses, it is a running quarterback. The Gators have two, Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson. The Tide have also had more penalties early in the season than in recent memory. A bright spot has been new Bama QB Bryce Young, who has looked really good stepping in for Mac Jones. How will he handle his first true road test in a hostile environment is what to watch for in this one. The Gators have some missing pieces on defense but should make this game exciting for a while feeding off the crowd. In the end, the Saban factor always pushes it in the right direction. Roll Tide 38-21

Editor’s note: Now in its 10th 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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