Tusk to Tail: Hogs might win two games this year, but one won’t be against Georgia
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Due to COVID-19 restrictions, less than 25% of Tusk to Tail members were gathered to predict the outcome for this opening weekend of SEC action. We cover the Hogs’ matchup with Georgia, and predict how the first year of the Pittman era will unfold.
Arkansas is scheduled to play a 10-game schedule against the SEC this year. What will their season record be?
Todd Rudisill: I’m going to go with two wins in this ten-game SEC slate. In a normal year, injuries always play a big part. Now throw in COVID, and anyone could miss on any given Saturday. I think the Hogs get their wins against Ole Miss and Missouri. We will find out in the second game of the year against Mississippi State just how competitive the Hogs can be this season. Hogs fans want to see is improvement each week and a W or two along the way. Prediction: 2-8
David Rice: Coach Bobby Petrino was averaging 10 to 11 wins a year when he slid his motorcycle out of Arkansas. Now, four and a half coaches later, riding a 19-game SEC losing streak, to predict just three wins or more goes beyond optimistic fanhood into sheer delusion. Two wins would not only be acceptable, it would be considered a huge improvement over the past three years combined. That’s my call.
• #4 Georgia @ Arkansas
Todd Rudisill: The Hogs have never beaten the Bulldogs in the state of Arkansas. Both Arkansas wins since joining the SEC came in Athens, with the last one being in 2010. Coach Sam Pittman’s debut naturally ends up being against his former team of the past four years due to the COVID-19 rescheduling. We have heard from the Arkansas players that they are surrounded by “winners” in all of the new coaches. The toxic atmosphere that former coach Chad Morris left seems to be cleared out, and a much needed new beginning is ready to kick off. If Morris did one good thing for the Hogs, it was preparing them for playing in front of 17,000 this season. That was about the average of the 2nd half crowds last season. Unfortunately, we kick it off against what might be the best defense in the country. You have to like playing Georgia early instead of mid or late season, but the sheer depth of the Bulldogs is too much for Hogs to overcome. Expect Felipe Franks, Rakeem Boyd, and Treylon Burks to provide some fireworks. But more importantly, expect to see some fight from the Hogs, which has been missing for two years. Dawgs win 42-23
David Rice: Hope is never much of a strategy, but that’s all we can do here. Hope the Hogs play hard for 4 quarters. Hope the Razorbacks play competitively and can keep it close. Hope we see a few things that give us further hope for the future. Georgia 38, Arkansas 12.
• #23 Kentucky @ #8 Auburn
Todd Rudisill: Who would ever think that UK and Auburn would be one of the most exciting games of the weekend? The last three times these two have played have been decided by one possession. Both QBs return in Terry Knox and Bo Nix. What will the Chad Morris effect be like at Auburn as he takes over as offensive coordinator? We shall see. The Wildcats give Auburn all they want but Tigers pull it out in the 4th, 24-20
David Rice: Arkansas has a bad habit of hiring young, energetic, up-and-coming coaches who wind up being in over their heads, but become successful assistants at bigtime programs. It happened with John Pelphrey in basketball, and I think it may happen at Auburn with Chad Morris. Auburn by 10.
• #5 Florida @ Ole Miss
Todd Rudisill: The debut of Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss. The Gators defense held eight teams under 90 yards rushing last season. The “Lane Train” gets derailed in his first game in Oxford. Gators chomp, 42-20.
David Rice: Florida looks ready to start playing for SEC Championships again. It starts with an Ole Miss beatdown, 31-13.
• Miss. St @ #6 LSU
Todd Rudisill: Joe Burrow is no longer there, so expect the Tigers to be good but not great this season. I think LSU could easily lose 4 games this year. The Bulldogs debut their passing attack with the pirate coach Mike Leach, but can it all come together in the first game? Probably not. LSU will be trying to break in their new QB Myles Brennan. It is the first game of the season, and both teams are trying to get the wrinkles out. It should be competitive most of the game in Death Valley. Louisiana State 33-20.
David Rice: Conventional wisdom says LSU will take a step back after losing so much talent to the NFL from last year’s championship team. It won’t show here against Coach Mike Leach and the Bulldogs. 35-11 Tigahs.
• #16 Tennessee @ South Carolina
Todd Rudisill: When was the last time Tennessee entered a season ranked? This is the first time they have been ranked since September 2017 in their last year with Butch Jones as coach. Will this be Will Muschamp’s last season in Columbia? The Vols blew out SC last season 41-21, but this one is on the road. We will see a new definition of what a road game is this year with 25% full stadiums. Fourteen of the last 20 matchups have been one possession games, so no reason to think it won’t be again. Vols win, 27-23.
David Rice: Tennessee quarterback Jarret Guarantano is not very good, but it seems like this is the sixth straight he has been named the Vols’ starter. Tenner may win, but give me the Gamecocks and the points. Tennessee 24, South Carolina 23.
• #24 Louisville @ #21 Pittsburgh
Todd Rudisill: Malik Cunningham has thrown over 300 yards and 3 scores in his first two games for the Cardinals. Louisville is coming off a home loss to Miami. Expect a low scoring game on the road against undefeated Pitt. Pitt takes this one 24-20.
David Rice: Neither of these teams would be ranked if the Big Ten and Pac 12 were playing right now. I’ll take the Cardinals in a close one. Louisville 27, Pittsburgh 23.
Editor’s note: Now in its ninth 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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