Tusk to Tail: Hogs win three straight amid tequila eradication program
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The biggest concern heading into Saturday’s game against Georgia Southern was the potential for a so-called “trap game” lurking between bigger Arkansas matchups with Texas and Texas A&M. It didn’t happen.
The scoreboard looked remarkably similar for the third straight week, as the Razorbacks blasted the Eagles 45-10. The win capped off a successful three-game home stand, highlighted by last week’s 40-21 branding of the Texas Longhorns and a 38-17 comeback win over Rice in the season opener.
Though the scene remained the same, this weekend on The Hill had little in common with the last time Texas came to town. Three straight trips to Fayetteville can be a little taxing on anyone. Even some of our locals, including Greg, Forrest, and Little Kara were missing in action this weekend.
Jeb drove the truck and trailer for the first time Saturday. A successful attorney and local alumni advisor to his fraternity, Jeb said the responsibility of delivering a fully loaded tailgate was the most stress he had felt all week.
Craig, Sam, and I began the drive from Little Rock at 6 a.m. By the time we unloaded around 9, the Tusk to Tailgate was already semi-erected by the hometown crew. The only remaining tasks were connecting the TVs to the satellite, stocking the bar, and some last minute food prep. Dale replenished all the liquor drained by our thirsty guests at the Texas tailgate. New bottles of sweet tea flavored vodka and vodka flavored vodka were unloaded along with whiskey from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Canada. The Fireball region of Canada remains intentionally underrepresented at our officially licensed Arkansas Razorbacks bar.
Since it was my rounding error that led to us buying an entire extra case of Jose Cuervo gold, I took it upon myself to implement a tequila eradication program for TTT. Before lunchtime Saturday, I had tried tequila three different ways. A nice morning paloma led to a tequila sunrise, followed by a few rounds of ranch water made with fresh lime juice. We will be sharing some of our special cocktail recipes later this week. Perhaps there is still time to perfect the Hidden Valley Ranch water I kept trying to order from the bar.
As Hogtown on Maple Street began roaring to life, it was clear we would not have the same crowds as the week before. Lot 44 in front of the stadium, previously overflowing with fans on the SEC Nation set, was 100% vacant four hours before kickoff.
Tailgate tents began filling up in Victory Village, and plenty of fans seemed to enjoy the set of 90s covers performed by the Mixtapes. But still, things seemed more subdued than the “big time college football atmosphere” surrounding the Texas game. If last week was Coachella, this was like an indie music fest held in the hills of Ozark: still plenty of fun, just a lot less hype.
Having less guests means a little more free time for the hosts of Tusk to Tail. Both Dale and Kara seemed remarkably more relaxed, sitting to visit with friends and watch games on tv. As our tequila eradication program met its first quarter goals, I decided to wander with my son back to his fraternity house. You know it’s a good party when you have to go to a frat house to sober up.
Most Greek organizations were celebrating parents’ weekend, but it seemed like business as usual at his house. The back lawn was drenched in sunlight and joy. Country music blared on a PA speaker next to a children’s swimming pool filled with iced down cans of Busch Light. Shiny-faced pledges in black suits dumped four more 30-packs into the ice. A different pledge leapt onto a picnic table, declared “Hogs by 90!” and shotgunned a beer. Nobody seemed to indicate that this behavior was considered unusual.
The festivities showed no sign of letting up, but I needed to get back to the Big Top. It was about time for another Hidden Valley Ranch water.
Traversing back to our tailgate, I was struck by the pageantry and glory of the college campus on game day. I saw alumni taking photographs of their name on the graduate’s sidewalks and posing in front of Old Main. Small children decked out in the latest Razorbacks attire tried making sense of it all. Everyone just seemed happy. It was like a series of Norman Rockwell paintings, sponsored by a brewery.
Things at the tailgate had picked up a little by the time I returned, but Dale and Kara had things under control. Before long it was time to go to the game. Was Arkansas susceptible to the dreaded trap game?
The Hogs continued to develop their physical identity as they have all season: stifling defense and a punishing run game featuring a stable of tough running backs who seem to enjoy running people over. After both teams’ first two possessions, Arkansas led 14-0 over Georgia Southern and held a 162 to 4 advantage in yards gained. That is old school domination.
Dual threat quarterback KJ Jefferson had mostly been a single threat before Saturday, rushing for 180 yards and two touchdowns this season. It was hoped that Arkansas would work on the passing game against the Eagles. In his first play from scrimmage, Jefferson delivered a 47-yard bomb to Tyson Morris, setting up a 13-yard touchdown run by Trelon Smith.
Jefferson completed several long passes to several receivers. In the third quarter, KJ followed a 60-yard touchdown to Florida State transfer Warren Thompson with a 91-yard catch and run score by Treylon Burks. Jefferson finished with a career high 366 passing yards before handing the reins to backup quarterback Malik Hornsby. Hornsby added the final touchdown on a deceptively fast 6-yard scamper.
The win leaves #16 Arkansas 3-0 heading into the SEC opener against #7 Texas A&M next week at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The Aggies are the third former Southwest Conference opponent the Hogs will have faced this year, in addition to Rice and Texas. A&M has a 9-game winning streak against the Razorbacks, but our hot start has some Hog fans feeling optimistic.
Tusk to Tail should be well represented in the Lone Star state. We will be there trying to bring back a win. Chef Brad plans to grill up some goodies as we implement the next phase of our tequila eradication program before the 2:30 p.m. kickoff.
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.