Friday, October 24, 2008

Football Friday -- A Reminisce Edition

I've been a little homesick lately. It happens every fall. About the time the leaves turn brilliant gold, red and orange back in Arkansas, I start thinking of home.

I miss Friday night tailgate parties in the parking lot before Jessieville football games. I miss visiting every Friday morning with Coach Phillips and Coach Saveall. I miss Pep Rallies at the Sports Arena. And I miss sneaking into the pressbox at halftime to steal the leftovers prepared for the pressbox crew.

On Saturdays, I miss the drive up beautiful Highway 7, I -40 and I-540 toward Fayetteville. I miss everything from our Red Zone seats in the south endzone at Razorback Stadium to the Hog Call that echoes throughout the hills and hollers of the Ozarks.

Many of my peers back home lived for the fall and deer season. I lived for 10 (hopefully 15) Friday nights of Benton Panther and then, Jessieville Lion football, and Arkansas Razorback football on Saturday.

Guess you can take the boy out of Arkansas but you can never take Arkansas out of the boy!

I say all that because if I could be anywhere else tomorrow evening, it would be back in my Red Zone seats to watch Houston Nutt's Ole Miss Rebels on the Razorback Stadium turf for the first time. From 1998-2002, I never thought for a moment there would be a day when Houston Nutt wasn't roaming the west sideline of Razorback Stadium. But 2003-2008 turned sour, expectations were not met, a soap opera unfolded, and now, Houston Nutt finds himself in the role of Colonel Reb on the east sideline tomorrow night.

It should be an incredible atmosphere. The internal motivation of both teams should be incredibly high. The crowd noise and the electricity inside Razorback Stadium should match 1999 when Arkansas beat then #2 ranked Tennessee on a Clint Stoerner to Anthony Lucas touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter (as I type that, I can hear the faint echo of the late Paul Eels yelling, "Touchdown Arkansas! Oh my!").

Ever since I called the score in the Arkansas/Texas game four weeks ago, my prediction success has taken a hit. So take this one with a grain of salt.

If Nutt goes Wild Rebel and Dexter McCluster fumbles or tries to throw a pass into double coverage as he has in recent Ole Miss games, Arkansas will be in good shape.

Is Michael Smith well enough to carry the load? Does Tyrone Nix's defense get exposed by the Arkansas offense as it did last year when he was calling the shots for the South Carolina defense?

It's a game with great anticipation, an endless amount of story lines, and a plot that would make for a good movie.

My head says Ole Miss because they have more talent than their 3-4 record would indicate. This game has all the marks of one Houston Nutt's teams play up for. But my heart says the Bobby Petrino era is established tomorrow on a chilly fall evening in the Ozarks.

Arkansas -- 28
Ole Miss -- 27