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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Hogs’ opener will be a rarity in UA history

by Wally Hall | August 18, 2022 at 2:29 a.m.

It has been 42 years since the Arkansas Razorbacks opened the season ranked in the top 25 against an opponent that is also ranked in the preseason poll.

Mostly that is because for decades the majority of the top teams in the country opened with a soft nonconference opponent to iron out any wrinkles.

Arkansas is 24-6 in season openers the past 30 years.

The losses were to The Citadel 10-3 in 1992, at SMU 17-14 in 1995, SMU 23-10 in 1996, No. 6 USC 50-14 in 2006, at No. 6 Auburn 45-21 in 2014 and No. 4 Georgia 37-10 in 2020.

The last time the Razorbacks were ranked and opened with a ranked team was 1980, and they were No. 6 and Texas was No. 10. The Longhorns won 23-17 on ABC.

Ken Hatfield was the only coach in recent history to never lose a season opener, although in his first season the Hogs tied Ole Miss 14-14.

. . .

As expected, the mighty SEC led the way in the preseason Associated Press top 25 with six teams.

The ACC was second with five and the Big Ten had four teams.

The Pac-12 had three as did the Big 12.

However, the Big 12 would have tied the SEC with six if Cincinnati, Brigham Young and Houston were already in the league, although the conference would have dropped one when Oklahoma joins the SEC.

Texas was unranked but was among the other teams receiving votes.

. . .

Cincinnati opens the season at Arkansas, and recently the Bearcats had their first scrimmage of the fall.

It was a full contact, all-out competition that saw the defense get two turnovers and the offense score four touchdowns.

Linebacker Ty Van Fossen had a scoop and score, and defensive back Jabari Taylor had an interception.

The Bearcats, who love to throw the ball, had three touchdown passes and a long scoring run by Myles Montgomery.

Cincinnati's defense, which allowed less than 17 points per game during last season's 13-1 campaign that ended with a loss to Alabama in the College Football Playoff, returns just four starters

However, the Bearcats return all five offensive linemen and the battle for starting quarterback has been intense.

. . .

How times have changed in the SEC and it isn't just name, likeness and image or the transfer portal.

A handful of years ago, Nick Saban was one of the vocal leaders against hurry-up offenses, but it didn't last long.

The coach who taught his teams to win with defense and a calculated, low-risk offense changed in 2014 when he brought in Lane Kiffin to juice up the offense.

Prior to opening up the offense, Saban was 74-15 and had three national championships (and one at LSU in 2003).

Since then, he's 104-10 with three national championships..

It should always be pointed out that his first season had wins vacated as he took over a team in turmoil and in the NCAA jailhouse. The Crimson Tide were 2-6 that season with five wins vacated.

Throw that season out and Saban is 176-19 overall and 102-12 in SEC play.

One thing that hasn't changed for Saban, he still teaches that defense wins championships.

. . .

Apparently almost every college football head coach agrees something has to be done about NIL before it destroys the morale of teams.

Schools are not required to report how much athletes make from sponsorships, but it seems like on a regular basis there is a story about a recruit being offered a ridiculous amount of money.

The coaches want a cap and they want it to be fair for all players.

The suggestion here is to base it on grades and longevity. The better your grades and the longer you stay, the more you make. That might help with the transfer portal, too.

Print Headline: Hogs’ opener will be a rarity in UA history


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