OPINION — Like It Is

OPINION | WALLY HALL: Schedule has been brutal, but also unfair

The four-game road schedule was as brutal as expected.

From the time the 2023 Arkansas schedule was announced, most fans thought if the Razorbacks could win one of the four they would be in decent shape for the stretch run.

The hand grenade and horseshoes schedule -- close but no cigar -- started in Baton Rouge and ended in Tuscaloosa, Ala., with stops in between at Arlington, Texas, and Oxford, Miss.

No other team in the SEC has played more than two consecutive road games.

Yes, the game against Texas A&M at Arlington was technically a home game for the Hogs, but in reality it was a total road game and someone in the SEC office knew that when they put together the conference schedule.

It was a little like 2020, the covid season, when all games were conference games and in addition to the always-difficult West teams, the Hogs had to play at Georgia (the season-opener) and Florida and hosted Tennessee.

The schedule made headlines across the nation as the most difficult in all of college football.

Arkansas went 3-7 that year, Sam Pittman's first, losing at home to the Bulldogs 37-10 and on the road to the Gators 63-35 while beating Tennessee 24-13 at home.

In the most difficult stretch in college football this season, the Razorbacks lost by three, 34-31 at LSU; by a touchdown, 27-20 at Ole Miss; and by a field goal, 24-21, to Alabama in front of more than 100,000 fans.

All three of those teams are ranked in the AP top 25 and were favored by the bookmakers.

The "home game" at Arlington was won by Texas A&M 34-22.

Now the Hogs have to find a way to get a W.

A caller to Morning Mayhem on KABZ-FM, 103.7, The Buzz asked how many moral victories equal a real win.

Pittman doesn't believe in moral victories any more than any coach or fan, but amidst the five-game losing streak, one thing has almost been unnoticed.

As piecemeal as this team has gotten because of key injuries, it is improving enough to be competitive on the road.

Which brings up the question: Do injured players still get their NIL money? Probably depends on the individual contracts, but nothing is uniform about the NIL.

What would help as much as getting some key players back is a much-needed dose of confidence from a loud and proud crowd of more than 70,000 to be on hand Saturday morning to show its support and appreciation.

Those who have conflicts need to sell or give their tickets away.

No, 11 a.m. games are not as much fun, and TV sets the times not the SEC office, but the game between Arkansas and Mississippi State looms large in several ways.

A win going into an open date would put some pep in the step of the Arkansas players and take some pressure off them.

Obviously it would put them a game closer to being bowl eligible, which would probably put them in line for the Texas Bowl in Houston against a Big 12 opponent on Dec. 27.

And it would wash some of the bad taste out of the Razorbacks' mouths that started with a winnable loss to BYU at home last month.

That game was the last time the Hogs played at home. Since then they have played four games a total of 1,836 miles from home.

This is a double homecoming. One with a court and queen, and the other a much needed return to familiar surroundings, friends and family.

The schedule this season, just like 2020, was not fair, but not one coach or player has whined.

They got up every day and went to work.

Against three ranked teams and an old rival, they drew praise from every opposing coach for their refusal to quit and fighting right up the final buzzer.

No one is more disappointed with the past five games than the coaches and players.

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