This Saturday the Hogs will again have to become Auburn Tigers fans during the SEC Championship game. With an Auburn win, and bid for the National Championship game, the Hogs will be all but a shoo in for the Hogs first BCS bowl ever and the first Sugar Bowl appearance since 1979. If the Auburn Tigers were to lose it would certainly send the Hogs Sugar Bowl hopes swirling down, possibly to a Capitol One Bowl bid or a Cotton Bowl bid. These are bowl games that the Hogs have been to, and share history with the Cotton Bowl. Not to be disrespectful to the Capitol One or Cotton Bowl’s, but this is a new Arkansas Razorbacks team, a team that is achieving things Hog teams haven’t done.
A big part of breaking the cycle of run right, run left, run up the middle, punt, has been Bobby Petrino. I’m not sure there has been another Head Coach who has received more negative press than Petrino.
But amongst all the crap that was spewed over Coach Petrino leaving a putrid Atlanta Falcons team, whose star had just been sent to Federal Prison, for a fresh start in the Ozarks, Bobby Petrino never checked up. He never lashed out. He obviously put his mind and energy into putting together a ferocious playbook that has taken the Arkansas Razorbacks to a new level.
But one other key piece to the puzzle, Ryan Mallett has been phenomenal since he has stepped on the field. Mallett has given us all something to talk about. Between Ryan Mallett and Bobby Petrino they have combined to propel Arkansas into college football legitimacy again. They have the fanbase believing that their Hogs can beat anyone. And that is something that hasn’t been around this great state in a long while.
Although the credit could easily be given to those two individuals, it’s not that simple.
It starts with Bobby Petrino but it ends much further down the line. Petrino has put together a great coaching staff that has molded recruits into one of the best teams Hog fans have seen in years.
Many people throughout the season voiced displeasure in the defensive coaches, but like it or not the defense is a huge reason the Hogs have reached the 10 win mark. Willy Robinson has fielded a defense that has exceeded expectations.
And when it comes to dishing out credit, if you leave out the offensive line you have failed in your assessment of this team. The offensive line is the only offensive line in the nation to have the same five starters all season long. The big guys up front deserve as much credit as anyone.
Speaking of phenomenal blocking, the wide receivers have definitely stepped up in that department. On more than one occasion, the block of a wide receiver has sprung a five yard run into a 75 yard run.
And when it comes to running, Knile Davis has been a stud. In the Hogs final 7 games, Davis seemed to run harder as the game went on, and in the LSU game seemed unstoppable.
While it is safe to say that Bobby Petrino put this machine in motion, many others have kept it going all season long.
In projected bowl game match ups, many have Arkansas making it’s first BCS Bowl game ever, taking on Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.
An interesting note as far as the BCS, Arkansas has 4 wins over teams currently in the BCS top 25. That is more than the No. 2 through no. 5 teams…combined. Auburn is the only other team with more wins over BCS top 25 teams with 5.
But all the Hogs success comes back to one man. Head Coach Bobby Petrino. Tons of people have tried to trash Petrino, but to borrow and edit an old saying, one teams trash is another teams treasure. I’ve learned in my years that anyone who constantly knocks on another person, is often jealous of what that person has or can accomplish.
The state of Arkansas has a coaching staff and a team they can be proud of, a team that has surpassed expectations of many people and barring an upset in the SEC Championship game, will be headed to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl.
Follow James Moseley on Twitter:@james_moseley