Live from Memphis - the crossroads of the Tennessee/Arkansas "rivalry" - and I'm seeing red. Arkansas, as documented below, is as much as a 6.5 point favorite. On CollegeFootballNews.com's staff picks, the Hogs swept the board (they even won the coin toss). Arkansas can run. Darren McFadden is the best player in the SEC. They play a physical game that no one else can play these days in the SEC. Erik Ainge is hurt and won't start. Tennessee had three players suspended. We're still heartbroken over LSU and being eliminated from Atlanta. And even the Casey Dick story is getting the friendly Razorback spin - he was hurt in August, wasn't an option in the USC loss, and is good enough, apparently, to warrant pulling the QB that won you eight straight after one series in Columbia. All signs point to Arkansas, right?
Am I missing something here? Am I so UT-biased that I can't see what an obvious favorite the Pigs are on Saturday to everyone else?
Do you know what I think can happen? I think the Vols can bust these guys. Now, we're using the word "can" and not "will", so let's not throw me under the orange-tinted bus just yet. But I can remember some situations in the past five or six years where the Vols were given no chance - at Georgia in 04, at Miami in 03, at Florida in 01 - against legitimate quality opponents. Is Arkansas 06 in the same breath as anything resembling those teams? Yes, they demolished Auburn when they caught them sleeping. But don't tell me that 50-14 is a throwaway number. Those are the same guys putting on their unis today. And don't tell me that if Vanderbilt and Alabama know how to close, that this isn't a 6-3 team that's thinking upset instead of an 8-1 "juggernaut" that everyone in the free world is picking to close out the Vols.
Even with Jonathan Crompton, Tennessee can bust these guys. I'll take 3-2, and I'll take 50-49 if it comes down to six overtimes again. And sure, Arkansas is a good football team playing at home with plenty of reasons to win. But throwing the Vols in the discard pile seems irrational, quick, and frankly I hope the boys in orange are paying attention to it this week. This isn't 2005. We're still Tennessee. Unleash the fury.