Posted: 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013
By Andy Hutchins
I think that Florida's better than Arkansas, that Florida is rather likely to beat Arkansas when the two teams meet under the lights on Florida Field tonight (7 p.m., ESPN2), and that Florida will probably follow the same strategy it has used for its last seven quarters with Tyler Murphy at the helm — patient, efficient offense that is predicated on controlling the ball and avoiding mistakes, which makes things easier for its dominant defense.
And I'm sorry: I can't get all that excited for that until I'm actually in the stadium to see it.
Florida's got long and storied histories with nearly every member of the SEC, because that's what being a charter member of the conference has gotten the Gators over time. But Florida has less and less consequential history with Arkansas than any other SEC team save Missouri and Texas A&M;, the new kids on the block. Florida's 8-0 against Arkansas since the Razorbacks joined the SEC, and though two of those wins produced SEC Championships, neither is all that memorable for Florida fans, because both games were followed by far more important national title games.
Florida's most memorable game against Arkansas isn't even an SEC Championship game: It's the 2009 game that abysmal refereeing handed to the Gators by a 23-20 count, allowing them to continue their maddening march back to the SEC Championship Game at that point. Arkansas was the only team that put up 20 points on Florida before that SEC Championship Game, and held Florida's Steve Addazio-coordinated offense in check.
But though that game ended up being the closest shave of the 2009 season, it's hard to argue that Florida fans remember it better than the Arkansas fans who have legitimate gripes about being robbed of a win.
So here we are now, five years later, with Florida looking a lot more vulnerable than it did then and Arkansas well removed from Bobby Petrino's heyday. Bret Bielema is the new head Hog, and he has a run-first offense imported from Wisconsin and rugged linemen imported from all over the country, and ... Arkansas has been run over by a Texas A&M; squad that much prefers finesse, lost to Rutgers, and trailed Samford in the fourth quarter this season.
Florida's plenty vulnerable, but the first year of the Bielema era leaves Arkansas operating somewhere below full capacity, and so this game feels to me like yet another game in the Will Muschamp era that Florida wins comfortably without ever pulling away. This is the blueprint of Big Dumb Will Muschamp Football, and with Florida in all-blue in front of a crowd that should be all blue and loud, the blueprint should suffice.
I'll be at the game, but FlaGators is your huckleberry in the comments, and he'll have a recap shortly after the game. I'm going to try to publish the Rapid Recap at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, so you can read it along with Breakfast With the Gators.