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Arkansas wins the conference mediocrity championship; takes home obesity national championship.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

TAKES are late this week because on Friday, I flew to Oklahoma City, got in a car and rode to Fayetteville [a four hour drive], watched a game [it was definitely a game], rode back to Oklahoma City [another four hours], hopped on a plane for Nashville, watched Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit at The Ryman twice and caught a car ride back to Birmingham.

Shoutouts to Ray Tichenor, Greg Tice, Carleigh Holley and Andy Carpenter for making those things all possible with their hospitality.  Like, I was going to get on a Greyhound bus today to get back to the Magic City, an idea that had my father panicked. But Andy came up huge.

Here are a few things that I learned about the Arkansas experience upon my first visit to Reynolds Razorback Stadium [my 11th GameDay experience in the SEC]:

Everything in that part of the world is far. Two hours of nothing. CITY! Two hours of nothing. CITY! And the cities all look like Hoover. McDonald's, Best Buy, Chipotle. We actually stayed in Bentonville, which had a downtown square with character. We ate at a fantastic Italian place called Tavola Trattoria. I had a penne pesto dish that had steak in it. Top notch.

And that area felt like most any small to medium sized Southern square, revitalized. The first thing that came to mind, honestly, was Jasper, Alabama. We visited the first ever Walton's 5-10 [Wal-Mart], which really looked like the Country Store part of a Cracker Barrel. Some middle schoolers were inside the museum taking their Homecoming photos beside a Wal-Mart truck. That was strange. I think that, even in Rogersville, we went to maybe a park or  fountain or something. Not Bentonville middle schoolers; they go to the Wal-Mart museum.

And I knew Wal-Mart owned that town, but I didn't realize to what extent. A few people asked me, "So do they have, like, the biggest Wal-Mart ever?"

No. They have 40 of them. Like a Wal-Mart for every 15 people. There are Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets, but then there are also stand alone gas stations and drive-ins that look like a Sonic where you order groceries online and they bring them to your car. It's wild.

After the game, we went to Dickson Street, which looked pretty cool, but with just a couple of hours available on our watch and a very tired eight-year-old in tow, we elected not to hit the partying scene. Most of us are also over 30 now and were already low on sleep. I don't begrudge the "scene" for our time management decisions. It appeared fun.

The game was weird, man. And not just because it had four overtimes and lasted four hours. Arkansas kind of takes a hodgepodge of other stadium traditions and makes them into a greatest hits collection: "Seven Nation Army," "Sandstorm," live animal mascot.

I didn't know they had a Homecoming float that all of the cheerleaders got on and rode around the stadium proudly showing off their caged hog. Weird stuff, man. I'm not exaggerating that.

Also weird? Maybe ease off the loud ass fireworks every time you score an extra point. It was an 11 a.m. game. And these explosions were alarming and aggressive. It was like having a military flyover for a Little League baseball game.

They also steal that Vanderbilt "That's another [team] FIRST DOWN]" crowd participation thing. We get it. We saw.

The experience I got with their fans was just fine. Two terrible teams played for four overtimes and four hours and the home team won. No one was really swearing at each other during this one, folks. Actual conversation I had when we parked the car with an Arkansas fan:

HIM: "Where did you fly into?"

ME: "Oklahoma City. Drove over."

HIM: "How far is that?"

ME: "Oh, three or four hours."

HIM: "That's not too bad."

ME: "Nope. It'll probably be longer on the way back."

HIM: "I don't know about that. You guys will probably win."

ME: "No way, probably you guys."

HIM: "Guess we will see."

ME: "Yep. Thank you for being kind. This conversation has been incredibly pleasant."

HIM: "Oh I agree. Safe travels."

Arkansas fans seem nice.

And those folks LOVE Gus Malzahn. A man greeted us as we walked away from the loss, "Sure love your coach!"

At the first Wal-Mart, a little old lady says, "We sure love Coach Gus Malzahn. He got a raw deal at Arkansas."

Where else in the SEC does that happen? "We can find nothing about your head coach to make fun of. Totes jelly."

But it's still weird. Fayetteville is in a McMuffin zone, that is, you can only get McMuffins on the all-day breakfast menu (not biscuits) and they call "Hardee's" a "Carl's Jr." so we can stop granting them Southern clemency. They're Midwesterners at best, and they might be secret Yankees. Their stadium also serves Pepsi products exclusively, which almost certainly proves that they are secret Yankees.

You can't see the stadium until you are inside of it. We rerouted our way around traffic and took a shot on paying someone $20 to park in their yard because we saw a lot of people walking and sure enough, it was like a half mile from our space. The stadium is in a hole, not unlike Sanford Stadium in Athens.

They also love crappy music. As we walked through campus, I heard people cranking Carrie Underwood at their tailgate. And some other female country artist. Maybe Carrie Underwood has fantastic songs, I wont pretend to know. But I'd probably prefer AC/DC or something wild at my tailgate. Maybe that whip and nae nae song; really work em into a frenzy.

Really nice people, very hilly campus that students actually ride scooters on because they are lazy, secret Yankees. This will be my memory of Fayetteville.

The game? Well, that was weird, too. Auburn has no talent on defense, and I want to be angry at Will Muschamp about that, but it's not his fault that he doesn't have one linebacker that could play anywhere else in the SEC West.

I'm not sure what the slow start on offense thing is about. Once everyone finds a rhythm, it seems to work much as it always has. But it takes 20 minutes or so of trial and error to arrive at that.

Sean White is fantastic, and I haven't seen many Auburn quarterbacks confidently check through reads the way he does. He's unafraid. And he's a freshman. That's the most reassuring thing about 2015. And they haven't quit. And Auburn's best effort may beat Georgia. That would be fun.

See y'all in Lee County on Saturday.