I went to Arkansas one time. It was 2007, I was a freshman at Auburn, and my roommate and I decided to drive the dozen or so hours to Fayetteville to see our Tigers play. Why we chose the furthest road trip, I don’t know, but we saw many things.
First of all, there’s a fantastic Sonic in Fulton, Mississippi. At the time it had two playgrounds, a basketball court, and batting cages. It was probably the single greatest establishment in that town ten years ago. I have no idea exactly how derelict it is now, but I’ll always have the memories.
Other than that, it’s a long, arduous road to reach Fayetteville. If memory serves me well, there’s no really straight road to reach northwest Arkansas. You kind of have to drive toward Oklahoma and then veer kind of backward in a northerly angle to get to the University of Arkansas. I think when you hit the turn, you’re only a few miles from Oklahoma. We considered driving over the border into Oklahoma just to say we’d been there since we never had (and still haven’t), but wiser thoughts prevailed and we didn’t waste half an hour so that we could claim attendance in the Sooner State.
If you recall, that was a Tuberville revenge factor game. A 9-7 win with Wes Byrum’s walk-off field goal clinching it for the Tigers got us a small amount of vengeance over the Hogs after they ruined our #2 ranking a year earlier. Now, it’s a different type of revenge.
Auburn thrashed Arkansas 56-3 last year at home, scoring on the first play from scrimmage and never looking back. The Hogs only score came on a long desperation field goal as the half ended, but Auburn ran all over Bret Bielema on that day in one of the most complete victories you’ll ever see.
It came in the midst of the Tigers’ exceptional stretch of football in 2016, where they won six straight and climbed into the top ten. We were there before last week, sitting at #10 before the collapse at LSU, and now it’s time to right the ship. We dropped eleven spots in the polls, but miraculously, most of our goals are still there. Win out (as unlikely as it may be), and we’ll still probably go to Atlanta. If we win there, a playoff berth as a two-loss team is far from undeserved.
Now, that’s not predicting that those things will happen, but at the very least it’s all still on the table. And the comeback tour starts today in Fayetteville. Let’s get the win, go into the bye week feeling good, and come out on the other side ready to correct some ills from the past as the SEC schedule picks up. Today’s a pit stop in the far corners of the conference, and we’re just fueling up for the road ahead.