On August 31, 2013 @ approximately 3:00 pm CST the Bret Bielema era of Razorback football will begin. The foe will be Louisiana-Lafayette and and the game will be anything but a ho-hum, non-conference, pushover win.
The Razorbacks will be transitioning from the shenanigans of Bobby Petrino and his brilliant pass-happy offensive mind, to a more rounded and balanced offense better patterned for success in the SEC. The biggest question is how long will the transition take? I don't know the answer to that, but if you think the Razorbacks will line up and just push the Ragin' Cajuns all over the field, you are wrong. Dead wrong.
Coach Mark Hudspeth has a very talented Sun Belt team coming into Fayetteville and they are NOT afraid of the bright lights of the SEC. One only has to go back less than a year to a fateful day in November in The Swamp to understand that.
The Ragin' Cajuns were in line for a major college-football landscape shaking upset. Florida was 9 – 1 on the year with their only blemish being in the Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in the country to Georgia. Their defense was becoming what head coach Will Muschamp was renown for in his past SEC days. That is to say, hard-hitting, tough and just overall mean and ugly. Only Tennessee had scored 20 points on this D all year. However, here we were.
Clock showed 2:56 left in the game. The scoreboard read Louisiana-Lafayette 20 Florida 13. The Gators took over at the Cajuns 49 and scored in 4 plays to tie the game at 20. The Gators forced a 3 and out and with :13 left in the game called a timeout. The Cajuns them attempted to punt. Yes, they attempted. Loucheiz Purifoy broke through the line and blocked the punt and Jelani Jenkins returned it 36 years with :02 remaining to give Florida the win.
Yep. This is the same Cajun team. Same coach. Same QB. More experience this time. Going against a team that doesn't have any game experience in this new system being installed. Is it a setup for upset?
Well, not sure it would be an upset, except in the eyes of Vegas oddsmakers. The Cajuns have been ranked as high as the mid-30s in some pre-season rankings. The Hogs? More like mid-80s. So, am I just setting it up for a major letdown in the opening game of the Bielema era? While I think it will be a much closer game than it should be. In the end, I think the D line of the Hogs makes the plays it needs to make and the offense gets humming in the second half as the Hogs pull away for the victory.
The Ragin' Cajuns will be a great opening game for college football for the Razorback faithful. We will get to see what a real coach does in pressure situations. Trust me it won't be to ask the audience to "smile". In-game adjustments by one of the best assembled staffs in college football will lead the Hogs to the victory in a very tight game.
Final Score: Ragin' Cajuns 21 Hogs 31