If any team in America could use an open date, it’s the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Hogs lost their fifth game in a row Saturday night to No. 1 Alabama, 52-0, at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Outmatched, overwhelmed and overpowered, the Razorbacks struggled against the Crimson Tide in a fashion that’s become all too familiar to Arkansas fans. Any Hog fan who watched to the bitter end would qualify as a masochist.
On a day when upsets were all the rage in Southeastern Conference play, the Razorbacks posed absolutely no threat whatsoever to Alabama, a squad that started the season at No. 1 and seemingly continues to improve.
Even knowing the Razorbacks only had the barest thread of a chance — if that — of pulling off an upset going into the game, it was difficult to watch. The Hogs weren’t helpless in the contest, but it was close. A practice might have been more competitive to the Crimson Tide, who played as close to perfect as conceivably possible with no turnovers and no penalties.
If there is any benefit from the loss to Alabama, it is that it clearly detailed how far the Razorbacks must travel before the program can be considered a truce contender in the SEC.
Likewise, if Arkansas coach Bret Bielema didn’t have a full understanding of the chore he undertook in accepting the task of rebuilding the Razorbacks program, he certainly should have the data now after the last five games.
The Razorbacks must improve greatly in every aspect of the game unless they want to accept the doormat status where the program has resided last year and thus far this season. Arkansas is not yet doomed to back-to-back losing seasons, but it’s hard to believe that is not where the squad is headed.
As tough as the last five games have been, the four following this week’s open date don’t seem that much easier, considering Auburn’s upset of Texas A&M and Ole Miss’ victory over LSU.
Since allowing Rutgers to post a come-from-behind victory, the Hogs’ confidence has slowly eroded to the point in which it is hard to point out positives in their last two losses to South Carolina and Alabama.
The Razorbacks — players and coaches — have to find a way to pick themselves up and create some sort of positive to build upon during the upcoming offseason. When the season started, fans hoped it would be a lower-tiered bowl game. While that goal is still attainable by winning three of their last four games, it seems more and more unlikely.
Right now, any spark of life in the program would be appreciated. Any type of momentum to carry into the offseason to give Hog fans hope would be helpful.
But that spark has to start from within the Razorback camp. Arkansas fans are more than willing to support their team, but they must see some signs of life, which haven’t seemed readily apparent in the Hogs’ last two losses.
Maybe that spark can be rekindled following a much-needed open date.