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LSU takes home ‘Golden Boot,’ even though Tigers fans don’t care

GOLDEN BOOT: Many LSU fans say they have no natural rival in the SEC, but they “would rather take home the dumb trophy than let Arkansas have it.”

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Shaped like the two border states, we all know the Golden Boot trophy is awarded annually to the winner between Arkansas and LSU and it’s headed back to Baton Rouge now.

But do know all of the following facts (mingled with thoughts)? Take a look:

Made out of 24-karat gold the Golden Boot is slightly over 4-feet tall.

Arkansas has a trophy case in Bud Walton Arena which holds the rivalry trophy following the years in which the Razorbacks are the victor.

Chad Morris never won the Golden Boot.

LSU leads the “rivalry award” series 16 – 8.

The game was played for several seasons as the last regular season game for both teams the day after Thanksgiving.

After the change, LSU picked up Texas A&M and Arkansas was slated to face Missouri as “rivalry” games the last week of the season. Neither of those forced enmities seem to have the same steam as the Tigers and Razorbacks.

It’s probably the coolest rivalry trophy when compared to others across the NCAA.

Arkansas and LSU never played for the award in Fayetteville, Arkansas, until 2012. Up to that point all Razorback home games in the serious had been held in Little Rock.

It’s heavy. In fact, many fans get nervous watching as the winning team hoists the precarious 175-pound award.

LSU fans do not like the tophy, and they hate how much Arkansas fans like it.

Arkansas and LSU faced off four times in the SEC (with each team winning respectively winning two in a row) before the induction of the Golden Boot in 1996.

LSU won the initial game, and both teams alternated victories for the next six seasons.

Since the SEC split to East and West and introduced the SEC Championship game, the winner has represented the West seven times.

Many LSU fans say they have no natural rival in the SEC, but they “would rather take home the dumb trophy than let Arkansas have it.”

The insignia on the Golden Boot’s plaque simply says “The Boot”.

Unless my math is incorrect, only fifth-year seniors at Arkansas would have ever been on an Arkansas team to hoist the trophy.

It has yet to test positive for covid.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Find me on ‘Twitter’: @PeterMorganWPS

Go HOGS!!!

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Pete Morgan

PETE’S PICKS: Some redeeming qualities from fans for Crimson Tide

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The Arkansas Razorbacks conclude their shortened, SEC Conference-only games when they host Alabama on Saturday.

While many fans have a strong hatred for the Crimson Tide, the thought of how many SEC fans cling to them as the tip of the arrow for the conference (especially during bowl season) made me wonder if there are any redeeming qualities to the consistent national championship contender.

So I began to ask around, and here are a few of the likes and dislikes of the SEC’s finest.

Head coach Nick Saban – Like

Competitive. Insatiable in his desire to win. Successful. Clean.

If you can say you have ever met or know someone who is MORE competitive than Nick Saban then you are completely unfamiliar with Alabama’s head coach.

It does not matter if his team is down 30 or up 70, his goal is perfection from his staff and his players on every single snap of the ball. Anything else would be unworthy of his kindness, and he is quick to let the guilty party know of their mistake.

He also has 161 wins and 23 losses with 12 bowl victories, 8 SEC West titles, 6 SEC championships, and 5 national champions as the head coach at Alabama. Read that again if you need validation he is not a proven winner.

As far as we can tell, he runs a clean program. More on that shortly.

Fans – Dislike

Upon initial submission of this week’s piece I was informed I cannot use the term “candyasses” in an article. I replied I sure would like to as its usage would completely summarize the majority of their pretentious, pompous, egotistical, self-centered…. Wait, I need to relax. We are all familiar with their fanbase.

Even some of their lower-tier columnists are appalled if a fan of another team cannot name which of their Crimson Tide offensive linemen will be the first selected in the upcoming NFL draft, yet when asked about their thoughts on an opposing head coach their response will be akin to “I have not given him any thought and am unfamiliar.”

No, not every person rocking the heavy slab serif circular text is a displeasure with which to socialize. Yet, as in most cases, the most vocal represent the majority, and, win or lose, Alabama’s loudest are those displaying the least class.

 “Whooooooa, Nellie” – Like

Who doesn’t love to hear Keith Jackson’s (not ours – the nation’s) beloved catch phrase followed by his ability to morph “the Crimson Tide of Alabama” into a one word phrase?

Their bevy of unrelated mascots – Dislike

What is it with the state of Alabama’s “two flagship” schools? Tigers, Crimson Tide, War Eagle, Elephants, Plainsmen, Red Elephants. Their inability to align themselves to a singular mascot is that of a six-year-old loading up her parents’ backseat with her entire collection of stuffed animals for a weekend visit to grandma’s. Somewhere in the halls of these schools a conversation has taken place similar to this:

“You can only pick one animal.”

“I cannot decide, Momma.” [Insert puppy dog eyes.]

“Okay, fine, sweetheart, you can take them all.”

Yes, I’ve read the stories behind each of these, and yes, I understand one is a chant; however, it’s just too much, although I must admit, it would be kind of cool if they someday started using a rat as an additional mascot to pay tribute to one of Nick Saban’s comments.

“Sweet Home Alabama” – Like

Okay, this has nothing to do with the Crimson Tide, but the opening guitar riff from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 1974 hit is one for which very few can resist without at least a hipster head bob.

Roll Tide – Dislike

Do not get me wrong, there’s nothing totally wrong with the chant. It’s a tradition recognized by so many.

What irks most outside of the Yellowhammer State is how the fans of the top program in the nation somehow get a kick out of taking rolls of toilet tissue, gluing them to Tide detergent boxes, and either toting them around on a stick or even going as far to mount them as head gear.

You heard me right, head gear people.

I mean if a state ever wanted to separate itself from the stigma it is just a bunch of dog raising hillbillies, then toting around such and odd tribute to the very thing for which your state is known might require some more abstract thought. I have been to Alabama; they have bakeries there. Think about it.

Their hatred for Lane Kiffin – Like

Any organization who has public discourse regarding their disdain for current Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin is not 100% bad.

Remember when Nick Saban gave Kiffin an earful in 2016 while the Tide held a 35-point lead over Western Kentucky with less than a minute to play in the game.

Over what?

A playcall from offensive coordinator Kiffin which did not sit well with Saban. When asked about the incident the head coach was quoted as saying, “There are no arguments. Those are called ass-chewings.”

Speaking of memories, do you recall the time the Alabama bus left Kiffin at the stadium following their national championship victory over Clemson? Do you remember when they left him again a year later in Atlanta?

If the latter was not bad enough, the program informed him the following week he would no longer be privy to travel with the Tide prior to that season’s national championship game.

Kiffin was about as welcome at Alabama as Mel Gibson would be at a Harvey Fierstein birthday party.

They don’t recruit and they never cheat – Dislike

Okay, that’s a falsehood on my behalf. They do recruit, and Saban is a relentless pro at it. My point is they do not have to.

Remember when a former Arkansas basketball coach said something along the lines of “We don’t recruit. We pick.” Yes, that. THAT all year long at Alabama.

Top players will sit the bench for multiple seasons at Bama when they could be an early starter at another D-I school. This is one reason why so many fans from across the nation despise what Saban has done in Tuscaloosa.

Despite some anonymous allegations and other rumblings regarding Apple Watches to players to monitor their health during the covid-19 quarantining, nothing comes to a prominent light of infractions during the Nick Saban era at Alabama.

None. Zero. Correct me if I have missed something.

 They make the SEC money – Like

Like a lot of conferences the SEC has revenue sharing.

Arkansas receives a full share even when Chad Morris had the responsibility to start every post-game press conference with “Little disappointed tonight. Things didn’t go the way we’d hoped.”

Guess who of the 14 conference teams most commonly brings in the majority of the SEC revenue for distribution purposes.

Before you go on a mad ‘Google’ hunt, know the difference between generated income for the school and revenue earned for conference dispersal.

Arkansas has not beaten Alabama since 2006 – Dislike

Remember Leigh Tiffin? If you were older than four and a Razorback fan in 2006 I can almost guarantee you do.

Arkansas defeated Alabama 24–23 in double-overtime.

I cannot recall ever feeling as much sympathy for the performance of an opposing player as I did for that young man on that day.  The Alabama kicker missed a 33-yard field goal in the first half, one from 30 in the fourth, and what would have been a victorious 37-yarder in the first overtime.

But that wasn’t the end of his day on that beautiful September Saturday.

Tiffin no doubt further provided himself lament when he missed an extra point wide right in the second overtime in Fayetteville. In only a matter of minutes,

Arkansas’s Jeremy Davis showed him proper technique in kicking the winning extra point following Mitch Mustain’s 11-yard touchdown pass on third down to tight end Ben Cleveland.

For clarity, while we have not beaten the Tide since 2006, there have been opportunities in close games. One heartbreaker (I believe) was in 2010 when No. 10 Arkansas had No. 1 Alabama down by 17 at the half.

However, during what would be a late fourth quarter drive by Alabama, two Arkansas defensive backs both had the same opportunity to intercept a Greg McElroy pass to seal the victory.

As only fate would allow the two backs crashed into one another, thus the ball fell haplessly to the ground.

One might ponder what would have happened to at least the Razorbacks program had the final score that day stayed in their favor.

Motorcycle ride for lunch anyone?

Honorable mentions:

Their hatred of Auburn – Like

Gulf Shores being called the Redneck Riviera – Dislike

They represent the SEC well – Like

The girl holding the “This is Our Conference” sign – Dislike

Their Affinity for Mullets – Undecided

There you have it. While I did not list anything specific regarding the game, its strategy, nor the countless other things to dislike about Alabama, you can see what the experts have to say on HitThatLine.com.

Also, listen to what Houston Nutt stated he would tell the team the night before facing #1 ranked Alabama when he visited with the fine hosts of The Morning Rush.

Arkansas keeps it close: Alabama 42, Arkansas 31.

Be certain to listen to the game Saturday at 11 a.m. at HitThatLine.com and on the air at ESPN Arkansas 95.3 in the River Valley, 96.3 in Hot Springs and 104.3 in Harrison-Mountain Home.

Quick SEC picks for Week 15

(Editor’s notes: Pete’s picks this week were to fill out a complete schedule so as to not be compared to the Big Ten as he was technically out of the competition with Andy Hodges before Halloween.)

Alabama at Arkansas: Tide by 11.
(9) Georgia at (25) Missouri: Bulldogs by 24.
Tennessee at Vanderbilt: Vols by 10.
LSU at (6) Florida: Gators by 17.
Auburn at Mississippi State: Tigers by 20.
Ole Miss at (5) Texas A&M: Aggies by 24.

Enjoy your Saturday no matter where you go or what you do.

Find me on ‘Twitter’: @PeterMorganWPS

Go HOGS!!!

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Pete Morgan

PETE’S PICKS: Hogs will win this one over defending national champs

LSU getting a taste of mediocrity less than a year after running the table with Joe Burrow to an undefeated season and national championship.

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It’s funny how things change. One day everything is going great, and then someone leaves, and now the daily mediocrity stares you directly in the face.

You begin to wonder for how long? Will this sensation of going from the top of the mountain to the bottom rung last forever? Will I ever return to normal or even obtain that psychological high?

Hitting too close to home for you? I get it. Oh trust me, I totally get it, and I’ve got 12 reasons why.

No, this intro is for the staunch LSU fan. Imagine being in their shoes.

One season you watch your beloved team hoist the national championship, then Joe Burrow leaves, and now you’re spending your Saturdays at home wondering if you have enough Kahlúa to pacify your mind long enough to make it to Sunday.

When this season started LSU fans circled the Arkansas game as a win. Razorbacks fans most likely marked it with a red L.

Normally I hate it when things change on a calendar, especially when it’s something I have my heart set upon. However, in this case, I am glad to see the expected yet tentative outcome change.

Nothing will make this unusual, “Thanksgiving is canceled due to Covid” holiday season better than having the Hogs take down the defending national champion.

So where do things stand? Can Arkansas pull off the upset?

What’s that? The Razorbacks are favored in this game? Surely you jest.

Why Arkansas will win:

Sam Pittman is back. Barry Odom did a fine job, but no doubt the players will respond to having the entire coaching staff in their traditional roles.

Trey Knox has something to prove. I’ll leave this right here.

Our offense is getting better and better. Kendal Briles will have a great scheme come Saturday. No doubt.

Why LSU will win:

They won’t. Seriously. Arkansas will win this one.

Also, I was feeling lazy when I wrote this.

FINE.  LSU’s players reportedly have circled the wagons to salvage the remainder of their season. Will this newfound motivation be enough?

Final thoughts:

Someone asked me why I didn’t interview Matt Breland this year? The answer: He always picks LSU to win.

Sorry, Matt, I didn’t want you to be wrong this year.

Arkansas basketball starts Wednesday. Check out hitthatline.com daily to see the latest updates.

I’m loving the backfield more and more each game. The offensive line needs to step up and dominate this week.

It’s always stated, but we have to establish a strong rushing game. Sound familiar?

If you’re successfully using Kahlúa to remedy what ails you you’re either an amateur or you’re problem really are not that bad.

I hope the Hogs put more effort into the game Saturday than I did this week’s piece.

LSU will not go quietly.

Razorbacks, 34 – 17.

Be certain to listen to the game Saturday at 11 a.m. on HitThatLine.com and on the air at ESPN Arkansas 95.3 in the River Valley, 96.3 in Hot Springs and 104.3 in Harrison-Mountain Home.

SEC picks for Week 12

Andy is quiet … too quiet. He either has COVID or has been marathon watching “Cocomelon.”

(6) Florida at Vanderbilt: If Kyle Trask gets off the bus in Nashville pray for Vanderbilt. Pray hard. Gators by 34.

LSU at Arkansas: Oh how things can change in one season. Hogs by 17.

Kentucky at (1) Alabama: The question is not whether or not Alabama will win. The question is if Kentucky comes out for the second half. Tide by 40.

Tennessee at (23) Auburn: I started feeling bad for Tennessee and Jeremy Pruitt following their loss to the Razorbacks. His seat is extremely blazing, and unless he shows he is ready to play the underclassmen (or if Tennessee’s accountants can’t do some major mathematical magic) he is out the door. This week will not help his case. Tigers by 22.

Mississippi State at (13) Georgia: Do I really need to break this down? Georgia by 30.

Missouri at South Carolina: I flipped my lucky coin … then I remember the Florida-Georgia game, and I threw my coin back into the drawer. Tigers by 7.

Ole Miss at (5) Texas A&M is postponed. Rebels fans can rejoice.

.38 Special said it best: Hold on loosely.

Find me on ‘Twitter’: @PeterMorganWPS

Go HOGS!!!

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Pete Morgan

PETE’S PICKS: Gators may be too large of hill to climb for Hogs

Florida is too strong at home, and unless Arkansas can show up with a “win one for the Gipper” attitude the road hill is too large for Hogs.

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Things we know and things we may not. Respectively they either directly or indirectly guide us through life.

Every action we take in every aspect has bearing based upon our knowledge, experience, and awareness. The food we order at our favorite restaurant, relationships, and even which Gators cap we wear when attending a Bobby Petrino press conference.

For the record, and on a personal level, I know I have two of those down to perfection.

As Razorbacks fans, something we know is, as tough as it may be and as much as we do not want to, we have got to move on from the asterisk by the Auburn game.

We are 3–3 in 2020, which is better than many expected in Sam Pittman’s first season. What we may not know is our three victories have been over teams with current losing records.

We do know the Hogs showed some moxie by mounting a very impressive second half comeback (which included a shut-out) victory after trailing Tennessee 13–0 at halftime.

What we may not know is the Vols used three quarterbacks in the second half to find some hint of a weakness in our defense.

However, what we do know, is in their losses against three currently ranked opponents, Arkansas has played well, even worrying Georgia by going into halftime with a 7 – 5 lead.

We do know this week we face sixth-ranked Florida in Ben Hill “Peter” Griffin Stadium, which some of you may also know solely as “The Swamp.”

What we may not know is Razorbacks quarterback Feleipe Franks has a love-hate relationship with the Florida fans, and while they will no doubt cheer against his team pulling an upset, there has been discussion on how those in minimal attendance will vocally receive the former Gator who some credit as turning around the program when Florida was struggling to obtain SEC East glory.

Some may also know the Gators faced a Top 5 Georgia Bulldog team last week and somewhat put an unexpected show of confidence and execution on a highly touted Georgia defense.

What some may not know is the Bulldogs were depleted (especially in their secondary) by injury, so there is zero doubt this did impact the final score of the game, but how much?

We know Florida quarterback Kyle Trask is the real deal, and he proved that at some party they held last week Jacksonville.

What we may not know is his tight end Kyle Pitts may not be able to play due to a concussion and whether or not his backup, Kemore Gamble, will be able to fill the role in a capacity which continues to take pressure off Trask.

We know Sam Pittman tested positive for Covid multiple times and will not be in attendance Saturday.

What we don’t know is from where he contracted the virus, although with as much as he interacted with the Tennessee players after the victory on Saturday, my guess is many of those fans donning cardinal and white were immediately worried about the possibility of what has now come to fruition.

If this doesn’t make sense to you, please feel free to ask for clarity. Hint: say hello from a distance. No offense, Coach. We love ya.

Why Arkansas will win:

Feliepe Franks knows this Gator team. He knows their strength and weaknesses. And he knows Treylon Burks.

Kendal Briles has the offense on a roll. Faith is he has them prepared for Florida, but the offensive line may be an exposed weakness against a decent Gator defense.

Barry Odom will assume head coaching duties Saturday. Something tells me he will have the players motivated to play for him as media naysayers have repeatedly given Florida a pass for this week.

Why Florida will win:

Their defense has stepped up as of late, especially on third downs.

Kyle Trask. He’s good. He’s very good. Is he better than Franks – remembering the latter lost his job as QB1 after injury?  The answer may be played out in Gainesville.

Their offense is good at getting first downs, while Arkansas’s defense has struggled as of late getting stops on latter downs, even third and long.

Final Thoughts:

As Andy Hodges mentioned in a recent piece, Arkansas should never mess with their traditional logo. Whether it’s the gator or the retro ‘F’, Florida just needs a new emblem all around.

The Razorbacks will be ready to play. Mark my words … unless I am wrong, then forget I mentioned it.

Apparently some may not know how betting lines work. I had a very, very recent conversation in which I was on the receiving end of the following: “Hey, I read somewhere Arkansas is 6–0 against the spread this year. I thought we had lost three, and I didn’t think Tennessee ran the spread.”

It’s always stated, but we have to establish a strong rushing game.

The word “moxie” is highly overused. So are “dedication”, “loyalty”, and “compassion”, but their actions and expectations should not be.

Next week is Week 12 … hopefully. Especially for me.

Florida is too strong at home, and unless Arkansas can show up with a “win one for the Gipper” attitude, we are most likely going to leave the Sunshine State with an L.

Gators, 27 – 17.

Be certain to listen to the game Saturday at 6:30 p.m. via HitThatLine.com, and on the air at ESPN Arkansas 95.3 in the River Valley, 96.3 in Hot Springs and 104.3 in Harrison-Mountain Home.

SEC Picks for Week 11

I do know Andy seems to have his ducks in a row this season holding a two-game lead. The competition has passed its mid-point, but what he may not realize is this is not over yet.

Vanderbilt at Kentucky: Earlier this season I predicted the Commodores will not win a game all season. Looking at their schedule they still possess three (albeit slight) possibilities of earning a victory. The Wildcats are one of the remaining opponents for which Vanderbilt fans have a glimmer of hope. Sadly, for the Commodores, this game will be played in Lexington. For them and the rest of their season, the question becomes how much pride will the Commodore players will be able to carry out of Kroger Field? Paper or plastic? Kentucky by 12 … or 13.

Arkansas at (6) Florida [GAME OF THE WEEK]: Yes, despite CBS picking up the South Carolina at Ole Miss, this is by far the most interesting match-up this week. Unfortunately it’s still a bit of a mismatch. Gators by 10.

South Carolina at Ole Miss: While both of these 2 – 4 teams had higher expectations coming into this season, neither expected to set the SEC on fire.  CBS has this game, so both programs will get some national exposure to help with their rebuilding. Rebuilding you ask? Ole Miss has their new coach in Lane Kiffin who is trying to build up the program, while South Carolina is in its final days with Will Muschamp, and whomever the future coach of the Gamecocks is, they will have to start a rebuild once the clock hits all zeros in the last game of the season. Homefield is the determining factor. Rebels by 7.

(12) Georgia at Missouri; (5) Texas A&M at Tennessee, (24) Auburn at Mississippi State; and (1) Alabama at LSU are all postponed. My guess is the Volunteers are the most thankful in mid-November.

Last current piece of knowledge: no matter what happens in this game against Florida, at least it feels good to know we have Chad Morris in the rearview mirror.

Find me on ‘Twitter’: @PeterMorganWPS

Go HOGS!!!

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