It’s been a running joke for more than two years now that Bret Bielema’s Arkansas teams start slowly, as all large things do, before their massive bodies accumulate enough momentum to barrel over opponents.
That could be kind of the case again in 2016, with 2-0 Arkansas currently four points away from being 0-2 in September.
But the Hogs are 2-0 instead, with a win at TCU that could remain impressive by season’s end. This is Arkansas’ best September in a long time.
The records alone over the last two years tell a part of the story. Bielema is 7-3 against Power 5 opponents in November and December, but 3-7 (plus a loss to the MAC’s Toledo) against Power 5 teams in August, September, and October. His first year, 2013, didn’t feature such a stark turnaround in the win-loss column, but his rookie Razorbacks did go from a 52-0 Bama blowout in October to four straight competitive SEC games in November.
Also consider the following, which shows Arkansas’ performance in each month, relative to overall season quality:
This says that, over the last two years, late-season Arkansas has performed about 12 points better than early-season Arkansas.
Arkansas is undefeated (barely, but still) and ranked in September (also barely, but also still), meaning BERTSMAS* CAME EARLY. If trends hold, then the sky is now the limit, and everyone is doomed. If we reset the calculations, based on anticipated Arkansas improvement, then 2016’s NOVEMBERT* should go as follows:
This team is suddenly good at winning close games, exorcising demons in real time, and winning hearts to the cause of large-person football. The schedule only gets tougher overall, but Hogs only get mightier as holiday meals draw nigh.
* In case you’re unfamiliar, #BERT is a Twitter nickname for Bielema. I have no real idea why. People blurt it online whenever he does something especially Bielema, such as beating a team whose entire state he’s offended in the recent past.
A UNC student told an infuriating story, saying she was raped by a football player and saying campus authorities took his side immediately.
The Bill C Numerical, on Tennessee’s ridiculous good luck, Kirby Smart making the wrong kind of Georgia history, and non-SEC things, too!
Marshawn Lynch going mountain-adventuring with Bear Grylls was immaculate TV, and not only because Marshawn opened up. NFL media always failed to realize the key to getting Marshawn to talk about himself is to decorate one’s self in pig blood with him.
Ole Miss is a revenge game for Alabama, whether Bama wants to say that out loud or not. The assistant editor of the Bama student paper:
Fun fact: The Alabama weight room has pictures of Ole Miss players taped on machines.— Terrin Waack (@terrinvictoria) September 12, 2016
Colorado made fun of Saturday opponent Jim Harbaugh by only posting a fake depth chart full of joke names.
Further proving the Buffs ain’t scared, CU’s wearing the same uniform combo it wore when it hit Michigan with a Hail Mary in Ann Arbor.
Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett grew up in Texas, wanting to play against Oklahoma. But he went to the Big Ten. Saturday: problem solved.
The Pac-12’s four California schools all play each other. You can guess which one is currently unhappy with this arrangement, based on program quality at the moment. (Sonny Dykes makes a fair case, though.)
After another player arrest, Mike Leach complains about a local double standard working against athletes. In most college towns, that would sound ridiculous, but many Wazzu players have definitely gotten into trouble for a wide range of ticky-tack stuff over the years. This is a long-simmering dispute that goes beyond Leach, I’m told.
Against Louisville, Florida State will have to contend with not only Lamar Jackson, and not only the squishy power of Papa Johns pizza, but also these shiny helmets.
Addicted to Quack has a come-to-Phil-Knight meeting with Oregon fans who are unhappy about the trajectory of the program. It includes a very good point about 1970s music I’d never considered.
Kirk Ferentz’s contract will be with us for the next decade. Let’s take some time to get to know it.