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It was a dark and stormy night, and the Kentucky Wildcats were run over by a Razorback.
First of all, I'm sorry for not being able to do the postmortem more timely, but by the time the game was finally called due to lightning, it was late, and amid my tired disappointment, I was simply unable to muster any coherent thoughts about the game. Now that I've slept, I feel competent to write something useful.
Second, we must congratulate the Arkansas Razorbacks, a team which had, through a combination of injuries and bad luck, lulled us into believing just maybe they had imploded upon themselves and would be vulnerable to an upset. Anyone who watched this game now knows how misguided that thinking was. Arkansas looked like a different football team than the one that got crushed by Texas A&M two weeks ago. Last night, they looked very much like the kind of team who could wind up in the top 25, and against Kentucky, at least, they regained their swagger.
Fortunately for Kentucky, this game was called with just over 5 minutes left in the third quarter. It was well over and done in the first half, when Arkansas decided to do its best Oklahoma Sooners imitation and move the ball down the field as if unopposed. The first play from scrimmage was a 74 yard touchdown, and the Hogs would score touchdowns on almost every other possession they had in the first thirty minutes. It was nearly perfect offensive football by Arkansas. Kentucky made errors, to be sure, but honestly, Arkansas was just on last night.
Let's go through the obligatory laundry list of negatives: The defensive line put zero pressure on Tyler Wilson, who just threw perfect spiral after perfect spiral to receivers who had seemingly hours to get open. The defensive backfield gave 10-yard cushions to the Arkansas receivers, a level of respect that simply didn't seem justified given how well Kentucky covered many of the deep balls, allowing their receivers to catch passes in space and gouge the defense for big yardage. The offense could not move the ball, and forced the defense to spend the entire half on the field, an all-to-familiar situation this year. I could go on and on, but why? Let's just leave it here, and have mercy.
Positives are hard to find in this game. I suppose the biggest one is that the team refused to mail it in, despite their mammoth deficit. They continued to play hard and that's difficult to do in the face of so much negative. At this point in the season, I feel like I'm cheering the team because they actually take the field as much as anything else. I cannot imagine how hard this must be on them, and the coaching staff, who surely want to win but simply cannot cobble together a team out of the spare parts and greenhorns that are the current state of the Wildcats.
I have run out of anger and frustration. All that is left is morbid curiosity -- I'm watching and writing about these games as a matter of school pride, but also literally because I cannot look away from chain-reaction pile-up that is this football season. You know you have reached the end when you become little more than a voyeur of catastrophe, sitting back in a kind of awe at the wreckage as it mounts before your eyes. Now I know how some of these SEC basketball teams, like Auburn and South Carolina must feel at times.
Next, we get to welcome the Georgia Bulldogs into town for what is likely to be a similar result. Voyeur of catastrophe, indeed.
Is there any good in this? I have no idea. There is the old saying, "It's always darkest just before the dawn." The problem is, how can you tell how dark it really is when it's too dark to see? Are we "just before the dawn," or just shy of the stroke of midnight?
The answers to those existential questions must come in their own time. I have none for you here.