Arkansas’ stunning 34-31 loss to Louisiana-Monroe changed the conversation from anything to do with top-ranked Alabama’s 35-0 ho-hummer against Western Kentucky earlier in the day.
Auburn message boards suddenly ceased a day-long meltdown over the Tigers’ 28-10 loss at Mississippi State, and everyone tuned in to meltdowns on Arkansas boards.
Even Jacksonville State fans celebrating the Gamecocks’ dramatic, 27-24 victory over Chattanooga were double-taking. How, now, to view their encouraging showing a week prior at Arkansas?
Thanks to the ULM-Arkansas game — shall we call it “OMG In the Ozarks?” — Alabama and Auburn fans must recalculate how to coming attractions. Both will soon play Arkansas, which just took the second-largest fall out of the Associated Press poll.
Alabama plays at Arkansas this week.
Auburn plays host to ULM this week.
Fans around here might have initially laughed at the thought of Hog fans pining for the sight of Bobby Petrino riding into Razorback Stadium on a Harley.
Fans around here might have initially joked about the “L” in John L. Smith.
In the end, all were left to ponder how Saturday’s big upset affects their favorite teams.
Alabama: Ranting anew
Oh, can’t you hear Nick Saban’s rant this week?
A week after he lit up state media for not showing Alabama’s next opponent proper respect, national media are trashing this week’s opponent.
Let’s see if we can peg how Saban might say it:
“There you people go again, presuming that because a Sun Belt team beat these guys that we’re gonna be playing a bunch of guys in the second half.
“Did it ever occur that maybe Louisiana-Monroe is better than everyone thought, a’ight?
“Now do you see what can happen when you don’t approach each week as a chance to improve as a football team, no matter your opponent?
“Not that I have any knowledge that Arkansas was looking past those guys, a’ight, but you see what can happen, and a team dropping all the way from the No. 8 team in the country to unranked after one game? A game where that team lost its starting quarterback halfway through?
“It’s you all hijacking the game again, and now you’ve completely devalued a game everyone was pointing to. That does a disservice to Arkansas, it does a disservice to us, and it does a disservice to college football.
“Now, any damned questions?”
Auburn: Two ways to see it
Auburn fans looking for positives after the Tigers’ dismal showing at Mississippi State and 0-2 start got a mixed bag from ULM’s upset.
Suddenly, now-unranked Arkansas looks more beatable for that Oct. 6 game in Auburn.
Then again, that game against ULM this week could make jumpers out of Auburn fans already on the ledge.
OK, we don’t want jumpers, so we’ll keep it positive here.
If Auburn beats ULM on Saturday, then there’s suddenly more reason to draw encouragement from it. It goes from a means-nothing victory to a, dunno, maybe-means-something victory?
ULM’s upset of Arkansas also adds attraction to Auburn’s game. Neither team is ranked, but ESPN will want highlights of the Warhawks, who got everyone’s attention with an upset of Arkansas.
Those highlights could show Auburn restoring order.
Also, Auburn officials sure don’t want lots of empty seats in the home opener, a distinct possibility after the Tigers’ start. Good thing the team coming to town just went from mid-major to a bunch of rock stars.
And if Auburn loses Saturday, well, Tigers fans can just remind water cooler rivals about a game in 2007 … if they haven’t already.
JSU: Things adding up
ULM poured ice water on positives JSU fans took from the Gamecocks scoring 24 points and leading early at Arkansas on Sept. 1, but they should stay encouraged.
The Warhawks are a Football Bowl Subdivision team. JSU wants to be an FBS team but still resides in Football Championship Subdivision, with 22 fewer scholarships allowed.
Also, JSU played against a healthy Wilson. He played only a half against ULM before leaving the game with an apparent concussion.
This past week, we saw then-No. 24 JSU lose suspended running back Washaun Ealey but come out strong against Chattanooga.
We saw JSU lose a 24-10 lead, adding to a disturbing trend of lost leads in recent years, but then we saw Gabriel Chambers’ kickoff return, Marques Ivory’s three straight completions to drive the Gamecocks into position and Griffin Thomas’ game-winning field goal.
We saw two JSU running backs fill in nicely for Ealey. DeMarcus James and Troymaine Pope each rushed for better than 100 yards.
All in all, JSU’s two non-conference games to open the season add up to encouraging signs headed into an open date then Ohio Valley Conference play.