One moment is all it takes. One moment to fall from the next great thing back to the middle of the pack.
That moment happened when Bobby Petrino crashed his motorcycle and his world started to unravel.
Soon after the sordid details emerged, Petrino was removed from his position as the head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks and the program has been trying to find its way since.
You see, Arkansas was good and getting better. Sure, the Razorbacks didn’t make an SEC Championship Game under Petrino (they don’t typically fare well in those contests anyway), but they had improved from five wins to eight to 10 to 11. Then Petrino got himself fired and the wheels fell off. John L. Smith was a disaster of a replacement for a season and now we get the man who won at Wisconsin, but never quite won enough -- Bret Bielema. It's a good thing this isn’t the SEC we’re talking about and Arkansas doesn’t have to go up against the Alabamas and LSUs and Floridas and Georgias of the world.
So what do the Florida Gators face on Saturday? Well, they face a team that started 3-0. But before you get all “WOO PIG SOOIE!!!” about it, let’s take a deeper dive into that 3-0. Those teams that Arkansas defeated have combined for exactly two wins against FBS opponents (with one coming over Georgia State who is new to FBS this season).
The Florida Gators on the other hand ... what’s that? The wins the teams we’ve beaten can claim aren’t all that impressive either? We’re still breaking in a new quarterback that wasn't supposed to be playing that much at all? We’ve lost one of our best defensive players for the season? Hmm. So maybe this isn’t going to be the slaughter at The Swamp that I was hoping for. OK, back to the drawing board ...
Let’s look at that new quarterback thing and the reason the Gators will win on Saturday. That new quarterback is Tyler Murphy and he has quickly become a hero to all of Gator Nation. Murphy is in his fourth year in the Florida program. Not much was ever expected out of him and he'd tell you he liked it that way. He had opportunities to transfer, but where else would he go? Some schools, like that one he's about to face, just don't offer what the University of Florida does. So Murphy stayed and his opportunity came at the expense of Jeff Driskel's leg.
Since being thrust into the limelight, Murphy is 2-0 (OK, technically he’s only 1-0 as a starter), is completing nearly 72 percent of his passes, has a passer efficiency rating of 162.4, and is averaging 7.1 yards per carry on the ground. Most important to Gator fans everywhere, he makes decisions quickly.
And, oh yeah, we love him.
So why will the Gators win? Because of Tyler Murphy. You don’t knock the little guy down so quickly. The Cinderella story isn't quite over. He gets to ride the wave a little longer. Eventually, he could lose a game as he may prove to be human after all, but not on Saturday and not to Arkansas. The Razorbacks started their slide with a loss to Rutgers. The Gators will deliver the third loss in a row and South Carolina and Alabama will keep the pain coming. Arkansas doesn’t get to turn the trend against Florida and Tyler Murphy’s story doesn’t end just yet. It’s The Swamp, it's a QB living a dream, it's a on the back of that great story against one sliding down the hill. Anything can happen on Saturdays, but sometimes that anything is easy to predict.
Random Positive Note About Arkansas That Probably Isn’t Actually All That Positive: The Razorbacks have a great rushing offense. They had a great rushing offense heading into the 2006 SEC Championship Game too.