I've been following football for a lot of years and I can't think of a weekend that has been as aggravating as this one.
Why? My three favorite teams from the NFL, college and high school all played like garbage and got beaten. That's right, the Benton Panthers, Arkansas Razorbacks and Denver Broncos all lost. To make matters worse, that rotten former head coach for the Razorbacks led Ole Miss to a victory over #4 Florida.
It's enough to make a man swear off football for the rest of the season.
Well, probably not. Actually, definitely not.
Still, the whole thing was a mess so I'll sort through my pain and disappointment, day by day.
Friday, Sept. 26 -- Panthers fail
My beloved Benton Panthers headed to Pine Bluff to take on the Zebras. Yes, the Panthers were coming off a victory against the Conway Wampus Cats the previous week and hopes were high they'd pull off a win in their first game of conference play this season.
So, they spent the week preparing themselves for the trip to Pine Bluff by practicing hard, adjusting to wearing bullet proof vests under their pads and taking daily penicillin shots. All of that preparation was for naught as the Panthers failed, 43-25.
Honestly, Pine Bluff has a very good team this year and Benton was expected to lose. Still, Benton's first three games of the season were against 7A teams and the fact that the Panthers pulled off a victory against one of those teams and played well against another inspired some hope.
Benton, see, is a 6A school and the Panthers were holding their own against teams in the larger 7A classification. Ah, but Pine Bluff proved to be too much for the Panthers, dropping the team's record to a lowly 1-3 for the season. That's no damn good at all.
Why does The Hawg follow a high school team? I live in Benton and graduated from that school, as did my parents and my brother. Friday night football is a big deal here in the South and I'm as guilty as anyone of being a bit obsessive about it. So there.
Saturday, Sept. 27 -- Hogs still awful
No one expected the Arkansas Razorbacks to do much against the Texas Longhorns. That's a good thing because the Hogs failed miserably. Back in the old South West Conference days, the Arkansas-Texas game was the biggest one of the year for us Arkansans, and watching the team head to Austin and take a 52-10 whipping was hard for us long time fans.
That stomping, by the way, was the worst one Arkansas has taken at the hands of Texas since 1916 when the Longhorns slaughtered the Hogs 52-0. This year's contest was supposed to take place a couple of weeks ago but was delayed because a hurricane was ravaging Texas. I'm sure Razorbacks fans agree with me that the game should have stayed delayed. Like, indefinitely.
Arkansas has shown some hope in it's running game over the past few games, but Michael Smith was shut down. Alex Tejada struggled in the kicking game and quarterback Casey Dick still looks like a newcomer trying to come to grips with that new-fangled forward pass.
The Hogs got whipped last week by Alabama and have only beaten two rotten, scrubby teams this year -- Western Illinois and Louisiana-Monroe. I doubt things will get much better when Florida comes to town next week.
Yes, Florida is mad because they lost to Ole Miss on Saturday and will be out for revenge. Ole Miss, by the way, is led by Houston Nutt, the dirty bastard that used to coach Arkansas and left the Hogs with very little for current Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino to work with.
Nutt did his typical thing -- he lost to Vanderbilt one week and then beat a far superior Florida team the next. Of course, Florida helped things by turning the ball over to Ole Miss every chance they got. It is good to see Nutt engaging in his typical behavior -- raising hopes just to dash them -- at a school other than Arkansas, however.
Arkansas will be fine once Petrino can get some of his players in here and get his system in place. Regardless, Arkansas is 2-2 (0-1 in the SEC) and things may well get worse. After Saturday's game, I have yet another reason to regret my decision to get a law degree at the University of Arkansas rather than heading to Vanderbilt to get a master's in political science (yes, I could have gotten in there) and heading to the University of Texas to get a doctorate. Stupid, stupid, stupid The Hawg.
Buckle up, Hogs fans. This year's shaping up to be a miserable one.
Sunday, Sept. 28 -- first loss for Broncos
So, the Panthers lost on Friday and the Razorbacks failed miserably on Saturday, but certainly the Denver Broncos at 3-0 would whip the lowly, 0-3 Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, right? As it turns out, that was absolutely wrong.
While Kansas City was on a 12-game losing streak, they always play Denver tough at home and Mike Shanahan, Denver's head coach, entered Arrowhead Stadium with a 3-10 record there. Denver and Kansas City might not hate each other as much as, say, Denver and Oakland, but there's still a strong rivalry there and Kansas City played like it.
The Chiefs shut down the Broncos' running game and Denver quarterback Jay Cutler threw two interceptions, to boot. Oh, and the Broncos managed to fumble twice on Sunday, too.
In the end, Denver (AFC West) lost 19-33 and fell to 3-1 on the season. I can't help but think of that game as an anomaly as the Broncos came into Kansas City averaging 38 points per game and were leading the NFL in first downs. They'll be fine but they looked terrible on Sunday. The Broncos play Tampa Bay next week, so here's hoping they'll be back on track by then.
Denver has always had a hard time in Arrowhead and Sunday was no exception.