OXFORD, MISS. -- Greetings and salutations from the nicest little town in northern Mississippi (a low bar, admittedly), where everyone's favorite Madison expatriate had his ass handed to him again Saturday afternoon in lovely Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Ole Miss 34, Arkansas 24.
Enjoy the sweet schadenfreude, Badgers fans. Year one of the Bret Bielema era is a smoking disaster across the river in Razorback land. I don't have room here to document all the atrocities, so I'll start with the obvious: Bielema's starting quarterback, sophomore Brandon Allen, does not appear to be the answer.
Unlike Wisconsin's sophomore quarterback, Joel Stave, who's shown steady improvement much of the year, Allen is regressing as the season wears on. The coaches have little trust in his ability to make plays, and Allen has scant confidence in himself. On several occasions Saturday, Allen's first receiving option was covered, and he simply gave up on the play by throwing the ball out of bounds. As we saw with the broken Packers last week, if your quarterback can't make anything happen, your team is going nowhere.
The Hogs don't have the depth to compete this year in the rugged SEC, and Bielema doesn't have enough warm bodies on campus for his type of football. Arkansas has played and lost six conference games, all to teams that have been nationally ranked at some point this season. During one embarrassing stretch, the Razorbacks gave up 111 unanswered points. With his options limited, Bielema has resorted to playing up to five freshmen at a time on offense.
The good news is that the freshmen have talent, but in the meantime the Hogs might be the worst team in the SEC. Last year, interim coach John L. Dad-gum Smith needed only a few months to render the squad a smoldering ruin, and the Hogs managed four wins. This year's edition will not surpass that modest total.