Pardon my Dickens, but this is the biggest of games; it is the most routine of games.
The crowds and buzz around Fayetteville are huge. I don’t just mean along the sidewalks leading from the student gate at Reynolds Razorback Stadium. And that buzz is the Goodyear blimp overhead.
As I type, I can hear a spontaneous Hog Call from the student camp just outside my office in Barnhill Arena. Traffic is congested. Hotels are packed. Restaurants and other establishments will be fire-code limit full, tonight and tomorrow.
Yep, the SEC has come to town.
Sure, Arkansas hosts No. 1 Alabama in the first top 10 matchup since Jimmy Carter was President. On many levels, this is a big game. It is not the first time No. 1 came to town. Won’t be the last either. This is exactly what we signed on for back in 1991 — and when you’re talented in the SEC, the circus comes to town every week.
CBS afternoon telecast? Check. Extra hype in the national media? Check. Special events like calling for all fans to wear their best Razorback Red? Check.
At the same time, Coach Bobby Petrino set the tone on the first day of this week. We heard it over and over in the press conferences: we need to play Razorback football, we need to execute the plans that are in place, we don’t need to do something special.
Just play Razorback football.
He could not be more on the mark. Ryan Mallett said the same thing during his national teleconference on Monday.
Uh, national teleconference? That can’t be every week. It is for the elite teams, and in its own way, becomes part of the routine.
Certainly, hundreds of students camping out for the first seats has not been the routine at Arkansas — at least starting on Monday of game week. Students were camping for those front row seats for Tennessee Tech, but it started later in the week. They will be camping for the front row at the Razorbacks next game, too. A win tomorrow makes that day much earlier in the week, of course.
For the fans, embrace and enjoy the hype. Understand, the team is maintaining their even strain.
It’s the biggest of games. It’s just another game.
OF TAILGATES AND TENTS: Reminders all week about the new policies for tailgating, but this week did draw more attention to them. Same for the guidelines for the students regarding camping.
LEAVE YOUR HOUSE EARLY AND PLAN TO STAY LATE: OK, Coach Petrino and the team may see this as just another game, but the fans need to prepare for more traffic, parking lots filling up faster and more congestion around Fayetteville. We recommend you add a little extra time to your routine.
SORRY, NO TWITTIX TODAY: Regrettably. Look for them next game with Ole Miss in Fayetteville.
ONLINE THIS WEEK: If you missed any of the fun because you were away from Fayetteville, the new media division had several video pieces: visiting with fans at Bobby Petrino’s radio show on Wednesday, about the tent city at the start, how it looked this morning and about John Pelphrey’s pizza delivery last night. We anticipate a package about tonight’s pep rally as well.
If you missed out, click on the links.
LIVE BLOG AGAIN TODAY: Join me from the media area at sold out Reynolds Razorback Stadium beginning at 12:30 p.m. central. Numbers were great from Georgia, but with this game not streaming via ESPN3 (remember, it’s a CBS Sports telecast) we’ll be welcoming lots of people back.
SILVER WINGS: Third time looks to be the charm for the U.S. Army’s Silver Wings. Weather was trouble twice last year for the paratroopers, but we have a clear forecast for tomorrow as they will jump in the game ball.