LITTLE ROCK — Craving college football for months, don’t gorge on opening weekend.
Ease back into the routine. Remember the regular season extends past Thanksgiving.
Pick your spots on Thursday and Saturday. Make some points with the spouse on Friday by declaring dinner out is more important than North Carolina State vs. Tennessee. Before leaving the house, mention that Bobby Petrino’s name has been bandied about as a possible successor to Derek Dooley at Tennessee. That might touch a nerve and result in the suggestion that dinner be delivered by the pizza guy. If so, order two pies — nothing like cold pizza to fill the gaps between the sandwiches, chips and dip, veggie platter, and popcorn on Saturday’s menu.
If the plan to eat out is a go, keep the pizza delivery number handy.
For Arkansas fans, there is a valid case to be made for viewing at least four games this week and curiosity in a fifth contest. Taking in all five requires mastery of the remote and a subscription to one secondary network.
First up is South Carolina at Vanderbilt at 6 p.m. Thursday on ESPN. On the Gamecocks’ first possession, check out running back Marcus Lattimore, months removed from major knee surgery. He must be healthy if the Gamecocks are to beat Arkansas and dethrone Georgia in the Eastern Division of the SEC.
Vanderbilt will compete. Last year, James Franklin became the first head coach to get the Commodores into a bowl game in his initial season. Arkansas was fortunate to win in Nashville.
Unless you want to hear Verne Lundquist pontificate on Notre Dame-Navy from Dublin, sleep in on Saturday or spend the morning doing yard work. Otherwise, you will be drained before the kickoffs of meaningful games.
Warm up with Tulsa at Iowa State at 2:30 on Fox Sports Net. Tulsa is Arkansas’ final non-conference game on Nov. 3; Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads is a 45-year-old who has taken the Cyclones to two bowl games in three years and who has experience in the SEC. His name comes up often when Arkansas’ search for a new coach is the topic.
After the half, invest in a late-afternoon nap. Dividends will be welcome.
Auburn-Clemson is on ESPN at 6 p.m., opposite the pay per view of Arkansas-Jacksonville State.
Auburn will be better when Arkansas visits in early October after Kiehl Frazier of Springdale becomes more comfortable at quarterback. No. 14 in the preseason poll, Clemson will be a threat in the Atlantic Coast Conference if new coordinator Brent Venables can improve a defense that gave up 30 points or more seven times last year.
If picture in picture is available, 7 p.m. is the time to make use with Alabama-Michigan on ABC side by side with Auburn-Clemson. Gone from the Alabama defense are all three linebackers, three defensive backs, and a defensive tackle. Watching their replacements try to corral quarterback Denard Robinson should be educational. Even though Robinson is not a talented passer, his completion percentage will be acceptable because his ability to scramble will free up some receivers. Projecting Alabama’s defense from this outing is difficult because Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson is more of a pocket passer.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke says Alabama’s offensive line is as good as he has ever seen in college. The group may look even better against a Michigan front that has one returning starter. Arkansas is much more experienced on the defensive front.
Cashing in on the 4:30 p.m. snooze, stay tuned to ESPN for Arkansas State University at Oregon. Check how ASU coach Gus Malzahn — another staple on the Arkansas coaching list — handles adversity. ESPN analyst Mark May suggested Malzahn should consider resting his starters, much like NFL teams in the preseason, because of Oregon’s superiority.
An intriguing weekend, the first of many.
Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.