But few could have imagined how big, particularly if Arkansas is ranked No. 3, as expected, in tonight’s Bowl Championship Series ratings.
If the Razorbacks are ranked third in the BCS ratings, then Friday’s game against BCS No. 1 LSU simply becomes Arkansas’ biggest football game since the 1969 Big Shootout, when No. 1 Texas edged No. 2 Arkansas, 15-14, in Fayetteville.
Thanks to Friday and Saturday’ chaos that saw the BCS’ No. 2, No. 4 and No. 5 teams being upset, the LSU-Arkansas game could be tantamount to a national semifinal game for the Hogs.
Should the Razorbacks defeat the Tigers, who have been installed as a 10.5-point favorite, Arkansas would logically move up to No. 2 in the BCS ratings if not vault Alabama into the No. 1 spot.
Assuming Alabama defeats Auburn in the Iron Bowl on Saturday, the Crimson Tide, Razorbacks and Tigers would tie for the SEC Western Division title, but Alabama would garner the West’s place in the SEC Championship Game against Eastern Division winner Georgia by virtue of the league’s No. 7 tiebreaker.
That tiebreaker throws out the lowest rated team in the BCS standings (in this scenario LSU) and goes to head-to-head competition. Alabama defeated Arkansas, 38-14, on Sept. 24, so Bama heads to Atlanta for a Dec. 3 date with the Bulldogs.
But that would still leave the Razorbacks in the clubhouse, ranked at No. 2 or even No. 1 in the BCS Standings going into Dec. 4’s final BCS ratings. The two teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the final BCS standings play in the national title game.
Obviously, Harris and Coaches poll voters, which make up 2/3 of the BCS ratings, could drop the Hogs out of the No. 2 or No. 1 spot in the final balloting, but that would be truly arbitrary and contrary to all previous voting habits by college football pollsters.
So, Friday’s game with LSU may have very literally become a BCS Championship Game play-in contest for the Razorbacks.
Of course, this whole line of thinking is merely conjecture at this point. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if the BCS ratings had Stanford or Oklahoma State slotted at No. 3 ahead of the Razorbacks, considering how the Hogs have been perceived by the national media since their loss to Alabama.
But, no matter how the BCS ratings shake out this evening, this has become a monumental week for Arkansas, Bobby Petrino and Hog fans everywhere.