Matchup with Tide sets early tone for Hogs’ SEC schedule

Editor’s Note: The Arkansas Razorbacks will face one of the toughest football schedules in the nation in 2008. The sports staff of the Northwest Arkansas Times ranked Arkansas’12 upcoming games from least important to most important based on fan fervor, storylines and the effect a win or loss would have on the Razorbacks’season. This is the Hogs’second most important game and part 11 of a 12-part series profiling the Razorbacks’2008 opponents.

Alabama’s Nick Saban and Arkansas’ Bobby Petrino took similar paths to their respective SEC powerhouses.
Both were successful college coaches who took on the challenge of the NFL. Both left their struggling pro teams after short stays. Both arrived at their new SEC jobs under harsh media scrutiny.
Both paths will cross Sept. 20 at Razorback Stadium when Saban’s Tide meet Petrino’s Hogs in what has become a huge early season SEC matchup for both teams. The 2007 season started well for the Crimson Tide, but losses in their last four regular-season games led to a 7-6 finish. Saban, the nation’s highest paid coach, will be expected to squeeze at least another win or two out of this year’s team. Both Saban and Petrino have been dealing with discipline problems this offseason, especially at the linebacker position. Both coaching staffs have player personnel and discipline issues to address before their league-opening matchup on Sept. 20. The good news for the Hogs is that this year’s game is in Fayetteville. The home team has won four straight games of the series.