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What If Series: The Battle For The State Of Arkansas

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I am using a highly scientific method to determine which team has dibs on proclaiming itself the king/queen of the state of Bill Clinton.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 season crowned the Ohio State Buckeyes in the first ever College Football Playoff or, as I like to call them, a non-SEC team.

It's not a secret that the BCS era served to fully and further enhance SEC fanboys' sense of self-worth. And because we don't believe that a man should ever, like Icarus, soar so high that he could touch the sun, for fear that he may get burned, then we believe the tough pill the SEC had to swallow in the inaugural CFP served a greater good.

Still, the sentiment prevails that the SEC is a great conference. What if there was a way to test this?

Enter the Arkansas State Red Wolves, they of the #FunBelt hype and smack in the middle of SEC country. Surely, Blake Anderson's squad could never equal or, gasp, surpass what the Arkansas Razorbacks have accomplished in the #realfootball conference, right?

As a reminder, here are the rules for this What If series:

-Each team had to be simmed to their in-state companions as close as possible.

-All simulations were conducted using What If Sports' Sim-Matchup.

-You can only use the first simulation as the official simulation, no matter how silly it may seem.

If Arkansas Had A-State's Schedule

Autowin against the FCS. The computers don't let us simulate games against FCS teams, so let's give Arkansas a win against Montana State.

In lieu of this actual game happening in real life last season, we get this simulation. Apparently, we missed nothing last season.

No shame in this one, Arkansas. The Hurricanes have a notable and worthy home field advantage, after all.

Arkansas sees your overtime win, Arkansas State, and scoffs at it. Real men don't play overtime football.

Woah, 56 points? Against the Sun Belt team with the kinda-good defense? The Razorbacks might have actually been good in 2014. 

Then again, this says more about Georgia State's futility in 2014 than the Razorbacks.

In light of this entirely simulated season, the Red Wolves have to feel a little better about last season and its howl falling flat. Time heals all wounds, and so do computers.

Anyone would beat the Vandals; don't be so proud of this one.

Whereas A-State imploded amid injuries and inability to tackle opposing runners at the end of the last season, Arkansas is only picking up steam here.

Yes, thank you for avenging the sad end to the dream of last season, Arkansas.

Never put yourself in the way of a razorback with a head of steam.

Forty-five points is nice, but the 68 that Fredi Knighten and co. hung on the Aggies are even better.

GoDaddy Bowl:

Not that A-State particularly loves you, Arkansas, but it does appreciate you avenging its ugly bowl loss.

Conclusion:

The Razorbacks are a powerhouse and finish the year with an 11-2 record that would have propelled to a much nicer place than the GoDaddy Bowl Game—but is their record due to the quality of their team or the lack of quality in the Sun Belt Conference? The next section will help us answer this question.

If A-State Had Arkansas's Schedule

It's not like Arkansas fared much better in real life in this game.

Autowin against the FCS. If the Razorbacks could handle Nicholls State, then so could have the Red Wolves.

Crazy things happen all the time in Lubbock, Texas.

Nothing I say here could top the box score of this instant classic. Five OT's! FIVE!! A classic case of #FunBelt alright.

One tough loss does not a season make.

Is that what they mean when they say "Roll Tide"?

Good job, Good effort guys. 

Let's continue.

Let it be known that Arkansas State takes no pleasure with this win considering the mess that would have been unfolding at UAB only a few months afterward.

Losing against a man named Dak, even one as physically imposing as the Bulldogs' Dak Prescott, has to sting.

I thought the open week before this simulated game would help the Red Wolves. I was wrong.

I personally am scared of Robert Nkemdiche and co., so I can't really complain here.

No worries, the 2015 Red Wolves will avenge this simulated result.

AdvoCare Texas Bowl:

Despite the pain and the misery, A-State still goes bowling. And Texas is still Texas.

Conclusion:

In this scenario, the already shaky GoDaddy Bowl team of last season turns into a cellar-dweller, one with a 4-8 record and no wins in SEC play. It takes a big man to admit that he is wrong when he is wrong, and I am said big man. According to this exercise at least, the might of the big, bad SEC prevails: the closest Arkansas State comes to winning an SEC game is a boring 12-7 loss at Missouri. Ugh.

But Alabama is still New Mexico State.

Read the rest of this series here.