ARLINGTON, Texas ― Round 1:
Aaron Roy on 679 Tremors vs. Mike Lee on 64S Flirtin' With Disaster:
Roy had Tremors in Baltimore about a year ago and took him only 3.22 seconds, but this is a bull that just about everyone here is capable of riding. He's fast and has a lot of action, but because he bucks with great timing, he's been pretty vulnerable to the top-tier riders.
Lee has nodded for Flirtin' With Disaster three times, and has made the whistle twice. He was rewarded a re-ride once, and the other time he was 88 points. The last time they met was in 2011, and since the end of the 2011 season, Disaster is 20-2 overall. There's a chance we could see two qualified rides in this match, and there's a chance it may not go nearly that well.
Jordan Hupp on 164 Great White vs. Nathan Schaper on 81
Mick E Mouse:
This may be the toughest pair of bulls to ride in the opening round on either side of the bracket. Great White has been ridden just once, and long ago. Mick E Mouse is decidedly unlike his namesake. He's doesn't play. He's unridden in 10 career outs, and in eight Built Ford Tough Series appearances, he's never received a bull score of less than 44 points. Both of these bulls have recorded a lot of quick buckoffs, and one of these guys will have to grind out an above-average effort on a tough bull to win this match.
Sean Willingham on 1423 Wipeout vs. Luke Snyder on 786 Hot Iron:
These are both right-handed guys, and both of these bulls have recently been ridden by other right-handed riders. Agnaldo Cardozo rode Wipeout in Round 1 in Anaheim, Calif., a few weeks back, but Willingham had him in Round 3 and came down at 4.78 seconds. Wipeout likes to spin to the right, but he's a little empty - meaning he gets in the air, but lacks kick. The difficulty in this type of bull is both in staying forward and staying close to the bull rope. And keeping upper body weight forward is something Willingham has struggled with at times. Truthfully, it's something every rider struggles with.
Hot Iron was also ridden in Anaheim, by Marco Eguchi. His bucking style is similar to Wipeout's, but he's a little faster, spends less time in the air and likes to spin to the left. He looks welly, which means he wants to throw the rider to the inside of the spin. Typically, a bull spinning away from a rider's hand is a disadvantage, but on a welly bull, it's not much of a disadvantage.
Agnaldo Cardozo on 59 Whiskey's Rebel vs. Cody Nance on
630 Pale Face:
I think Cardozo has a bit of an edge here. Whiskey's Rebel blows out of the chute with a few big leaps that can be hard to get by, but after that, he's very rideable. He's been ridden in four of his last five outs.
Paleface is going to spin to the right pretty hard as soon as they open the gate, and that will be away from Nance's riding hand. Paleface is 12-0 against left-handed riders. He's been ridden twice recently, but before Eguchi rode him in St. Louis, he had an unridden streak that stretched all the way back to the summer of 2009.
Guilherme Marchi on 530 Grey Squirrel vs. ? on 521 Who
Grey Squirrel has been a little bit of a rider favorite since he first became a regular on the Built Ford Tough Series back in 2011. He usually gets picked very high in draft rounds, most likely because he's a small bull that spins. But here are the facts: cute little Grey Squirrel has numbers that rank him among the 20 most difficult bulls in PBR history. He's 71-6 in his career, 37-0 against right-handed riders and 24-2 against the top riders. He's more than enough bull to send Marchi packing, but then again, Marchi is more than a match for any bull.
Who Dat is the better bull to have in this match, and both guys who could land on him have ridden him before. Roy covered Who Dat back in 2010, and Lee rode him in two of three meetings in 2011 and 2012.
Robson Palermo on 23S Stretch Armstrong vs. ? on 842
I think that a completely healthy Palermo would be almost a lock to win this event. He rides every different kind of bull better than anyone else does, and his only real weakness as a rider is injuries. He should be favored on this bull, but they did meet in Denver in January, and Palermo came off in 4.01 seconds. In a previous meeting back in 2009, he did make the whistle.
Hou's Back only has 10 outs on his record, and Renato Nunes is the only man who has ridden him. Hupp is 0-for-2 against him. He went to the left with Nunes in Anaheim, but he also backed out of the chute there. He's a solid bull that bucks hard, and he's very well-matched with Stretch Armstrong. Whether Hupp or Schaper end up here, they're going to have to outride Palermo on nearly the same bull, which is a tall order for anyone.
L.J. Jenkins on 868 Jack Daniel's After Party vs. ? on
620 Blonde Bomber:
Jenkins faced After Party in Uncasville, Conn., last season and came down in 3.61 seconds. After Party does tend to produce a lot of quick buckoffs, but he does it by going to the right, which will be into Jenkins' hand. You can watch bull riding for a long time and not see a bull that turns back quite as hard as this one does. He'll make a full round before two seconds ticks off the clock. If Jenkins can weather the initial storm, he's likely to get to the whistle.
Blonde Bomber is definitely more suitable for right-handed riders, and both Willingham and Snyder are righties. Snyder won a long round on him in Pueblo, Colo., last season.
Marco Eguchi on 850 Teflon Tom vs. ? on 6220
Eguchi may be in trouble here. Teflon Tom is unridden, and he's very strong. He's put down most of his challengers in under 4 seconds.
On the other side of the match, RFD-HD is also a pretty tough bull to ride, but he has been ridden a couple of times this season. Cody Nance, who could end up on him here, rode him in Winston-Salem, N.C. in January.
691 Meat Hook vs. 540 King Lopez:
These two bulls have very similar numbers, but Meat Hook is probably the better of the two to have here. King Lopez has some forward movement that Meat Hook doesn't, and that can make a big difference.
924B Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey vs. L704 David's
David's Dream is an extremely hard bull to ride, but whoever lands on him here does have an edge in this match, because whoever lands on Tennessee Honey will be right-handed. Honey doesn't like righties. All three riders in his bracket have been on him before. Snyder is probably best suited to make some time on him, because he's had him three times.
656 New Holland Power Star vs. 718 Lightmaker's
These are the two highest-marked bulls in the PBR this season that already have at least five outs. I think whoever lands on Lightmaker's Rango has a slight advantage, because it's not uncommon for guys to get him started pretty well.
We haven't seen Asteroid since Anaheim, and we haven't seen him go head-to-head with Bushwacker this season. Asteroid isn't as large as Bushwacker, and doesn't possess the same kind of sheer power, but he makes up for it with speed. He's perfectly capable of bucking riders off just as quick as Bushwacker, and as we've seen in the past, he's capable of outscoring Bushwacker, as well.
Follow Slade Long on Twitter @ProBullStats.
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