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2-0 

If you tuned in to ESPN Saturday night or settled into your seats at Fort Worth's compact but energetic Amon Carter Stadium, you undoubtedly felt like the impending Arkansas-TCU tilt was going to be compelling, if for no other reason because it pitted a burgeoning Big 12 power against a rising SEC program, with both having that Southwest Conference badging that went dormant a quarter-century ago.

What you probably did not expect is that the most bizarre face-off of the first two weeks of major college football would ensue thereafter. Thusly, this recap should hopefully do it proud:

Arkansas was outgained in the first half, but Cole Hedlund punched through two field goals to theoretically build his confidence and Brooks Ellis made a nifty pick of Kenny Hill's third-and-23 toss en route to an easy pick-six for a 13-0 halftime lead. TCU was last shut out in a first half only two games before that, 31-0 to Oregon in the Alamo Bowl, which of course...

Ended up with the Horned Frogs making a historic comeback to win, which may help to explain why Arkansas, still assertively in charge with a 20-7 lead in the fourth quarter, started to feel the Pucker Effect almost immediately after Rawleigh Williams broke a long run to get the Hogs set up with first-and-goal from the Frogs' 2. From there...

An apparent Razorbreakdown hit high gear. Bad execution by the Hogs left Hedlund with a 22-yarder, and thanks to a high snap, the maligned sophomore kicker smacked the gimme off the right upright. The Frogs were born anew, and showed it, blistering down the field not once, not twice, but three times for scores while suffocating the Hogs' offense to the point of being utterly punchless. Hill cushioned TCU's narrow lead by scampering into the end zone with 2:05 left for a 28-20 advantage, but ...

Hill's costly post-score penalty — the long-unforgivable throat slashing gesture — helped stake the Hogs to solid field position after the kickoff. Quarterback Austin Allen got four clean snaps and pockets in succession, and made the most of them all. The last strike was to senior Keon Hatcher in the end zone, and suddenly Arkansas was back within 28-26 and needing two to tie, which ...

Came by way of Hatcher and Allen again, but not conventionally. Pinpoint execution of a double reverse had Hatcher rolling to the left — who knew that was his dominant hand! — and lofting a perfect toss to Allen near the sideline. The 28-28 tie seemed short-lived, though, because ...

TCU very nearly broke it three times over the final seconds. First, the kickoff return by the electric KaVontae Turpin nearly did the trick by itself. Then, Hill spotted Emanuel Porter streaking toward the end zone and nailed the leaping receiver for a seeming six, but that was waved off because Porter had brushed the sideline shortly out of his route, making the catch illegal contact by rule. Undaunted, TCU drove to the Hog 10, and had a chance to make the Hogs pay permanently for shanking their short field goal if Ryan Graf could stick one in. Naturally ...

Graf booted it firm but low, and Dan Skipper was among a cadre of the longest Hogs on the block team. Skipper got his fourth career kick block easily, sending the game to overtime.

The teams traded touchdown throws in the first OT, with Allen finding Jimmy Sprinkle and Hill delivering to Taj Williams, before the gassed Arkansas defense summoned three great snaps successively to hold the Frogs to Graf's field goal. This one was true, but Arkansas had one more bit of third-down magic left to deploy, and ...

Allen kept his legs churning on third-and-goal from the 5, taking the designed run right behind Colton Jackson and Jake Raulerson, both of whom had been having forgettable games, and through TCU's front for the winning score.

Exhausting, huh? For the second time in 10 months, an Arkansas team went into hostile territory against a Top 20 foe, lost its grip on the game only to restore it late, and then left the fate of the game on the legs — rather than the right arm — of an Allen brother near the goal line. Against Ole Miss, Brandon memorably surged across the plane on a two-point try, and in this one, his younger bro established his crunch-time grit in only his second career start.

What it all means now is that even in the shakiest of fashions and narrowest of margins, Arkansas is 2-0 and back in the rankings with a presumptive cakewalk against FCS member Texas State looming this weekend. If all goes to plan, these gutty and wildly unpredictable Hogs may find their SEC opener in Arlington against Texas A&M being the most pivotal matchup in Week 4. And they'll have Skipper's big mitt, Allen's iron will, and Hatcher's left hand to thank for it.

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More by Beau Wilcox

  • Woeful

    On Thanksgiving night, Bret Bielema could settle into his bed knowing that after a rather miserable 2013 inauguration, he had slipped comfortably into his job and the results were bearing some small but edible fruits for this ravenous fan base. He was only 25-24, but 18-10 with two bowl wins over his last 28 contests, a smattering of takedowns of ranked teams, and a stabilized roster that showed off the staff's endeavors to enlist and develop a caliber of player that would lead to better days ahead in a rugged conference.
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • Williams shines

    Alternating wins and losses has been the pattern behavior of Arkansas's 2016 season as it draws to its terminus. So after the Hogs gave their most listless and disappointing home effort in a good while against LSU, why wouldn't they just explode all over the cowbell-clanging din in Starkville the next time out?
    • Nov 24, 2016
  • Deflated

    Foolish consistency, per Emerson, is the hobgoblin of little minds. What commentary he would've offered about the Arkansas Razorbacks' 10 weeks of wild inconsistency is for debate, but he might've been more profane than pithy if he had to sit through this madness.
    • Nov 17, 2016
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Latest in Pearls About Swine

  • Woeful

    On Thanksgiving night, Bret Bielema could settle into his bed knowing that after a rather miserable 2013 inauguration, he had slipped comfortably into his job and the results were bearing some small but edible fruits for this ravenous fan base. He was only 25-24, but 18-10 with two bowl wins over his last 28 contests, a smattering of takedowns of ranked teams, and a stabilized roster that showed off the staff's endeavors to enlist and develop a caliber of player that would lead to better days ahead in a rugged conference.
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • Williams shines

    Alternating wins and losses has been the pattern behavior of Arkansas's 2016 season as it draws to its terminus. So after the Hogs gave their most listless and disappointing home effort in a good while against LSU, why wouldn't they just explode all over the cowbell-clanging din in Starkville the next time out?
    • Nov 24, 2016
  • Deflated

    Foolish consistency, per Emerson, is the hobgoblin of little minds. What commentary he would've offered about the Arkansas Razorbacks' 10 weeks of wild inconsistency is for debate, but he might've been more profane than pithy if he had to sit through this madness.
    • Nov 17, 2016
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