Favorite

Razorbacks best losers ever 

This was the one. Alabama? Meh. The Tide had just lost to Ole Miss. Georgia? Nope. Texas A&M? Well, it would've been a big one then, but it ended up being even more of a travesty of a loss thanks to the Aggies' pitiful four-game stretch that followed.

No, Arkansas needed to beat Mississippi State. The Hogs absolutely had to conduct a massive book burning at Davis-Wade Stadium on Saturday night, specifically torching the fairy tale that Dak Prescott & Co. had been assiduously scripting from week to week. Sixteen-game conference losing streak dating back to Obama's first term versus sudden ordained Rock of Gibraltar in a swirling sea of inexplicable laydowns and whiffs by others.

This was it. The moment for Arkansas to flip college football on its noggin, get loads of escalating frustration and concern pushed aside, and maybe even move into the by-God polls with a modest 5-4, 1-4 record.

The Hogs were ball-hawking on defense and ball-deflating on offense, just like Bret Bielema wants it to be. The execution in the first half wasn't perfect, but it didn't have to be, because the Bulldogs were just ugly. Arkansas smacked home an early field goal and then got a touchdown run from Alex Collins a few plays after Jamoral Graham botched a punt return. The Hogs were composed, and the Bulldogs were rattled.

That was, however, followed by a quickly efficient return to normalcy for Mississippi State, a scoring drive that made it 10-7, and the Hogs twice failed to take advantage of excellent field position. Brooks Ellis' interception on third down in the waning minute of the first half may have ended up being the decisive play, because the Hogs had little time to engineer any kind of quick-strike offense with only 34 seconds left in the half. Three incompletions and a punt made the enormous turnover amount to nothing, and more or less stemmed all momentum.

After halftime, the old self-inflicted wounds started piling up. A huge unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Drew Morgan took the thrust away from a developing drive. Once the Bulldogs tied it on a field goal afterward, the Razorbacks got a huge burst from Collins to stake themselves in the red zone ... and they backpedaled again thanks to a false-start penalty. That led to a missed field goal, and Mississippi State wasted no time taking the ultimate lead with a 69-yard chuck to Fred Ross for the easiest touchdown in Starkville this year.

Brandon Allen did what he could from there, inasmuch as Arkansas fans will be reticent to give him credit. In the Hogs' final two drives, he was a combined 7 for 15 and a couple of the incompletions were attributable to the receivers. Here again, a team terribly ill-equipped to either protect for more than mere moments or utilize receivers with separation ability or requisite speed did all it could in the face of those limitations. Allen reasonably and properly relied upon Hunter Henry for five big grabs on those last two marches, but ultimately a bewildering fourth-and-goal run by Alex Collins was predictably stuffed and Allen's last toss for Demetrius Wilson in the end zone was underthrown, but also Wilson failed to turn defensive on it, so it was a game-killing pick.

So there it was. Arkansas 10 (the same 10 points it had two hours prior) to Mississippi State's 17. No. 1 stayed that way. The cellar-dwelling Hogs stayed there, too. Ho-hum.

The bulk of this column is a recapitulation of events because at this point it almost belies much more commentary. You have to watch and sadly relive a Hog game now to truly appreciate the sheer amalgam of rotten luck, shabby execution and cruel teasing that goes down from week to week. If you like the films of Darren Aronofsky, oh man, is Arkansas football right in your wheelhouse. Just watch, rejoice in the occasional beauty, and then sit there numbed beyond movement as the credits roll.

I've got a friend who remarked repeatedly early in the season that Arkansas had a chance to be the best 5-7 college football team in history, and hell, at this point he's possibly on target, assuming Arkansas scares up a single SEC victory to hit that mark. The Hogs have suffered mightily for the few really awful episodes, and that serves to mask how by-god determined this bunch is. They've advanced well toward respectability and done and said so many things right.

But it leaves Bielema facing inordinate pressure for the last three games and for the season after, and the Hogs' nagging offensive inconsistencies beg for a reevaluation of Jim Chaney's worth come December. There's too much abundant talent on that side of the ball for a team to get stonewalled after 10 points, or for the offense to sputter like it did in the first half against Georgia after a terrific opening drive.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of...

  • Jeff Long out as University of Arkansas athletic director. Can Bielema be far behind?

    November 15, 2017
    The news at the University of Arkansas isn't about where the Razorbacks play football but who will coach them and who will lead the athletic department.Change is coming. /more/
  • Hogs suspend quarterback Cole Kelley

    November 13, 2017
    Razorback football coach Bret Bielema announced today that quarterback Cole Kelley had been suspended indefinitely following his arrest over the weekend on a DWI charge. /more/
  • UA athletic update: Whatever Jeff Long's future, he has a contract through as late as 2022

    November 10, 2017
    The mysterious University of Arkansas Board of Trustees private session yesterday about athletics at Fayetteville prompted questions about the employment contract of Athletic Director Jeff Long, who's come in for criticism (privately) from several members of the Board. Turns out it runs through 2022, with what amounts to a buyout provision. /more/
  • UA touts athletes' graduation rate; omits SEC ranking

    November 9, 2017
    The University of Arkansas is touting the graduation success rate of its athletes. Missing from the news release: Its last place finish in the SEC. /more/
  • Dead man walking

    November 9, 2017
    This column was in its relative infancy five years ago when the editors astutely branded my column about a shocking Razorback loss to Louisiana-Monroe in Little Rock with the headline "Worst loss ever." /more/
  • Woooooo. Saturday night open line

    November 4, 2017
    The open line. Also: The Razorbacks aren't exactly blowing away a minor opponent in their homecoming football game, perhaps more fuel for fan grumbling about the coach and the athletic director. /more/
  • Turning point?

    November 2, 2017
    The weekend before Halloween seemed like quite the opportune moment for Arkansas's freakish horror show of a season to reach its essential terminus, and Ole Miss, led by a backup transfer quarterback, bolted to a 31-7 lead early in the second quarter. You'd have been foolish to stay awake for the remainder of this 11 a.m. snoozer, right? /more/
  • Bleak in Hogville

    October 26, 2017
    In 2015, Bret Bielema's perilous future as Arkansas's head coach tilted in a favorable way when the Hogs outlasted Auburn in a four-overtime classic at Reynolds Razorback Stadium, setting in motion a strong finish to what was shaping up as a lost season. /more/
  • Thumped again

    October 19, 2017
    Seems like a bad prescription for beating the all-pro assemblage of talent that dons Alabama garb year in, year out, but the Arkansas Razorbacks started their third quarterback in three years against the Crimson Tide, and the end result was predictable. /more/
  • The end is near

    October 12, 2017
    It has fast become gospel around here that if Bielema's staring at a smaller number on the scoreboard as he saunters into the locker room at the midway point of a game, there's no credible reason for Arkansas to take the field for the last 30 minutes of action. /more/
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Beau Wilcox

  • Beaten down

    Not many expected Arkansas to challenge LSU in Baton Rouge over the Veterans Day weekend, but there were enough odd variables in play that might have suggested a dogfight was to ensue.
    • Nov 16, 2017
  • Dead man walking

    This column was in its relative infancy five years ago when the editors astutely branded my column about a shocking Razorback loss to Louisiana-Monroe in Little Rock with the headline "Worst loss ever."
    • Nov 9, 2017
  • Turning point?

    The weekend before Halloween seemed like quite the opportune moment for Arkansas's freakish horror show of a season to reach its essential terminus, and Ole Miss, led by a backup transfer quarterback, bolted to a 31-7 lead early in the second quarter. You'd have been foolish to stay awake for the remainder of this 11 a.m. snoozer, right?
    • Nov 2, 2017
  • More »

Most Shared

Latest in Pearls About Swine

  • Beaten down

    Not many expected Arkansas to challenge LSU in Baton Rouge over the Veterans Day weekend, but there were enough odd variables in play that might have suggested a dogfight was to ensue.
    • Nov 16, 2017
  • Dead man walking

    This column was in its relative infancy five years ago when the editors astutely branded my column about a shocking Razorback loss to Louisiana-Monroe in Little Rock with the headline "Worst loss ever."
    • Nov 9, 2017
  • Turning point?

    The weekend before Halloween seemed like quite the opportune moment for Arkansas's freakish horror show of a season to reach its essential terminus, and Ole Miss, led by a backup transfer quarterback, bolted to a 31-7 lead early in the second quarter. You'd have been foolish to stay awake for the remainder of this 11 a.m. snoozer, right?
    • Nov 2, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

November

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30  

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation