Pig Roast: Arkansas’ 10 most heartbreaking football games

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In light of the Razorbacks’ current season, which began with great expectations but has been derailed yet again by a grueling SEC schedule, it seems appropriate to reflect on past seasons when the flicker of championship glory was brutally extinguished.

There’s a lot of heartbreak in this list. Better grab some tissues.

10. 1998 — The Stoernover

After five years with Danny Ford at the helm, Arkansas severed ties with its head coach and brought in Houston Nutt. An Arkansas native and former Razorback, Nutt was handed a veteran squad, and the season couldn’t have started any better.

The Hogs roared out of the gate to an 8-0 start, rolling No. 22 Alabama in the SEC opener and winning three straight road games. No. 11 Arkansas then breezed past Ole Miss to set up a monumental showdown against No. 1 Tennessee in Knoxville.

Now ranked No. 10, Arkansas jumped on the Vols early, leading 21-3 in the first half. But Tennessee clawed back to pull within two — 24-22 — with about three minutes remaining. The Hogs tried to run out the clock, but disaster struck when quarterback Clint Stoerner tripped over his lineman’s foot and fumbled the ball. Tennessee recovered and scored the winning touchdown five plays later.

Still, Arkansas wasn’t out of the national title hunt. The Hogs actually moved up in the rankings after losing to Tennessee, improving to No. 9. But a week later the shell shocked Razorbacks were upended 22-21 by Mississippi State on a dubious field goal.

Tennessee, meanwhile, went on to win the first BCS National Championship.

9. 1979 — New Year’s Day Debacle

The Razorbacks were in a peculiar position at the end of the ’79 season. Although the Hogs lost their bowl game to the eventual national champion, it’s plausible that had Arkansas prevailed, it still wouldn’t have finished No. 1.

The season in a nutshell: Despite beating Texas for the first time in eight years and reaching as high as No. 4 in the polls, Arkansas’ title hopes were derailed by No. 6 Houston. Later in the season Texas knocked off Houston, but both the Cougars and Hogs finished 7-1 to share the SWC title.

No. 6 Arkansas was invited to the Sugar Bowl while Houston went to the Cotton Bowl. The Hogs were paired with No. 2 Alabama. The Crimson Tide, SEC champions and undefeated at 11-0, steamrolled Arkansas 24-9 to win their seventh and final championship under legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.

Although Houston won the 1980 Cotton Bowl, the Cougars had dropped a few spots — to No. 8 — entering the bowl game. Already ahead in the polls, Arkansas further benefited when No. 1 Ohio State lost in the Rose Bowl.

But that victory came thanks to No. 2 Southern California. Meanwhile, No. 5 Oklahoma topped No. 4 Florida State in the Orange Bowl.

So, it’s safe to assume even if the Hogs managed to upset Alabama, the best they could hope for was a top 5 finish in the polls.

Plus, even if Alabama lost, the Tide probably would just claim the 1979 title anyway.

8. 1988 — Help Wanted

By the late 1980s, the SWC was still recovering from SMU’s pay-for-play scandal that destroyed the Mustangs’ football program. Arkansas, although 10-0 with wins over Ole Miss, Texas and Houston — the latter two victories coming on the road — was ranked No. 8 heading into the season finale against No. 3 Miami.

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CBS laid out a convoluted path to the national championship for Arkansas.

As noted by Arkansas Fight, the SWC’s sordid reputation and a distaste for smashmouth football among the national media possibly contributed to the Hogs’ low ranking:

“[Sports Illustrated] paints a dismal picture of the ’88 Hogs, focusing on their performance in the Arkansas-Texas A&M game that … ‘was about as pretty to look at as the snarling wild pig emblem that decorates gas stations and convenience stores all across Arkansas'”

Heading into the game with Miami, Arkansas also was looking to avenge its 51-7 shellacking from the Hurricanes the year before in Little Rock. But to win the national title, Arkansas would need loads of help from other teams and the media, as CBS pointed out in its pre-game show.

Down in the Orange Bowl for the ’88 contest, the two teams traded blows until late in the second half, when Arkansas safety Steve Atwater came within a hair of making a game-clinching interception.

Miami settled for a field goal, but that was enough to edge the Hogs 18-15. While a win over Miami wouldn’t have guaranteed Arkansas a national title, it would’ve tipped the scales in the Razorbacks’ favor. But losing to Troy Aikman and No. 9 UCLA in the Cotton Bowl didn’t help, either.

7. 1977 — “The national championship is up for grabs!”

In some people’s eyes, the 1977 Arkansas Razorbacks were national champions.

For most of Arkansas’ tenure in the SWC, the Razorbacks’ biggest hurdle each year was Texas. The 1977 season wouldn’t be any different.

After a perplexing 5-5-1 finish in ’76, Arkansas rebounded in ’77 with a stellar cast that included future NFL Hall of Fame inductee Dan Hampton. The Hogs were 4-0 and ranked No. 8 when No. 2 Texas rolled into Fayetteville.

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Arkansas’ Roland Sales (21) rushed for a then-record 205 yards in the Orange Bowl.

A match-up of two undefeated teams, the game was a defensive slugfest. Early scores hinged on field goals, which included a then-record 67-yard make from Arkansas’ Steve Little.

But Texas’ backbreaking, 80-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter sealed a 13-9 Longhorns victory.

Arkansas won the rest of its games and finished second in the SWC, earning an invite to the Orange Bowl. Texas, meanwhile, won the SWC and earned a trip to the Cotton Bowl.

Down in Miami, Arkansas blasted No. 2 Oklahoma 31-6. Earlier, in Dallas, the Longhorns were whipped 38-10 by Joe Montana and No. 5 Notre Dame. If the Sooners won, they could have a shot at a national title.

But thanks to an upset in the Rose Bowl and a lopsided win by Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, there wouldn’t be a clear national champion. Despite division within the AP and UPI polls, Notre Dame received a majority of No. 1 votes. Today, the Fighting Irish are widely recognized as the national champions of 1977.

Still, it’s worth noting that Alabama and Arkansas also received a share of No. 1 votes — with the Hogs tallying 5 1/2 votes in the AP poll and two votes in the UPI poll.

6. 1982 — “Damn Texas refs”

Under six-year head coach Lou Holtz, the Hogs were ranked No. 13 in the 1982 preseason and climbed to No. 5 after a 7-0 start. Arkansas was upset Nov. 6 by Baylor, but crept back into the top 10 after drubbing Texas A&M 35-0 in Little Rock.

Up next for the No. 9 Hogs was a trip to Dallas to face No. 2 SMU. The Mustangs were undefeated and had a chance to win the SWC that afternoon in Texas Stadium.

Led by Billy Ray Smith, Jr., Arkansas’ defense slowed the vaunted “Pony Express,” and the Hogs were nursing a 17-10 lead late in the fourth quarter.

With just over four minutes remaining, SMU faced a third-and-long. Short on time, Mustangs quarterback Lance McIlhenny dropped back and hurled a prayer downfield to receiver Jackie Wilson.

The rest is sordid history — to Hogs fans, at least.

Nathan Jones, Arkansas’ sophomore defensive back, was whistled for pass interference despite the ball being overthrown and Wilson climbing up Jones’ back.

The penalty awarded the Mustangs a 40-yard gain, putting SMU in the red zone.

SMU scored a few plays later on McIlhenny’s scramble, held Arkansas on defense, and missed a kick in the final seconds to preserve the tie.

The 17-17 stalemate clinched the SWC for SMU and secured the Mustangs a Cotton Bowl berth, where they beat Dan Marino and No. 6 Pittsburgh.

Now ranked No. 6, Arkansas followed the loss to SMU with a 33-7 whipping from No. 12 Texas. The Hogs limped to the Bluebonnet Bowl just weeks removed from being in the hunt for a national title.

But Razorbacks fans got some pretty cool bumper stickers out of the fiasco.

5. 2006 — “The lost year”

Houston Nutt’s most successful season also was his most tumultuous.

The season seemed like a lost cause from the outset, when star running back Darren McFadden injured his toe in a drunken night club brawl in Little Rock.

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Houston Nutt was hired as Arkansas’ head coach in 1998. Over the next eight years, he moonlighted as the offensive coordinator.

Meanwhile, Gus Malzahn had been hired as offensive coordinator. A legend in the Arkansas high school ranks, Malzahn brought with him a handful of his elite players, including former Springdale quarterback Mitch Mustain, the 2005 Gatorade National Player of the Year.

Malzahn’s offensive scheme — described as a “before-its-time, no-huddle spread offense” — immediately clashed with Nutt’s conservative philosophy.

The rift deepened thanks to a brewing quarterback controversy between Mustain and starter Casey Dick, and Nutt’s reluctance to give up play-calling duties — something he oversaw during his previous eight years at Arkansas.

Oh, and then there was Nutt’s alleged extra-marital affair with a local TV anchor. Can’t forget Mustain’s overbearing mother, either.

Anyways, Arkansas got smoked in the season opener against No. 6 USC, but reeled off 10 straight wins. McFadden emerged as a Heisman candidate, and his two teammates in the backfield — Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis — became stars in their own right.

The Hogs were ranked No. 5 and had already clinched the SEC West when No. 9 LSU came to War Memorial Stadium for first top 10 matchup in the history of the rivalry.

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Despite a record-setting career at Springdale High School, quarterback Mitch Mustain and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn couldn’t replicate their success at Arkansas.

LSU won 31-26 thanks to a flurry of big plays and questionable offensive play-calling from Arkansas.

From there, the Hogs went to Atlanta to play No. 4 Florida in the SEC Championship Game, where they blew a four-point lead late in the third quarter. The back-breaker came when Arkansas receiver Reggie Fish tried to field a punt near the Hogs’ goal line, muffed the ball, and Florida recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown.

The Hogs capped the season with a heartbreaking loss to No. 6 Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl.

4. 1970 — “Shootout fizzles”

The 1970 Razorbacks got off to an auspicious start. Arkansas was one of several schools to take advantage of a new NCAA rule allowing teams to schedule an 11th game. Other high-profile regular season matchups that year included LSU-Notre Dame, USC-Alabama and UCLA-Texas.

Arkansas vs. Texas, 1970

Arkansas’ powerful running game was smothered by a stingy Texas defense.

But as the New York Times noted, “the national spotlight will be at Little Rock, where Arkansas opposes Stanford” on national TV.

No. 10 Stanford jumped on the Hogs early, taking a 21-0 lead in the first quarter. Arkansas, ranked No. 4, rallied but fell short in the second half, as Stanford won 34-28.

Still, Arkansas returned a talented, senior-laden roster. The Razorbacks followed the loss by dismantling Oklahoma State and Tulsa, then ran roughshod through the SWC. After thumping No. 19 Texas Tech in Lubbock, the Hogs were back in the top 5 and heading to Austin for a showdown against No. 1 Texas.

It was the Big Shootout all over again: The winner of the 1970 contest would clinch the SWC and possibly a share of the national title. The Waco Tribune-Herald succinctly captured Arkansas’ pre-game misery:

“Last year’s tears, suffered on that cold, dismal day in Fayetteville have lingered for an entire season.”

But Arkansas wouldn’t exact revenge for ’69. And there was no dramatic finish — or much excitement at all — as the Longhorns skewered the Hogs 42-7.

3. 2011 — Bayou Beatdown

Despite being thumped by Alabama earlier in the year, the Hogs were within arms reach of the title game at the end of the 2011 season.

Thanks to a bevy of upsets and the Razorbacks’ “thrashing” of Mississippi State, the Battle for the Golden Boot became a top 5 match-up with massive postseason implications. Arkansas had jumped in the polls from No. 6 to No. 3 — the Hogs’ highest ranking since 1978 — while LSU and Alabama held the top two spots, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Arkansas-LSU rivalry had emerged on the national stage. Six of the previous seven games were decided by an average of 3.5 points.

After a scoreless first quarter in Death Valley, Arkansas appeared in control, bolting to a 14-0 lead. But the Tigers responded with a 77-yard scoring drive, held the Hogs on defense, and then returned the punt 92 yards for a touchdown.

The rout was on from there. LSU rolled to a 41-17 win, outscoring Arkansas 41-3 down the stretch.

2. 1969 — Game of the Century

What wasn’t at stake on Dec. 6, 1969?

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Arkansas’ defense — best in the SWC in terms of points allowed — forced six Texas turnovers.

For Arkansas and Texas, it was the final regular-season game of the 100th anniversary of college football. The winner would claim the SWC title, a berth in the Cotton Bowl — a potential national championship game.

Despite dreary conditions, Razorback Stadium was filled to capacity, while 58 million watched on TV.

The annual match-up between the Longhorns and Razorbacks functioned as a one-game referendum on a budding rivalry, a fact that was overlooked amidst all the chaos surrounding the game.

Texas was Arkansas’ most hated opponent, but the feeling wasn’t mutual. Still, Arkansas and Texas shared or won the SWC eight times in the 1960s. The average margin of victory between the two teams in their previous nine meetings was a paltry seven points.

By ’69, outsiders had taken notice. What was later coined The Big Shootout originated from the foresight of TV executives, who lobbied Arkansas and Texas to move their usual October meeting to December for the final game of the season.

The gamble paid off: the Longhorns and Hogs entered the game undefeated — ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively — and ABC had the ratings bonanza it hoped for.

Even the weather played along with the melodrama:

“[T]he day took on an eerie feeling. The night before, a steady, cold rain fell in Fayetteville and an icy fog hovered over the stadium as the crowd awaited the arrival of President Richard Nixon, who would award a plaque symbolic of the National Championship to the winner.”

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Texas quarterback James Street’s 42-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter was a seminal moment in The Big Shootout.

Arkansas fans know well the heartbreak of the game. The Hogs looked unstoppable early, but blew a 14-0 lead and lost 15-14 to the hated Longhorns. Texas celebrated in the locker room with Nixon, who presented a plaque to the Longhorns and declared them national champions.

Texas went on to defeat Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl to finish 11-0. Alongside, Ohio State and Nebraska, the Longhorns were named national champions by the National Football Foundation and UPI. The Hogs went to the Sugar Bowl, but were upset by Archie Manning and Ole Miss.

While the loss caused acute pain for Razorbacks fans, the long-term ramifications wouldn’t be fully realized until the 1980s.

Before Frank Broyles arrived, Arkansas was second-fiddle not only to Texas, but most of the SWC. That all changed in the 1960s. By the end of the decade, Arkansas had established a program to rival Texas. Losing the Big Shootout loomed over the program for the next few seasons, while Texas prospered.

The Longhorns opened the 1970s by winning four straight conference titles and dominated Arkansas as the rivalry reverted to a one-sided affair. Arkansas beat Texas just twice in the decade (’71 and ’79), losing eight times by an average of 25 points.

1. 1965 — “It had to end sometime”

The last time Arkansas was on the cusp of a national title, the Hogs were riding a 22-game win streak, ranked No. 2 in the country and facing an over-matched LSU team in the Cotton Bowl.

LSU’s 14-7 upset over No. 2 Arkansas in the 1966 Cotton Bowl kept the Hogs from winning consecutive national titles.

LSU’s 14-7 upset over No. 2 Arkansas in the 1966 Cotton Bowl kept the Hogs from winning consecutive national titles.

But the Razorbacks were undone by their own hubris and a feisty Tigers squad.

As Sports Illustrated noted before the game, Broyles knew his team souldn’t overlook LSU:

“A lady whose intention undoubtedly was kind wove through the balloons and paper hats at the Cotton Bowl New Year’s Eve party and clutched the arm of Arkansas Coach Frank Broyles. ‘Frank,’ she said, ‘you have nothing to worry about tomorrow,’ meaning the Razorbacks were certain to beat Louisiana State for their 23rd straight win. ‘Lady,’ said Broyles, ‘that is exactly what worries me.'”

Arkansas went up 7-0 in the opening quarter, the only score of the period. But the Hogs couldn’t contain LSU’s bruising running back, Joe Labruzzo. He scored both of the Tigers’ touchdowns and captured MVP honors.

Neither team scored in the second half and Arkansas’ last-second rally was extinguished when the clock ran out.

Thanks to losses by No. 1 Michigan State and No. 2 Nebraska, LSU’s victory inadvertently vaulted No. 4 Alabama to the national title. Arkansas finished at No. 3.

Had Arkansas won, the Razorbacks would’ve not only had a strong case for being known as “the team of the ’60s,” but the ’64 and ’65 squads would be regarded as two of the all-time best.

Honorable Mention

A total of six points kept Arkansas from an undefeated regular season in 1985.

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After a strong finish in ’77, Sports Illustrated ranked Arkansas as the No. 1 team heading into the 1978 season.

The Razorbacks opened the season 5-0 and were ranked No. 4 when an underachieving Texas squad came to Fayetteville on Oct. 19. Arkansas scored first and kept the Longhorns out of the end zone — but succumbed 15-13 thanks to five Texas field goals.

Roughly three weeks later, the SWC title was up for grabs when No. 9 Arkansas traveled to College Station. Texas A&M pulled the upset, 10-6.

Arkansas rebounded with a thrilling victory in the Holiday Bowl.

Just seven years earlier, Arkansas graced the cover of Sports Illustrated as the magazine’s No. 1 team entering the 1978 season. The Hogs also were blessed with a No. 2 ranking from the Associated Press.

The Hogs picked up where they left off from ’77, but consecutive losses to No. 8 Texas and No. 11 Houston spoiled Arkansas’ championship aspirations.

100 Things I Hate About College Football

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Editor’s note — This article was originally written for Yahoo! Voices in September 2013. It has been reprinted here with the author’s permission.

Gene Wojciechowski’s ode to college football is a great read. The only problem is that it’s written as a love letter; he was (mis)guided by his emotions.

And don’t get me wrong, I love college football.

But let’s be realistic about this. While Wojciechowski does point out that college football has its shortcomings, simply giving them a passing mention isn’t enough.

As the Summer of Manziel has shown, it’s astonishing how college football has weathered so many scandals without serious blemish. The players and even the sport itself seem practically untouchable.

So why would someone who claims to be a fan find so many reasons to hate a sport they care so deeply about?

In hopes of fixing it, of course.

Wojciechowski got a lot of things right in his article. College football is an awesomely inspirational sport that’s uniquely American.

But it’s time to stop looking at it through rose-colored lenses.

Why? Here are 100 reasons.

1. I hate universities that make football a priority over education.

2. That in my home state of Arkansas, the football coach makes more than the medical school’s Chief of Surgery.

3. I hate the over-commercialization of the game.

4. Naming rights.

5. That places like TCF Bank Stadium and Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium exist.

6. Fields with corporate stains on them.

7. The sheer number of bowl games. We’re up to 35 and counting.

8. 6-6 teams qualifying for a bowl.

9. And that nearly all the bowl games have names that sound like advertising slogans.

10. I hate that winning the Heisman Trophy has become a beauty contest.

11. Tim Tebow finishing as a Heisman finalist in 2008, while Graham Harrell missed the cut.

12. The stigma toward defensive players. If Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh couldn’t win one, what hope is there?

13. The fact that there are 125 schools competing in the FBS this year and no player outside of the Power Six has a chance to win the Heisman.

14. Stadium expansion while the rest of campus crumbles.

15. And the belief that having a bigger stadium equates having a better team.

16. Houston Nutt. We put up with this guy for a decade. How?

17. I hate pay-for-play proponents.

18. Writers who claim the NCAA treats [football] players like slaves.

19. Senior seasons. And the stigma that comes with it. Because in today’s game it usually means the player has no football prospects after college. Either that, or he’s a reserve.

20. The players who don’t care about the tradition or the pageantry of college football.

21. Knowing that they wouldn’t stick around campus any longer than they already have to.

22. I hate the BCS. Even now that it’s gone. I hate, hate, hate it.

23. Remember in 2003, when Oklahoma lost in the Big 12 Championship Game but still got to play in the BCS Championship Game?

24. Or when the Sooners got in again the next year instead of Auburn, and got thrashed by USC?

25. An inept and out of touch NCAA.

26. That high-profile schools and players often escape harsh punishments.

27. Terrell Pryor, Dan Herron, DeVier Posey, Mike Adams, and Solomon Thomas playing in the 2011 Sugar Bowl.

28. Also, we are two years removed from the Nevin Shapiro scandal at Miami (Fla.). Remember that? I guess a handful of suspensions was enough to satisfy the NCAA.

29. People who feel sorry for Joe Paterno and Penn State.

30. That for a few months, the fate of Penn State’s football program and Joe Paterno’s legacy was more talked about than Jerry Sandusky’s victims.

31. I hate that the Southwest Conference, one of college football’s premier leagues for more than 80 years, collapsed.

32. And the domino effect of conference realignment that it started.

33. West Virginia being in the Big 12.

34. Syracuse moving to the ACC.

35. Missouri joining the SEC instead of Florida State or Clemson.

36. The idea of Connecticut, South Florida, and Tulsa all being in the same conference.

37. I hate that most teams schedule an absolute dog on homecoming.

38. The fact that Florida hasn’t played an out of conference opponent on the road in nearly 25 years.

39. Indiana being a football-member of the Big 10.

40. That schools have cut down on playing in neutral site locations across their state.

41. Alabama and Auburn moving the Iron Bowl out of Legion Field.

42. Ole Miss and Mississippi State moving the Egg Bowl away from Jackson, Miss.

43. I hate the kitschy announcers.

44. Gary Danielson and Verne Lundquist.

45. Pam Ward.

46. Brent Musberger.

47. Bob Griese.

48. This guy.

49. Can’t forget Mark May and Lou Holtz, either.

50. I hate that the Oklahoma-Texas game changed its name to the “Red River Rivalry.”

51. That Arkansas and Arkansas State won’t play each other.

52. The SEC crackdown on cowbells at Mississippi State games.

53. Boise State’s “Smurf Turf.”

54. Eastern Washington’s red turf.

55. The University of Central Arkansas’ alternating purple and gray turf.

56. I hate the ridiculous number of terrible uniform combinations.

The Maryland Terrapins have got to be the worst offenders.

57. People who think Bedlam is a premiere rivalry game. C’mon, Oklahoma holds an 75-17-7 all-time advantage. The Sooners only lost one game between 1967 and 1994.

58. AP writers who give No. 1 votes to undeserving teams.

59. The terrible officials that permeate every conference.

60. The terrible officiating that seems to haunt every big Arkansas game.

61. I hate how ESPN only gives intense coverage to the established programs.

62. The completely undeserved hype a high-profile program gets if it starts the season 2-0.

(Looking at you, 2009 Miami Hurricanes.)

63. And remember when good coaches used to stay at one school for an extended amount of time?

64. I hate that fans are dissuaded from storming the field.

65. That it happens too often now.

66. And that you might get arrested if you do it.

67. Oh, and the SEC will levy a serious fine against your school as well.

68. I hate that a pizza and a coke at Razorback stadium costs more than $20.

69. That Arkansas made student tickets harder to get.

70. Let’s not forget, they also stopped guaranteeing students seats.

71. And U of A’s eagerness to build a new practice facility while the campus runs out of space for its students.

72. I hate the “facilities arms races.”

73. Which happen while a majority of college students and athletes of less popular sports wallow in debt that will haunt them the rest of their lives. (Marble floors imported from Italy, are you kidding me?)

74. The people who believe football players “go pro” in something outside the world of football.

75. The people who believe a majority of college football players are “student athletes.”

76. And people who think the football players live in a dorm and eat in a cafeteria similar to anything like that of a normal student.

77. That students are forced to move their cars from student lots before game day and have to pay out of pocket to park it somewhere else. (Often far from their dorms.)

78. That Matt Leinart got to play one more season at USC because he took Ball Room Dancing as his only class.

79. Athletes who get free (expensive) textbooks and sell them back at a profit.

80. That Arkansas’ beautiful video replay board has most of its picture obscured by AT&T ads.

81. I hate how football players are treated differently than their fellow student athletes.

82. When authorities look the other way when a member of the football team is involved in a quagmire.

83. Case in point: Michael Dyer.

84. Coaches who get a slap on the wrist.

85. Jim Tressle at Ohio State.

86. And that Tressel actually believed Pryor’s promise that he would return for his senior season.

87. The rap sheet for Urban Meyer’s players.

88. And many (Leach), many others.

89. The depressing notion that steroids might have infiltrated the college game.

90. I hate that the Arkansas-Texas rivalry is dead.

91. And the Hogs will no longer play LSU at the end of the season.

92. Instead we’ll play Missouri. The Hogs have played the Tigers five times. Five. Now it replaces the LSU game. Yippee.

93. Even though I won’t miss LSU’s Les Miles mispronouncing Arkansas.

94. This pass interference call against Arkansas in the 2010 Florida game.

95. That Bobby Petrino will coach a major Division I team again.

96. The fact that the immortal Bear Bryant (an Arkansas native) potentially was taking a job in Fayetteville when World War II broke out.

97. Coaches who abandon their schools because of an oncoming scandal. (Looking at you, Pete Carroll and Chip Kelly).

98. Razorback fans who think winning a national title makes or breaks the season. (We’ve only appeared in three SEC Championship Games since leaving the SWC in 1991)

99. That tons of scholarships go to football, leaving the rest of the athletic programs to fight over the scraps.

100. And lastly, I hate that there are so many egregious problems with a sport I love so dearly.

The Top 10 Arkansas-LSU Football Games

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Bleacher Report’s article ranking the top 10 best games of the Arkansas-LSU rivalry barely scratched the surface. To be fair, though, BR was only recounting games in the Battle for the Golden Boot era, a “tradition” that began in 1996.

The rivalry actually dates back to the early 1900s. The Hogs and Tigers first squared off in 1901, when LSU thumped Arkansas 15-0. Despite the underwhelming contest, it ignited an annual battle that spanned the next three decades.

Below are Enter the Razorback’s top 10 most memorable games between the neighboring states:

10. Establishing the Golden Boot — LSU 17, Arkansas 7

The Associated Press

Kevin Faulk, left, rushed for over 4,000 yards and scored 46 touchdowns during his four years at LSU.

By the mid-90s, Arkansas was slowly finding its niche in the SEC. The Hogs were fresh off of their first SEC Championship Game appearance in ’95 and seemed primed to become a formidable program in the conference.

Beating the Tigers in the inaugural Battle of the Golden Boot would have been a great way to build the momentum. But LSU had other plans.

Since joining the SEC, the Hogs were 2-2 against the Tigers. LSU was suddenly in the unfamiliar position of being the underdog in a conference rivalry. Adding to its woes, the Hogs were winning handily at Tiger Stadium. And since the decades old rivalry finally had some hardware to legitimize it, the Tigers were ready to add it to their trophy case.

Behind Kevin Faulk’s 138 yards, LSU overcame four turnovers to down the Hogs at War Memorial Stadium.

The Tigers opened the game with a dominating first quarter, outscoring the Hogs 14-0. Neither team managed a score in the second period, but LSU added to its sizable lead on a field goal late in the third quarter to take a commanding 17-0 lead.

Despite intercepting LSU’s Herb Tyler twice and recovering two fumbles, Arkansas’ offense never managed to convert the turnovers into points. The Hogs lone touchdown came late in the third quarter when running back Chrys Chukwuma slipped into the end zone from three yards out.

9. Tigers hold off Hogs — LSU 17, Arkansas 15


Hogs fans are still kicking Chris Balseiro for this one.

Wrapping up what would be another dismal 4-7 season under Houston Nutt, Arkansas entered its annual matchup with LSU in 2005 on a surprising two-game win streak. The Tigers, meanwhile, were ranked No. 3 in the country and gunning for their third SEC West title in five years.

LSU was a heavy favorite. And the Tigers probably thought they could win easily even if they left their second string in. But that’s where you’ve got to give Nutt some credit as a coach — he was an excellent motivator. And that “rah-rah” attitude was exemplified by the ’05 Battle for the Golden Boot.

Trailing 19-3 late in the third quarter, Arkansas rallied to pull within 19-17 at the start of the fourth period. Running back Darren McFadden carried the offensive burden, scoring the team’s only touchdown. But two missed field goals from Balseiro — one from 28 yards — doomed the Hogs.

8. Undefeated in The Rock no longer — LSU 55, Arkansas 24


Nick Saban says he doesn’t like to run up the score. But Hog fans know better.

Back-to-back 52-point thrashings will make you doubt his philosophy.

After the inception of the Golden Boot in 1996, the trophy changed hands on almost a yearly basis. And the Hogs could usually count on a win in Little Rock. During Nutt’s tenure, the Razorbacks rarely lost in the capital city, and they were perfect against LSU in War Memorial Stadium between 1997-2002.

That streak came to an abrupt end in 2003.

No. 3 LSU steamrolled Arkansas 55-24 en route to winning a national championship. The 32-point thrashing was the largest disparity since the 1929 contest. It was also the Tigers’ second largest margin of victory in the series.

The Razorbacks managed to keep it close in the early going, with the first quarter ending in a 10-10 tie. But in the second quarter, LSU exploded for 24 points to take a commanding 34-10 lead. The Tigers continued the offensive onslaught in the second half, scoring three more touchdowns. LSU’s resounding win also started a streak of four straight victories over the Hogs.

7. LSU survives in overtime — LSU 33, Arkansas 30


For the briefest of moments in November 2009, Razorback fans could finally say that the Battle for the Golden Boot meant as much to LSU as it did to Arkansas.

With Hogs kicker Alex Tejada lining up for a potential game-tying field goal in overtime, LSU’s players linked arms on the sidelines. They huddled together, some watching the game while others had their head down. A similiar situation was unfolding on the Hogs’ sideline.

It was a defining moment in the rivalry.

Prior to Tejada’s theatrics, LSU safety Chad Jones leveled Arkansas receiver Joe Adams with a bone-jarring hit. The frightening collision stopped play for nearly 10 minutes while CBS treated viewers to an array of replays. As brutal as the hit was on Adams, it was Jones who took the brunt of the blow, knocking himself out of the game. The penalty gave the Hogs a second shot at the end zone, too, and they responded with a touchdown to take a 30-27 lead.

However, the Tigers stormed back to tie the game on a long field goal with four seconds left in regulation. Holding LSU to a field goal on its first possession in overtime, the Hogs only needed a chip shot of their own to force a second overtime. But Tejada’s kick was wide, and the Razorback faithful were crushed.

The ’09 match-up was especially noteworthy as a barometer for how competitive the series had become. It was the fifth game in five years that the outcome was decided by five or less points.

6. The Miracle on Markham — Arkansas 21, LSU 20


After Arkansas departed the Southwest Conference for the SEC in 1992, the Little Rock games lost some of their luster. For more than 50 years, War Memorial Stadium was the pivotal site for many of the Hogs’ biggest games. But by 2000, the stadium hadn’t hosted a meaningful game in nearly two decades.

That all changed when LSU came to town in 2002.

The winner of that year’s Battle for the Golden Boot would clinch the SEC West Division, automatically earning a spot in the SEC Championship Game.

For the first half, though, Arkansas played like it didn’t want to make the trip to Atlanta. No. 18 LSU dominated from the outset, shutting out the Hogs in the first half and taking a 17-7 lead into the third quarter.

Arkansas running back Fred Talley helped sway the momentum with a 56-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, cutting LSU’s lead to 17-14. However, the Tigers responded with a field goal to go up 20-17.

With time ticking away, Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones put together his best drive of the game. Jones hit Richard Smith for a 50-yard gain, then bought some time in the pocket before threading a pass through LSU’s secondary to find Decori Birmingham in the back of the end zone. The Hogs converted the extra point to pull ahead 21-20, and held LSU on defense to secure the miracle victory.

Incredibly, Jones’ final two passes — which covered a total of 81 yards and culminated in a touchdown — where only his third and fourth completions of the game.

5. Battle of top 5 teams — LSU 31, Arkansas 26


After more than seven decades of football, the LSU-Arkansas game finally got its first top 10 matchup in 2006.

No. 5 Arkansas entered the afternoon on a 10-game win streak, and the Razorbacks were guaranteed a spot in the SEC Championship Game regardless of the outcome. The Tigers, ranked ninth, were looking for to release some pent-up frustration after critical losses had derailed the their hopes for a national championship run.

The 2006 Battle for the Golden Boot was an exciting contest, punctuated by big plays from both teams. Once again, McFadden was the highlight for Arkansas, scoring on an 80-yard touchdown run that went right through the heart of LSU’s defense.

While McFadden’s touchdown pulled the Hogs to within 24-19 in the fourth quarter, Trindon Holliday responded with a breathtaking 92-yard kickoff return to put LSU up 31-19. The Hogs added a late score to cut the deficit to five, but simply ran out of time.

4. Gridlocked in Dallas — Arkansas 0, LSU 0

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Snow and ice didn’t keep fans in Dallas from missing the 1947 Cotton Bowl.

The first postseason matchup between the longtime rivals, the 1947 Cotton Bowl was marred by a freak ice storm that paralyzed Dallas the week of the game. Despite hazardous conditions, nearly 40,000 fans still showed up to watch two top 10 teams slug it out.

The No. 9 Tigers entered the game with a sterling record of 9-1. Their only loss was against SEC rival Georgia Tech. Meanwhile, No. 10 Arkansas limped in at 6-3-1, with inexplicable losses to Tulsa and Ole Miss. But the Hogs had rebounded late in the year with back-to-back wins over SWC foes Texas A&M and No. 5 Rice to salvage the season.

LSU dominated (stastically) for most of the afternoon. Led by future NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle, the Tigers out-gained the Hogs 271-54 in total yardage and accumulated 14 more first downs than Arkansas. But poor field conditions coupled with a stout Razorback defense — which had shut out four opponents during the regular season — thwarted several Tigers drives that reached the red zone.

Battling to a 0-0 standstill through nearly four quarters, the Tigers found themselves in possession of the ball with just a handful of minutes remaining in the game.  Desperate for a score, Tittle flung a long pass to receiver Jeff Adams, who broke free near midfield and looked destined for the end zone. But Arkansas’ Clyde Scott tackled Adams near goal line with just a handful of seconds left in the game.

Now in field goal range, the Tigers decided to send out their kicking unit. But true to form, Arkansas’ defense rose to the occasion, blocking the kick as time expired to preserve the tie.

3. The Miracle on Markham II — Arkansas 31, LSU 30


No quarterback in Arkansas’ history overcame more adversity than Casey Dick.

Recruited by Nutt, Dick was benched early in his sophomore season in favor of Arkansas Golden Boy Mitch Mustain.

Forced to watch from the sidelines while Mustain guided the Hogs to a 7-1 start – largely thanks to Arkansas’ three-headed rushing attack – Dick was slowly becoming an afterthought to most fans. But as Mustain failed to progress, and the relationship between Nutt and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn deteriorated, Dick re-gained his starting role.

Rebounding in 2008 with career numbers, Dick concluded his Razorback career in story-book fashion with a memorable win over LSU. In the fourth quarter, he led the Hogs on a drive for the ages, capping his embattled career with a fourth-and-1 pass to London Crawford to tie the game. Tejada booted in the extra point to give the Hogs the one-point lead and Arkansas held on for the upset.

To date, Dick is the only Arkansas quarterback to win consecutive Golden Boot trophies.

2. Mammoth upset — LSU 14, Arkansas 7

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The official program for the 1966 Cotton Bowl cost a mere $1 on game day. Today, copies easily sell for upwards of $100.

Never give your opponents “bulletin board material.” The Hogs found that out the hard way in 1966.

Winners of 22 straight and riding the nation’s longest winning streak, No. 2 Arkansas entered the 1966 Cotton Bowl hoping to secure its second consecutive national championship with a win over LSU.

The Razorbacks drew first blood, when quarterback John Brittenum completed a pass to Bobby Crockett for a 19-yard touchdown to put Arkansas up 7-0 in the opening quarter. It was the only score of the period.

LSU responded with an 80-yard drive, punctuated by running back Joe Labruzzo’s 1-yard touchdown run. On the Hogs’ next possession, Brittenum went out with an injury and was replaced by Ronny South, who was primarily used for kicking situations. Unprepared for the Tigers swarming defense, South fumbled on his first snap. LSU recovered the ball in Arkansas territory and converted the turnover into points just a few plays later when Labruzzo barreled in for this second score of the day to put LSU up 14-7.

Brittenum returned for Arkansas in the second half, but the Hogs never found any rhythm on offense. Luckily, the Razorback defense was immaculate in the third quarter. The Hogs kept LSU from gaining even one first down.

Arkansas put together two long drives in the final minutes. But Brittenum was intercepted in LSU territory and the turnover all but sealed the Hogs’ fate. With the upset, LSU jumped from the depths of the unranked all the way to No. 8. The Tigers’ victory inadvertently vaulted No. 4 Alabama to the national title. The Crimson Tide were the next highest-ranked team that won their bowl game.

1. Triple overtime thriller — Arkansas 50, LSU 48


Arkansas’ 2007 season was underwhelming at best. And that’s describing it kindly.

Fans were convinced that year’s team would break through and finally win the SEC Championship. But inexcusable losses to Alabama and Kentucky quickly squashed that dream.

Late in the season, though, the Hogs offense finally started clicking. McFadden re-emerged as a Heisman contender. Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis seemed unstoppable. And, maybe most importantly, Dick was playing better than ever. Heading into the LSU game, the Razorbacks were rolling averaging nearly 35 points per game.

Still, the Arkansas faithful knew that beating the top-ranked Tigers in Baton Rouge wouldn’t be easy.

But the Razorbacks got a Herculean effort from McFadden, who rushed for three touchdowns and threw for another, as he finished with a game-high 206 rushing yards to pace the Hogs in the stunner.

Despite losing for the second time that season, the Tigers were voted into the national championship game, where they beat No. 1 Ohio State 38-24.