FAYETTEVILLE -- The Arkansas Razorbacks cannot reach six victories, the standard for bowl eligibility, and trail too many teams in the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate (APR) to be considered for a bowl slot as a 5-7 team even if the Razorbacks defeat Missouri in Friday's season finale.
"Not going to a bowl game is really disappointing," senior quarterback Austin Allen said. "We didn't go to one my freshman year, and now that I'm a senior we're not going. Really disappointing."
Sophomore defensive end McTelvin Agim agreed.
"We came out here and knew it was a do-or-die game," Agim said. "We knew to get our seniors to a bowl game we were going to need to win this game ... so it's a very disappointing loss."
There are slots for 78 bowl teams and 70 bowl-eligible teams entering the final weekend of the regular season. The NCAA uses the APR ratings to slot teams in bowls if there are not enough teams with the mandatory six victories needed for bowl eligibility.
Last year, North Texas and Mississippi State played in bowls as the top two teams with 5-7 records in the APR rankings. The year before, Nebraska, Minnesota and San Jose State played in bowl games at 5-7 and all three teams won.
The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville is tied for No. 73 with Colorado State in the 2017 APR rankings with a score of 965. That places the Razorbacks 24th among teams who could finish 5-6 or 5-7, according to the College Football News.
Attendance on Saturday was announced as 64,153, about 89 percent of capacity at 72,000-seat Reynolds Razorback Stadium, but that was for tickets sold. Actual attendance appeared closer to 35,000.
"Well, that's our fault," senior tailback David Williams said. "I'm pretty sure the fans are frustrated with how we've played. But we've just go to fight through that. We can't pay that no mind."
Coach Bret Bielema said he didn't feel that the lackluster attendance affected the Hogs' performance.
"I didn't feel that," he said. "I thought our guys were really, really fired up. There was great energy on the sidelines."
Arkansas won the turnover battle 2-1 against Mississippi State for its first positive margin since a 38-37 victory over Ole Miss on Oct. 28.
The Razorbacks scored all of their touchdowns in the 28-21 loss to the Bulldogs either after or on fumble plays.
David Williams' 3-yard touchdown run in the first quarter came three snaps after Reid Miller recovered a loose punt at the Mississippi State 36 after it touched a Bulldogs player. Briston Guidry recovered a Mississippi State fumble in the end zone forced by McTelvin Agim later in the quarter. Devwah Whaley scored a 1-yard touchdown two plays after the Bulldogs booted a Williams fumble nearly 30 yards down to the 1, where Arkansas receiver Brandon Martin pounced on it.
Arkansas will enter Friday's finale tied for No. 78 in the country with a minus-2 turnover margin, with 15 turnovers gained and 17 lost.
Senior Austin Allen and freshman Cole Kelley will enter Friday's season finale in a virtual tie in three key categories: completion percentage, touchdowns and interceptions.
Both quarterbacks have thrown eight touchdowns and four interceptions. Kelley has completed 87 of 151 passes for a completion percentage of .5762, which is a tiny sliver ahead of Allen, who is 91 of 158 for a completion percentage of .5759.
Interim Athletic Director Julie Cromer Peoples and other top members of the department have been overtly visible in the three days since the firing of Jeff Long.
Peoples attended Coach Bret Bielema's radio show at the Catfish Hole restaurant on Thursday, conducted a 15-minute news conference prior to Friday's men's basketball game, and circulated through the press box at Saturday's football game.
Peoples, 46, is a graduate of Camdenton (Mo.) High School near the Lake of the Ozarks and an honors college graduate at Missouri State.
Players of the week
RB David Williams
The senior from Philadelphia had eight carries for a team-high 75 yards. Williams scored on a 3-yard run on the Razorbacks' second series and averaged 9.4 yards per carry.
DE McTelvin Agim
The sophomore from Texarkana, Texas, had perhaps his best game with 9 total tackles, a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss. He also forced 2 fumbles, one recovered for a touchdown by Briston Guidry.
Sports on 11/20/2017
Print Headline: APR can't save Hogs bowl date