FAYETTEVILLE -- This isn't the senior season quarterback Austin Allen expected for himself and the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Not even close.
"If you had told me in August we were going to be 4-7 right now, I would have kind of laughed in your face," Allen said. "I didn't think this was going to happen."
Mississippi State beat the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville 28-21 on Saturday to drop the Razorbacks to 4-7, including 1-6 in the SEC.
With one game left against Missouri on Friday at home, Arkansas is assured of its second losing record in five seasons under Coach Bret Bielema.
The Razorbacks went 3-9 in Bielema's first season in 2013 when Allen redshirted, then they went to three consecutive bowl games before this year's slide.
"When we all got here five years ago, the program was kind of in the ground," Allen said. "Not a lot of positivity around. We wanted to turn it around and leave it better than when we got here and it's really disappointing with where we are right now."
So what happened this season?
Bielema said it was a good question, and after giving it a little thought in his postgame news conference Saturday, he cited three reasons: struggles in the second half, injuries to key players and a brutal schedule.
The Razorbacks have been outscored 221-148 after halftime -- including 14-7 by Mississippi State -- and in their seven losses the margin is 170-67.
"When we weren't able to convert and do things in the second half -- offense, defense -- it gave us issues," Bielema said.
Arkansas tailback Rawleigh Wiliams III, who rushed for 1,360 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, suffered a career-ending neck injury in the final spring practice.
The list of other players with season-ending injuries is significant, featuring cornerback Ryan Pulley (pectoral) in the opener against Florida A&M, receiver Jared Cornelius (Achilles tendon) in the third game against Texas A&M and center Frank Ragnow (ankle) and running back Chase Hayden (leg) in the seventh game against Auburn. Allen (shoulder) missed four games after injuring his shoulder in the fifth game at South Carolina.
"I'm not going to sit up here and poor-boy injuries," Bielema said. "But there were injuries that had a huge effect on not just the field, but in the locker room."
Arkansas' seven losses are to teams with a combined 60-17 record, including five in the College Football Playoff rankings. Texas A&M has the worst record among the teams to beat Arkansas at 7-4.
"The SEC and the SEC West in particular, it's merciless," Bielema said. "Once you're into it, there's no reprieve."
Missouri (6-5, 3-4) will look to extend its winning streak to six games after beating Vanderbilt 45-17 while the Razorbacks have to regroup from a crushing loss.
"This was one of the most emotional games afterward in the locker room I think we've had," freshman linebacker Grant Morgan said. "It hit us really hard that we're not going to make a bowl. It was just a lot of sad faces."
Allen said he's confident the Razorbacks will be motivated to play Missouri despite this season's disappointments.
"I have full faith Coach B is going to get us ready to play, all the assistant coaches," Allen said. "We'll be ready to go."
Sports on 11/20/2017
Print Headline: Setbacks aplenty for Hogs