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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Challenges remain, but Hogs have surprised

by Wally Hall | November 16, 2021 at 2:09 a.m.


As hard as it is to believe, after a nine-month wait for football, there are only two regular-season games left for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Back in the sweaty days of August, there were at least a dozen question marks surrounding the Razorbacks, who were coming off a 3-7 season that was celebrated all over the state.

All the games had been against SEC opponents.

The biggest question seemed to be, could they improve?

After 10 games, that answer is as obvious as their 7-3 record.

They won every nonconfernce game and are 3-3 in SEC play and if they had converted a two-point play against Ole Miss, today's discussions might include the Peach or Outback bowls.

Where and who the Razorbacks play in postseason is yet to be determined, but what is proven is this has been a heck of a season with their second biggest challenge of the year coming up this Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa against Alabama.

The Crimson Tide are almost a three-touchdown favorite but expect that number to go up because the Razorbacks haven't beaten Alabama since Nick Saban became the head coach there, although his first win was vacated because of NCAA violations before his arrival.

Arkansas beat Saban twice when he was at LSU, 21-20 in the 2002 (The Miracle on Markham) and 24-23 in double overtime in 2006.

On the subject of LSU, the Razorbacks' win against the Tigers was in front of about 90,000 mostly hostile fans in Death Valley at night.

That's not just finding a way to win but overcoming some odds against them.

LSU's roster included 4- and 5-star players and a ton of speed.

Arkansas' roster included a band of guys who overcome, overachieved and almost overwhelmed to go from being one of the worst teams in the SEC to a formidable opponent.

The Razorbacks' three losses were all on the road, starting with No. 1 Georgia, which finished its SEC schedule last Saturday and has only Charleston Southern and Georgia Tech standing between it and the SEC championship and most likely the College Football Playoffs.

The Bulldogs, who shut out the Hogs 37-0, are averaging 38.7 points per game and allowing just 7.6. Those are winning numbers.

At Ole Miss in a shootout, it came down to a two-point attempt that never really developed.

The next week, it was a 38-23 loss to Auburn, but the Tigers scored 10 fourth quarter points.

The Razorbacks are now riding a three-game win streak and one of the sweetest was last Saturday night.

Offensively, both the Razorbacks and the Tigers struggled a little. but with the game on the line in overtime, Montaric Brown got an interception in the end zone and KJ Jefferson got the Hogs in the right place and freshman Cam Little hit the game winner, his third field goal of the night.

The Razorbacks have claimed two of their regular season trophies, winning the Southwest Classic and The Boot and have one more left with Missouri.

Arkansas has never captured all three trophies in one season.

Anyone who thought this might be possible back in the dog days of summer was either a genius or a fanatical fan.

Arkansas needs to do everything it can to run the clock Saturday night against Alabama and not get anyone hurt.

Looking ahead, Sam Pittman needs one more win for his final bonus of the season, another $250,000 (he's already got $500,000 for picking up the sixth and seventh wins). But for him, it isn't about money but reestablishing a proud program.

In preseason, it was predicted here the Hogs would be 7-5, now I wish I'd gone 8-4.


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