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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Razorbacks saw the Tide, Dawgs up close

by Wally Hall | January 11, 2022 at 2:28 a.m.


If you were comparing scores before Monday night's College Football Playoff Championship, you might have gone against Nick Saban, which is rarely a wise choice.

The University of Arkansas was one of only four teams that played both Alabama and Georgia, and the Bulldogs appeared stronger on paper.

Georgia beat Arkansas and Auburn on successive weekends by 37-0 and 37-10.

Alabama beat Arkansas and Auburn on successive weekends 42-35 and 24-22 (overtime). The Tide did have enough yards against the Razorbacks to build a decent sized neighborhood.

Georgia beat Florida 31-7 and Tennessee 41-7, while the Tide beat the Gators 31-29 and the Vols 52-24.

Of course, there is the fact that Alabama spanked Georgia in the SEC Championship Game 41-24 when the No. 1 defense in the nation gave up 536 yards to the Crimson Tide, 421 in the air.

Quarterback Stetson Bennett , the former walk-on, had three interceptions against the Tide.

Georgia slipped to No. 2 in defense nationally. Alabama was No. 6.

Ironically, Arkansas had one of its worst games against the Bulldogs, gaining only 162 yards total offense and falling behind 21-0 after the first quarter. But the Razorbacks' offense was good against the Tide with 468 yards of total offense, although they did give up that 671.

In a way, that kind of described Arkansas' season.

The Razorbacks were 4-0 and had huge wins against Texas and Texas A&M going into the Georgia game, which apparently set them back a bit.

They followed the loss to the Bulldogs with a heartbreaking one-point loss to Ole Miss, 52-51.

Just a different thought for a moment, how was Lane Kiffin not a strong candidate for SEC Coach of the Year after winning 10 games?

Before the wheels came off at Auburn, which finished the season with five consecutive losses -- which would have gotten Gus Malzahn executed instead of fired -- it beat Arkansas, which was dinged up but got a break when it caught the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff in a historical first-time meeting.

As they were supposed to. the Razorbacks won easily 45-3 in a game where the last two quarters were shortened to 12 minutes each.

Then came a much-needed week off for a banged-up and sore Razorback team.

That week. Coach Sam Pittman used more time for healing than practice and sitting at 4-4 the Hogs dug in the next week.

Arkansas eased by Mississippi State 31-28, but it was just what the team needed, a shot of confidence it could win a close game.

The Razorbacks traveled to Baton Rouge and got another close win, 16-13 in overtime against LSU.

It was their second trophy game and suddenly that hardware became a focus point. The Southwest Classic and the Boot were their's and lingering in the distance was the Borderline Battle trophy.

They had to go to Alabama first and that game has already been written about, but they came out of it with the knowledge they competed.

They tallied 425 yards against Missouri, holding the Tigers to 316 and eight days later were invited to the Outback Bowl.

On Jan. 1, they pushed a poor first half behind them and beat Penn State 24-10 to pick up their fourth trophy, although it was considerably smaller than the others.

Arkansas finished the season winning 5 of 6 to complete a 9-4 campaign in which every game but Georgia they were competitive.

The same program that two seasons earlier couldn't win a conference game for the second consecutive season finished third in the SEC West.

Like 121 other teams, they were home to watch Monday night's championship and only one of four teams to play Georgia and Alabama.


Print Headline: Razorbacks saw the Tide, Dawgs up close

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