OXFORD, MS - OCTOBER 22: Quarterback Tyler Wilson #8 of the Arkansas Razorbacks scores a touchdown against the Ole Miss Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on October 22, 2011 in Oxford, Mississippi. The Razorbacks defeated the Rebels 29 to 24. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
During the first half of the game and then in its closing minutes, I thought the Rebels might be victorious in Oxford, Mississippi, as well. The Hogs' offense during that first half, excepting Johnson's great run, looked about as pretty as that Libyan Colonel's last known photos, and our defense looked as effective as his last pleas of "Don't Shoot!" As Stephen has speculated below, we might have just seen Colonel Nutt for the last time facing Arkansas in Ole Miss gear, but if that is the case, I am sure he takes some satisfaction away in knowing that he didn't dip below .500 against his old team. It did look for the world at times that the Hogs, the better team, would let Nutt get away with possibly a season saving victory and thus cause a collective zombie like mass suicide migration of Arkansas fans straight through Louisiana and right into the oil stained Gulf of Mexico. Or we would have jumped off some of our own Ozark cliffs. It wouldn't have been pretty. Instead, call it victory number thirty-six over Ole Miss since 1908. Here is a look back.
* Did you catch the glimpse of Corso wearing our mascot's head on Gameday? I am so used to the Hogs getting left out of highlight clips that I was a bit surprised to see him for that nano-second wearing a Hog head on the day he picked Arkansas to beat Tennessee back in November of 2006. Proud to say that I was there that day to see one pick in the history of Corso's 200 picks. If you caught the ending of the Wisconsin / Michigan State game, you saw just how spectacularly wrong his 200th pick was.
* Will the Hogs come out flat after being off two weeks? I felt like they would. But I didn't see it lasting a whole half! I took to heart Petrino's words that they had stressed during practice getting off to a fast start on both sides of the ball. Coaches can stress it all they want, I suppose, but players have to do it. And our Hogs didn't for yet another game. This type of play is a sure path to a defeat here soon is it not?
* Haha, I was thinking maybe we'll play so well on the road to Baton Rouge that we'll actually get bored with the Hogs. Oh, silly, me! With Nutt, our most drama of Drama Queen coaches on the sideline (it apparently doesn't matter which one), I should not have thought for a moment that we would be bored.
* Wondered if we we would see more out of our running game. Well, for the first time this year we didn't score a single passing touchdown, I believe. Dennis Johnson would lead the way with 160 yards on 15 carries, and Tyler Wilson on an off day from passing would score two rushing touchdowns.
HERE WE GO AGAIN:
* Never underestimate the Hogs' ability to play down to an opponent. If being a Hog fan has taught us anything, I think it has taught us that. I really was hoping (and still am) that Petrino can turn around our Hog culture to where we know how to play as the hunted and not just as a hunter. And with a top ten BCS ranking, we will be hunted until we get to Baton Rouge.
* Darren McFadden, Dexter McCluster, and now Randal Mackey. It makes it sound like Nutt takes recruiting trips to Scotland doesn't it? It took him half of the season, but I think he has found a quarterback in Mackey. Now, if he can just keep from ruining him, that is if Nutt does indeed get another season at Ole Miss.
* On another blog, a poster posted this thought "Do we really miss Mallett?" Well, I do miss the quicker starts on offense that came with Mallett's tenure. It seems like we always scored first with him. But to answer that question, not as much as I would have thought. And it didn't take Tyler Wilson but two attempts to get a road win in the SEC, and it was against a cornered and well motivated opponent too.
* Here is the stat that Nutt and company wanted and got in the first quarter. Time of Possession for Ole Miss: 11:41. Time of Possession for Arkansas: 3:19. Yikes! And it really didn't seem like Arkansas had the ball that long! For the entire game, it was 37:18 for Ole Miss and just 22:42 for Arkansas.
* DId you catch a glimpse of old Nutt crony Keith Burns on the sidelines? He coaches the secondary, and I have to give him props because the Ole Miss secondary played pretty well. But I nearly puked when I saw the "Code Red" t-shirt he was wearing. Geez. Another case of Ole Miss getting Arkansas's hand-me-downs.
* I noticed throughout the game that Paul Petrino was having his own football crisis at the same as his brother was having his. But Illinois couldn't mount the same comeback and fell to Purdue.
* The announcers awarded Dennis Johnson as the player of the game. And his touchdown run was needed in a bad way, for going into the locker room with a big fat zero would have been horrendous. In the notes I take, I wrote right before the 56 yard run that "we sure could use Knile Davis" haha. I swear, I did.
* While Jarius Wright went into hiding and not a great deal of production was coming forth from our other receivers, Joe Adams stood up and accounted for four catches for 124yards with a great long run and catch of 67 yards.
* Just one really stood out to me. I thought it was a commercial for the UofA at first when I saw Pappaw Broyles on television trying to get some uncooperative kids that he is probably eight times older than to call the Hogs. It was a commercial for Gulf Shores, where the SEC vacations! Gene Stallings showed up in another version of it.
TWENTY THREE POINTS IN THE THIRD QUARTER?
* Actually, no, but the SEC Network production staff at the beginning of the 4th quarter had on there that we had scored twenty-three points in the third. It was actually 19 points. As the game was getting tight in the 4th, I sure would have liked the production staff to have been right.
* Another goof, what is it about announcers having trouble with the simple name, "Dennis Johnson." Last week he was "Dennis Green." This week he got reassembled as "Dennis Scott" by Dave Neal, who by the way, a body shot revealed that he could really stand to lose some weight!
* As much as we are frustrated with the Hogs for getting behind, you have to credit them for the third quarter rally. Other good teams this weekend had a bad first thirty minutes as well. Alabama was tied with Tennessee at the half. OU was down at the half to Texas Tech and unlike the Hogs couldn't rally enough to win the game. It happens, and I am glad our Hogs have the confidence and will to pull off these comebacks, but we really could use a change of MO starting next week against Vanderbilt.
* The Old Go To The Bathroom Gambit: I played it in the second half. It worked in the 2000 Cotton Bowl when Anthony Lucas sparked us with a big catch. So I went and sat on the pot and read a little bit of "The Oxford American" of all things, and when I came back to my living room, well, the Hogs were setup 1st and goal! haha. I kid you not!
* How very Nutt, I thought, that his team should recover a fumble at the one yard line, a great victory, and then turn it into the defeat of a safety. That up and down in less than a minute of football was typical of his whole ten years at Arkansas. Props to Jerry Franklin for getting into the backfield and getting what turned out to be two very valuable points. Without them, Ole Miss is playing for a field goal on that last drive.
FOURTH QUARTER FRUSTRATIONS:
* I began to see a life of nightmares involving Mackey running for first downs on 4th downs. 4th and 8, 4th and 7, and I am thinking each time surely the Hogs will put a spy on Mackey or just go full blitz on him. But we let those opportunities to seal the game escape us. And for a moment, I thought I saw Nutt wearing the pink Energizer Bunny costume over on the sidelines.
* Mackey ended up passing for 18 / 30 with 219 yards and two touchdowns. None were more painful than the last one when we all realized that the Hogs could really end up losing this thing. On an off day, Tyler in comparison was 13 / 28 with 232 yards passing. Credit him for making it now to the 133 attempt mark without an interception.
* Eric Bennett got back in my good graces for a long time by coming across the field and producing Mackey's one and very timely interception. He was in my dog house for just standing there looking at a ball that was later ruled a lateral. You are suppose to jump on it!!!!!!! Bennett out of Tulsa was recruited by OSU, OU, Tenn, K-State, Iowa State, Texas Tech, and Oregon State. As Number 14 ran down the sidelines with a victory over Ole Miss in his hands, I couldn't have been happier that he selected Arkansas!
* And how big was that sack of Mackey with no timeouts (Nutt not being the best user of timeouts) left in the game? A second and twenty and no timeouts is what finally ended Mackey's scrambles and put him into a very obvious passing situation that our secondary fed off of on a poor pass.
* Backing up for a moment, here is hoping that whoever it was on the hands team that waited for the ball to come to him gets chewed out royally come time for film study. I couldn't help but think of the first Nutt Bowl in Fayetteville when the Hogs themselves recovered an on-side kick in a rally that fell short of beating Ole Miss. Those two endings could be bookends could they not?
BIG PICTURE THOUGHTS: Here we are at 6-1, bowl eligible, and wondering if the voters will drop us any for our first half of play against one of the worse teams in the SEC. I hope they recognize that with Houston Nutt at the helm, Ole Miss is going to always play Arkansas especially tough. I don't think we deserve to move up, but we don't deserve to be dropped either. However, it will be interesting to see how the OU and Wisconsin losses shake things up. We move on to Vanderbilt next week where I don't think my heart can take the need for another second half rally. I haven't seen much of Vanderbilt this year, but I know they are not Kentucky! And they did beat Ole Miss soundly when they traveled to Nashville earlier in the season. The last time we were in Nashville, we escaped, sorta like we escaped from Oxford. Here is to the idea of the defense playing lights out to begin with and the offense being merciless. If the Hogs can walk through the Dores, then there is a three game home stretch against a Lattimore Less South Carolina and a Tennessee team that showed some backbone for a half last night before we face MSU and LSU to close out the regular season. Hopefully I won't have to take too many more trips to the bathroom during the game for us to win, but hey, I am willing to do it! haha.