The dream has not died, and the hope still lives - for a trip to Shreveport.
Does the score of 19-15 ever represent anything but an ugly win on one team's part? Probably not, but hey, after how this season has gone, I'll take it! Less I start to sound like a certain someone in our past, I am not going to call this win "precious" or "special," but it is win number four in a down season where each win is something to marvel at. And, yes, because of this win, this number four, the hope for a bowl game still stumbles along with us a little longer into the season. For that hope to make it to the end of the season, as everyone knows, we only have to beat two out of three ranked teams, one of which just missed beating the top ranked team in the nation last night.
Sidenote: I don't think the schadenfreude has ever been higher for me in terms of LSU than to see their fans have their hearts ripped out at the end of A.J.'s now legendary drive. My mind flashed back to 2006 at War Memorial and their great pleasure in playing a part in ruining our hopes of a national title that year. And so I smiled last night at my tv screen to see despair cover the faces of the purple and gold. I am still smiling.
If the Tigers come to Fayetteville and do eliminate us from a bowl game, will we all be that upset after how this season has gone? I admit to mixed feelings. On the one hand, I like the idea of Dennis Johnson, Cobi Hamilton, and Tyler Wilson getting the opportunity to play one more game as Razorbacks and possibly put a positive end to a disappointing season. On the other hand, I like the idea of a new coaching and recruiting staff getting the opportunity to come in as soon as possible and the old staff leaving town as soon as possible. And with a 1-6 bowl record, what are the chances that John L. Smith just makes our bad bowl record even worse? I guess in the end it will play itself out however it plays out, no matter my mixed feelings.
Back to Saturday's game. When I turned on the television, the first question I had was how many people would I see in the stands. The reported answer is 64,451 for attendance. The other was will be wearing those ugly gray uniforms again, or would be in something that looked closer to what Razorbacks should look like? I was pleased to see us wearing red and white once again from top to toe.
But we still had a mascot on our helmet that the team still struggles to live up to. Here is a quote from Tyler Wilson after the game, "It seems like every week it is 10-0. We've got to flip the switch and put it in the - everybody uses the term put it away or finish the jugular or whatever - but try to get that across. And we don't quite do that." Tyler, the Hogs have lacked a kill instinct for a long time. And thankfully the lack of it didn't cost us a victory on Saturday, for Tulsa simply didn't do enough for themselves to cost us a victory.
We can thank the defense for holding this week at the end of the game, unlike last week in Little Rock. And I don't believe the venue had anything to do with that. Tulsa is still a Conference USA team. And Ole Miss is still a member of the SEC. And I think Trey Flowers, Chris Smith, and company were simply determined not to let another game slip away in the last seconds. Overall, the defense was the side of the ball most deserving in credit for the win. They held Tulsa to their lowest total in points (15), yards (328) and rushing yards (106) for the season. Chris Smith's sack on the Tulsa quarterback was just the 5th allowed all season by Tulsa. And Trey Flowers' knocking down of a fourth and goal pass made life a lot easier for our offense.
Speaking of which, we are all puzzled once again about what has happened to Tyler Wilson and his normally accurate and well judged passes. His interception was as wobbly of a mess as I've ever seen come from a Razorback quarterback. As inconsistent as Tyler is getting, Dennis Johnson gets more consistent, what with 109 total yards rushing, which represented an entire fourth of our offensive production. Crip Hall Award winner, Cobi Hamilton, passed Jarius Wright in catches on a season by adding eleven catches on Saturday to what is now sixty-nine on the year.
The coaching staff still makes me scratch my head. Like the announcers, I didn't understand the need for the two points after the last touchdown. I was scared to death that the failed two point attempt, Tyler falling down on his own for a change, was going to come back and haunt us. The refs, I still wonder how they could have ever not viewed Dennis Johnson's last touchdown as anything but a touchdown. If the booth had not overturned that call, I would have liked to have seen the coaching staff all go get their hands on some pitchforks and torches.
Finally, the number 54. The Hogs gave us on Saturday win number 54 against Tulsa, with a winning streak that stretches back to 1977 and eighteen total wins in a row. As I normally see the Hogs in a David role for much of the time, it is weird to think that to Tulsa we are a Goliath. Though not the prettiest game the Hogs have played, I am glad that we didn't get a rock to the head thrown at us from the Golden Hurricane. As bad as we've played this season, we are still not losing to Tulsa bad. Take your comforts where you can, Hog fans.