Arkansas football: Despite laying an egg, special season still possible
Okay, so the Razorbacks laid an egg on the big stage Saturday against Georgia. A 37-0 final pretty much says it all. Nothing went right for the Hogs between the hedges. A terrible start put them in too big of a hole to climb out of.
Head coach Sam Pittman wanted to see how his team responded to adversity. The Hogs were under the gun for 4 quarters. In that regard, Pittman has to be happy with the result. The outcome was determined before the 1st quarter came to an end. It could have been a crushing and deflating loss.
Mistake after penalty after mistake put the Hogs on the wrong side of a 21-0 score. From that point to the final whistle, Pittman was afforded a sizable sample of what his team is made of.
A lesser team would have folded from the sheer frustration of it all. But the Razorbacks didn’t do that. They fought to the end, and although they never reached the end zone, the effort was evident for 60 minutes. If there’s anything positive to take away from Saturday’s game, that would be it.
This team will play for Pittman for all 60 minutes. The results may not always go its way, but it will make you earn every yard. That’s the takeaway from Saturday, and that’s what will, if maintained for the whole 12-game season, make this a special one when all is said and done.
It doesn’t get much easier now that the SEC portion of the schedule is upon us, but the Razorbacks are looking at perhaps putting themselves on a course to win 9 games. They haven’t had that kind of success since an 11-2 campaign in 2011, Bobby Petrino’s last year in Fayetteville.
It would be a remarkable turnaround for a program that hasn’t won 9 games combined over the past 3 seasons. It’s doable given the fight the team displayed over the final 3 quarters on Saturday.
Arkansas still looks like the 2nd- or 3rd-best team in the SEC West. We’ll get a better gauge on that next Saturday when the Hogs visit Oxford to take on an Ole Miss team that dropped an equally deflating game at Alabama on Saturday.
Which team bounces back will be the intrigue. That team will have a real claim to the No. 2 slot in the West behind the Tide. A victory on the road next Saturday could even give the Razorbacks deserved optimism toward a potential double-digit-win season.
From a sheer mathematical standpoint, the Hogs still control their own destiny. What does that mean, exactly? Simple: Win out and head to Atlanta for what would likely be a rematch with the Bulldogs.
Yeah, that may seem a little far-fetched given Saturday’s result, coupled with the gauntlet that is the SEC schedule. Still left on the slate are road games at Ole Miss, Alabama and LSU, as well as home games with Auburn, Mississippi State and Missouri, in addition to a nonconference game with UAPB in Little Rock.
A perfect home schedule is certainly not out of the question. In fact, the way the Razorbacks have played this year, they should be favored in all 3 games, plus the one at War Memorial Stadium.
That would add up to 8 wins for the Razorbacks. Get 1 or maybe 2 more on the road and it adds up to an 8- or 9-win season. It is certainly within the realm of possibility.
So as bad as Saturday’s drubbing feels, there’s absolutely no reason for Hog Nation to hang their collective heads. And I suspect they are not, because the anticipation for a memorable season remains clear and present.
At least, that’s what I saw from an Arkansas team that fought for 60 minutes on Saturday against all odds.