Texas A&M simultaneously pulled off its biggest win as a member of the SEC and former member of the Big XII last weekend. The Aggies and redshirt freshman superstar quarterback Johnny Manziel rocked the college football world by beating then-#1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa. In doing so they cleared the path for Kansas State to play in the BCS Championship Game. All the Wildcats have to do is take care of business this weekend at Baylor then at home against a resurgent Texas Longhorns team two days after Thanksgiving. Kansas State emerged as the #1 team in the latest BCS standings, but they have to settle for the #2 spot in most polls – including this week’s BlogHawgs.com Select 17, where Oregon reigns supreme after picking up 6 of the 9 first place votes.
The Ducks looked strong once again on Saturday at Cal. They host Stanford this weekend in another late-season test. The Civil War awaits Oregon the following week, then a date in the Pac-12 Championship Game against either UCLA or USC. Meanwhile Notre Dame responded to its lackluster performance last week against Pittsburgh by knocking off Boston College on the road. The Irish head back home to take on Wake Forest this weekend before ending its regular season in the Coliseum against Southern Cal. Notre Dame has won ugly – key word, won – but will be tested by the Trojan offensive machine.
The SEC has six teams in this week’s BCS top 10 but none of them in the top three. Two teams have to lose before the SEC champion can realistically get a shot a seventh straight BCS crown. All three teams ahead of Alabama and Georgia (also sitting with one loss and a spot secured in the SECCG) have challenging games remaining, and one slip up could open the door just enough for the nation’s most powerful conference to once again appear in the last college football game of the season.
Many have dubbed the Saturday loss to UL-Monroe as the worst loss in Razorbacks football history. Others point to The Citadel in 1992 that doomed Jack Crowe’s fate in Fayetteville. Still others claim the 1998 loss to Tennessee as the biggest gut-punch the fan base has ever suffered. You know you’re a Razorback fan when you follow a humiliating, incredible loss by wondering where it sits in the pantheon of Arkansas losses.
To be clear, the 1969 loss to Texas in the Big Shootout remains the worst loss in Razorbacks history. That loss ended the season and a national title run. It was made worse by the fact the Hogs led the game well into the fourth quarter when James Street inexplicably found Randy Peschel on a 4th-and-3 to keep the Longhorns alive. To this day J. Frank Broyles claims to have never seen the game film. I believe him.
Since joining the SEC, though, the Hogs have encountered several heartbreaking losses – often in creative ways. Before we turn the page tomorrow and focus on the future, let’s take one more look at the ugly side of being a Razorbacks fan. They say comedy is nothing more than tragedy + time. For us, we will not live long enough to see any of these losses as funny.
1) The Citadel(Sept. 5, 1992) – Welcome to the SEC! In the first game as a member of the SEC Arkansas suffered its most embarrassing moment – to this day – as a member. Arkansas actually led 3-0 in the fourth quarter before defensive end Judson Boehmer picked up an E.D. Jackson fumble and rumbled 34 yards for the game’s only touchdown. As you know all too well at this point, Jack Crowe never again coached the Razorbacks after that game. The Citadel 10, Arkansas 3
2) Tennessee(Nov. 14, 1998) – There is no shame in losing to the #1 team in the country. Just as it was in 1969, though, the stage and manner in which Arkansas lost this one stands out the most. Holding on to a thin lead late in the second half, the Hogs could not avoid disaster thanks to a one-in-a-million trip/fumble combo that cost the Hogs a chance at the first ever BCS National Title. Tennessee 28, Arkansas 24
3) Florida (Dec. 2, 2006) – For a team that came as far off the radar as Arkansas did in 2006 to enter this list, you know the loss had to be a gut-punch. It was. Heisman Trophy runner-up Darren McFadden and the Razorbacks almost delayed the start of the SEC domination of the BCS title games by beating eventual champ Florida in Atlanta. Instead they found themselves in a Fish-y situation (2:20 mark). Florida 38, Arkansas 28
4) Mississippi State (Nov. 21, 1998) – Leading up to the trip to Starkville first-year head coach Houston Nutt said all the right things. We were led to believe the Hogs had shaken off the stunning loss at Knoxville the previous week. Of course, kicker Todd Latourette blew off steam at Club West with a few cocktails before trying to drive home. His subsequent DWI arrest and one-game suspension – along with a lethargic team overall – led to a stunning fall in Starkville thanks to a last-second field goal that sent the Bulldogs to the SEC Championship Game. Mississippi State 22, Arkansas 21
5) Louisiana – Monroe (Sept. 8, 2012)* – Ranked #8 in the nation and preparing to host the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide the following week in Fayetteville, Arkansas lost starting quarterback Tyler Wilson to a head injury last in the first half. The Razorback offense struggled the rest of the way, and the defense couldn’t get the Warhawks off the field. The result cost the Hogs many things including a visit from ESPN’s uber-popular “College Game Day” program. UL-Monroe 34, Arkansas 31 – OT
6) SMU(1995-1997) – For three straight seasons Arkansas could not put away its former SWC foe. The Hogs lost in three different places – Dallas, Fayetteville, and Shreveport – to a program that finished 12-21 overall in those three years. The 1995 win for the Ponies was their sole victory on the season. The inability to beat SMU in these three years signaled the depths to which Razorback football had fallen since The Citadel. 1995: SMU 17, Arkansas 14; 1996: SMU 23, Arkansas 10; 1997: SMU 31, Arkansas 9
7) Alabama (Sept. 25, 2010) – This was to be Arkansas’s breakthrough moment. The Hogs and Tide had a national television audience. Both were ranked in the Top Ten. Bama was the reigning national champ, Arkansas the upstart that finally looked ready for prime time after its exhilarating win the previous week at Georgia. Instead Alabama imposed its will in the fourth quarter, effectively putting the Hogs “in their place” as SEC West bridesmaids. Alabama 24, Arkansas 20
8) Alabama(Sept. 28, 2002) – Fresh off dominating wins over Boise St. and South Florida, Arkansas felt like it had a team ready to take down Alabama and emerge as a National Title contender. Shaud Williams ripped off an 80-yard TD run before most fans fully settled into their seats, and the Crimson Tide never looked back. Arkansas managed to eek out an SEC West title thanks to the Miracle on Markham, only to lose to Georgia in the SEC Championship Game and Minnesota in the Music City Bowl to finish a 9-5 season. Alabama 30, Arkansas 12
9) Vanderbilt(Sept. 10, 2005) – Losing to Vanderbilt puts you on this list, even if Jay Cutler was on that Commodore team. Arkansas led 24-13 in the fourth quarter only to choke as badly as any Hogs team I can remember watching. Cutler hooked up with Marlon White with 0:26 on the clock to seal the win. I’ll never forget watching the Vandy fans celebrate in our stadium. Vanderbilt 28, Arkansas 24
10) Southern Cal (Sept. 18, 2005) – The Razorbacks have never been more out-classed across the board in a game since I’ve been alive. USC could easily have put up 100 points that night at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The Trojans racked up 246 yards of offense in the first quarter – despite only holding the ball 1:24 – and reeled off 4 touchdowns. That was clearly a men-amongst-boys situation. Southern Cal 70, Arkansas 17
*This could climb in the rankings depending on how the rest of the season goes.