I have to say, the game on Saturday really made me question why I invest so much emotional energy in the Hogs. Not that it wasn't bad enough actually watching the damn thing, but I could barely get the thought of "65 points...65 points...65 points" out of my head for the rest of the weekend. In fact, it's still rattling around up in there.
After subjecting myself to three decades of painful Arkansas defeats I thought I'd experienced all the ways that losing a big game could suck, but this one somehow managed to find some new areas of sucktitude. Here are three key factors that combined to make the game uniquely painful:
1. Heroism Wasted. Kevin covered this in more detail in his great post yesterday, but as Tyler Wilson was undergoing his amazing transformation from backup QB to Joe Montana/Peyton Manning, I felt like I was witnessing one of the all-time greatest moments in Razorback football: unsung 2nd-stringer steps in for the all-star and leads the team to a season-defining victory on the road. The whole offense stepped up, really...watching Knile Davis fight for yards and Greg Childs absolutely own the Auburn secondary was a thing of beauty. But in the end, all that effort and great play meant absolutely nothing.
2. Phantom Touchdowns. For the record, I don't believe in blaming losses on the officials. The fact is, Auburn won and the Hogs lost. End of story. But, in a game like that I have to ask myself, would things have turned out differently if the refs had correctly ruled that the Tigers' fumble at the goal line was the Razorbacks' ball? Or more importantly, that Broderick Green's knee was down before he gave up the fumble that was returned for a TD? That was the backbreaker...Wilson and the Razorbacks had been unstoppable up til that point and were driving again. After that, we had to play catch-up and it all fell apart from there. Beating Cameron Newton on his home turf is hard enough...when the officials spot the other guys two touchdowns it gets even harder.
3. 65 Points. I mean, seriously...65 points!! I know that the refs handed over a couple of TDs, and the kickoff coverage was atrocious (I think Auburn's average starting field position was inside the Hogs' red zone), but still...what an utter embarrassment.