During a night when the Hogs had to fight to overcome a tough MSU team and then their own costly mistakes while facing one of the more hostile crowds they've seen all season, this band of wild Razorbacks from the Ozarks showed the trait that is title to one of the more famous books to come from an Arkansan's pen, True Grit. By the mysterious mechanisms of the tv programming gods, there during the overtime ESPN showed a trailer for the Coen brothers' new adaptation of our own Charles Portis' novel. I thought to myself, this is a sign. Hocker just missed a field goal to win the game, but the Hogs are going to pull it out somehow. They'll show some true grit here and walk away from Starkville with a win. And sure enough, that last defensive effort would have made Rooster Cogburn proud. Now, on to the review of this classic of ESPN cinema, the double overtime win in Starkville.
* Signs of a possible strange night ahead were apparent in the morning when on College Gameday the crew got the pick screwed up by thinking that they were picking the Ole Miss / LSU game or the Arkansas / Ole Miss game? It was botched. They mentioned how Houston Nutt, the Right Reverend, can pull the upset. Do what? Corso, the stroke victim, got them back on track, but then picked against us, and so did Herbie. At times during the night I would think that the Gameday crew had actually stumbled their way to the truth.
* Ohio State, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma State did us no favors by winning their games earlier in the day. Hats off to Texas A&M for knocking off No. 8 Nebraska, the only team in front of us to lose. The Aggies' new found winning ways has to help our strength of schedule.
* Who amongst you didn't feel a little uneasy about going into this game ranked number thirteen? haha.
* The big number 36 on the field for Nick Bell. I knew the Hogs would face an emotional team, for it was senior night and they were honoring their fallen teammate. Though MSU didn't secure a vcitory, they certainly did honor their teammate with the toughness of their play. He would have, I am sure, been very proud of them. I thought more than one time last night of A.E. Housman's classic poem "To An Athlete Dying Young." That is what happens when you majored in English and love watching Saturday football.
* First play of the game, take a whisky shot, for the Hogs got a penalty. Ray Domiquez, I love ya big fella, but I think you had three false starts last night. Cut that out! You hear? And don't try to eat this week's turkey before it is out of the oven, either.
* Somebody get Breeding over to the Theatre Department where he can take some acting lessons. If you get hit on a punt, you are suppose to fall down and hold on to your leg like it was about to fall off. We might have still only gotten the five yard variety of penalty, but you never know. I knew karma was playing with us when we commited the same penalty, but it resulted in an MSU first down.
* Relf, I believe, gave everybody flashbacks to the Auburn game and Cam the Scam Newton running right through the middle of us. MSU had obviously studied the tape of that Auburn game and knew that we weren't strong enough up front to make a solid wall that could keep out rushing quarterbacks. I don't know which team we'll face in the bowl game, but I sure as hell hope they don't have that variety of quarterback. Or for that matter an offensive line like MSU's, which allowed Relf to sit back there and update his facebook page "About to throw for first down to Bumphis" before throwing each pass.
* It was a live by Knile Davis, die by Knile Davis, live again by Knile Davis kind of night. After the sixty plus touchdown run, which looked very DMACesque, I said I was going to Fayetteville where I was going to build a pyramid in his honor right outside his dorm room. After his late game fumble, I was ready to drop a pyramid on him! Then he scored the winning touchdown and it was back to rounding up the slaves and looking for a quarry. Such was life with Knile Davis last night.
* With that said, I thought at times we tried to rely too much on Knile and the running attack. I know you want to do what is working, but you can go to a well too many times and become rather predictable. And we were so conservative with Davis on that series before the field goal attempt that it felt like we were just inviting a miss, which is what happened. Bobby Petrino of all people got too far away from the pass in his play calling, in my humble opinion.
* In the realm of what if. What if the Hogs had not fumbled back the ball early in the game and had gone on a short scoring drive and turned the game into 21-7? And what if Petrino had instead called a pass on 3rd and eight when we were trying to run out the clock? No Knile Davis fumble. Interception, that could have been an outcome. Sure. But a short slant to DJ Williams seems to me a higher percentage play than running it on 3rd and eight. And they had already used all their timeouts.
* The up, then down, and then big up again moments of the night came with a fumble recovery, Anthony Leon being stupid and getting ejected, and then the next play Mallett hitting Jarius Wright for an 89 yard touchdown, the longest of the season.
* Where was the Ronnie Wingo wheel route for a touchdown play last night? That has been money for us throughout the season.
* Ho-hum, another 300 plus night for Mallett in the passing category, haha. He was 17/26 and had 3 TDs with one interception made by a member of the Ringly Brothers Flying Circus dressed up as a Mississippi State defensive back.
* To you gamblers out there (how could anybody really put hard earned money on these games?) the Hogs did beat the spread by winning yet another overtime game in the state of Mississippi. I believe this is our third such win. One against Ole Miss and two now against Mississippi State.
* How many times in Razorback history has a ball been fumbled out of the endzone by the opposition and then turned over to our offense by rule? I don't know if that stat is kept, but it has to be a very low number. And for the Hogs to get that opportunity in overtime? haha. And then, of course, to blow it! When will we ever get that free pass again?
* Undefeated right now against teams who beat Alabama (South Carolina) and undefeated on the family of networks. CBS recorded our two losses. Any chance we can get the LSU game moved over to ESPN?
* Greek Mythology Reference of the Week: Again, the Orpheus complex. The Hogs had victory in their grasp and turned back just long enough for Knile Davis to fumble the ball on our side of the field. Luckily, we snatched victory back from Hades with a great stop on 4th and seven during the second overtime.
* Game ball to Tenarius Wright and company for getting to Relf to end the game. You know, did it not seem a bit weird for a game with so much bang to end with such a whimper as a sack? Not complaining, but it did seem somewhat anti-climatic.
* BIG PICTURE THOUGHTS: The LSU game is now bigger than it has ever been since the 2006 game when the Hogs last had BCS hopes on the line in Little Rock. We could still beat LSU and not go to the Sugar Bowl, such is the politics of things, but we sure wouldn't have any chance of New Orleans if the Hogs had lost last night. Now, it is own! We need to bring the same True Grit spirit of both Rooster Cogburn and Maddie Ross to War Memorial next Saturday to face a tough LSU team. It will be the Luck of the Mad Hatter against the True Grit of the Hogs.