Miracle on Markham One will always have the names Matt Jones and Decori Birmingham associated with them. Miracle on Markham Two will always be associated with the names Casey Dick and London Crawford. Instead of a last second hope and prayer play like in wins past, this year's team made big plays throughout the game. But I would say two names still should forever be associated with this year's win, Cobi Hamilton for his two amazing touchdowns and his securing of the on-side kick and then Knile Davis for his 152 yards rushing, the first score of the game, and the grinding out of time eating yards in the fourth quarter. With that said, it was still very much a complete team effort, including some 50,000 plus loud and screaming Razorback fans. I am happy to say that I was one of them. Here's what I saw, heard, and thought during last night's 31-23 victory over LSU.
* Waking up yesterday morning had something of the feeling of Christmas just two days after Thanksgiving. It didn't matter that Desmond Howard had chosen to play the Grinch and proclaim on Gameday that the Hogs would lose to LSU. It didn't matter that ESPN kept running on the scroll that Ryan Mallett had twenty-two incompletions against LSU last year. Such Debbie Downers! haha. What mattered was that it was a beautiful blue-bird sky of a day in Arkansas and that I had a coveted ticket to the game.
* Or I thought I did. FYI: If you should mistakenly use one of your two LSU tickets at the ULM game earlier in the season, well, you will need to go to the "Will Call" area by Gate Seven where they'll ask to see your driver's license and issue you something that looks like a note from the principals office to get in. We first tried to walk up there and see if the ticket ripper wouldn't notice. They didn't notice it during the ULM game! But he had a sharper eye. The take away message, do be careful fellow season ticket holders about which tickets you bring to the game.
* The sights and sounds of the tailgating around War Memorial are always great to behold. LSU fans were dotted amongst the red and white outposts of Hog Nation, but it was clearly an Arkansas gathering of the faithful. In that tent city, those who wore purple and gold were the only sinners, haha. Yet, it was an atmosphere of good natureness from what I could tell. You would see groups of friends, some LSU fans, some Arkansas. Then there were mixed dating couples, the woman in Arkansas red and white, her boyfriend or husband in LSU gear.
* My favorite sartorial sighting of the day was a t-shirt that read "The Good (picture of a Hog), the Bad (Alabama A), and the Ugly (picture of the LSU Tiger). Haha. Santa, get me one of those for Christmas!
* The Good Hog, Tusk, was back in Little Rock, but carrying many more pounds of bacon on his skeleton than what he was carrying a few months ago at the ULM game. Like our team, Tusk has done some growing up as well this season.
* Ramon Broadway and Little Rock's native son, D.J. Williams, were both on the cover of the program. And I am sure Nike is pleased that they are both wearing this year's uniform and not the Addias wear that was on the first Little Rock program of the season. The mistake about the the Orange bowl being in Dallas, Texas, is still in the progam too. And Stoerner did not play for the Hogs from 2005-07 either. Nitpicking, I guess. But something a good program should know and get correct is the team's history.
* I thought it rather apropos that a member of one of our early SEC teams, Isaac Davis (1990-93), should be named honorary captain to what has turned out to be one of the Hogs' most significant SEC wins since joining the conference.
* I am not up all that knowledgeable on current country music recording artists, but the guy who sang the national anthem sounded a lot like the twang of a country star I used to follow, Randy Travis.
* The banners were confined to just regular old advertizing this go around. No politicians. No fire the coach. And there is no truth to the rumor that a bunch of LSU fans flew a banner after darkness had fallen that had anything to do with Les Miles' tenure at LSU. haha.
* Aesthetically Speaking: Painting is pretty much my chief hobby these days. And I think my fellow painters in the crowd were probably also just blown over by the pure colors on display. The intense green of the field. The horizon to horizon pure blue of the sky. The sun shining on our red uniforms, helmets in particular. I have to admit the purple and gold looked wonderful in the sun as well. I think Van Gogh would have loved to have set up his easel in the press box. The purple and gold really would have appealed to him. As great as your television reception is, nothing can really replace the world is aglow feeling that you get from being at War Memorial on a sunny fall afternoon.
* Cliff Lee and his family led a Hog Call early in the game. I don't think they mentioned on the CBS broadcast that Cliff has generously given a million dollars to Arkansas Childrens Hospital where his son was treated for cancer. They didn't mention it at the game either. But I had read of his generousity in the paper.
* And I would say nothing can really replace the collective joy of being surrounded by 50,000 plus people celebrating a touchdown with you. It truly is electrifying. Knile Davis' first touchdown was at our end of the field and we in the North Endzone started the explosion of joy that went around the stadium, only interrupted by areas of purple and gold.
* I recalled the big day Cobi Hamilton had last year against MSU at War Memorial. I had a pre-game thought of maybe he'll repeat himself. haha. And did he ever! Putting it in baseball terms seems appropiate, actually, in describing the day. It was a day when we hit home runs more than doubles and triples. But then in the fourth quarter we did steadily round the bases in a drive that took just over six very important minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter.
* Trends: The Hogs have a negative trend over the last two games of turning the ball right back over after getting it ourselves from a turnover. A significant trend was broken in that there were no false starts and the penalties (just two for 17 yards) were the fewest this team has made all year. The trend of beating schools that previously beat Alabama continues (South Carolina, LSU). And finally, the trend of not losing to anybody outside of the state of Alabama continues as well.
* Some we still got to work on this numbers: The Hogs kickoff coverage gave LSU 187 yards on five kickoffs. The Hogs gained only 80 yards in six kickoffs. Towards the end of the game I wasn't the only one in the North Endzone who was advocating for just kicking it out of pounds and letting LSU start on the forty yard line. I give credit to Tejada for forcing Patrick Trindon Holliday Peterson out of bounds when needed. But why was he even kicking to him in the first place?
* I mentioned in a previous comment that I would love to see a repeat of the 1998 LSU game in Little Rock when the Hogs just had the game won going away early. The beatdown on Markham. It wasn't like that. But the Hogs did put up two pass plays of over 80 yards. And the last time that happened was with Stoerner and Lucas / Eubanks in the 1998 LSU game.
* I will admit that I was thinking the Hogs would just take a knee and go into the half 14-14. Oh, how happy I was not to have a headset in this game, haha. And if you are an LSU fan, you have to say to yourself ironically, "Les Miles left too much time on the clock!" haha.
* This was the 8th time the Hogs have racked up a ten win season. 1977 and 1964 are our lone two eleven win seasons. Might we add 2010 to that list? I think it is highly possible if the Hogs take where they are at now as a team to the bowl game.
* Credit to the defense for holding LSU to field goals and doing some bending, but not breaking out there. The offense seemed to sputter at times, but the defense played more consistently well throughout the game. This was an LSU offense that was trending upwards before this game, and the Hogs held them to 23 points, three of which were more the responsibility of the special teams unit (Breeding's unforced error).
* This isn't the first time I've complained about War Memorial's inability to keep a scoreboard and a forty second clock running throughout a game. This isn't very complicated technology people. High schools across the country manage this without as much trouble. At one time the scoreboard had the score at zero to zero in the fourth quarter. God Forbid!
* Fear of the Night: Somehow LSU might pull off its own miracle on Markham. But the sacking of Jefferson and the resulting turnover put all thought of that out of my head. And finally the Hogs were able to just line up in the victory formation and take a knee. Some around me were yelling for the Hogs to run it in. I wasn't one of them. I would rather see us be good sports and not shoot a wounded Tiger when it isn't necessary. Those shots usually find a way to bounce back and hit you latter on. Such is the karma of football.
* The only time I've referenced Def Leopard in a post: Yeah, the stadium was singing "Pour Sugar On Me" at the end of the game. The players were jumping up in the air and bouncing off one another. The golden boot, a good kind of heavy, was being carried around by the team. From the recording I watched after getting home, I thought I saw Bobby Petrino even kiss a baby!
* We listened to the postgame on the radio as we drove through the darkened Arkansas landscape. It was nice to hear the intelligent post-game talk from Bobby Petrino and his coaches. No "I called that play, Brotha" business. Just strictly the business of talking about how the game transpired. Yeah, put me in the Bobby Petrino fan club along with Hog fans everywhere. I love the progress he has brought to this program year after year. I don't feel like we are on a roller coaster that just goes in circles.
* BIG PICTURE THOUGHTS: And so draws to a close the 2010 regular season (Tempus Fugit) and begins a week where we all hold our noses again and become Auburn fans in order to get that Sugar Bowl invite. It has been one amazing season, and it is one that I've enjoyed sharing with all of you here on this website, my old friends and expats in places as diverse as Wichita, Kansas, and West Monroe, Louisiana, and my family back in Arkansas, including my mother and War Memorial partner who I think is the quinessential Southern lady who loves her college football. Thanks for sharing the season with me. And now on to the bowl game and getting consecutive bowl wins for the first time in program history.