As we've mentioned before, we here at Arkansas Expats Inc. are big believers in talk therapy. With that in mind, I'd like to take a few minutes to discuss my most painful memories of Razorback bowl defeats.
It's around this time every year that my dreams become haunted by visions of Cotton Bowls, Independence Bowls and Music City Bowls past. All too often, I toss and turn throughout the night, only to wake up screaming to a bed drenched in sweat. My appetite vanishes, and I become even paler and thinner than usual.
Clearly, I need to unburden myself a little. Therefore, here's a ranking of the Razorback bowl defeats that torture me the most:
1. 2000 Las Vegas Bowl - UNLV 31, Arkansas 14. I'm not sure this entry needs much elaboration: getting embarrassed by a terrible program in a terrible bowl speaks for itself, and this game is almost certainly the low point of the Hogs' pathetic bowl history.
But what made this game doubly painful is that, heading into the contest, the Razorbacks appeared to be very well positioned to win a bowl game for the second consecutive season, an occurrence that many ancient mystics predicted would signal the end of time. However, Houston Dale made the very wise decision to not impose a curfew for the first few nights the team was in Sin City, and a seemingly exhausted Hog team proved no match for the motivated Rebels.
2. 2007 Capital One Bowl - Wisconsin 17, Arkansas 14. The often exhilarating 2006 season came to a numbing conclusion with this thud of a bowl game, which capped a disappointing season-ending three-game losing streak. Unlike most of their bowl losses, the Hogs actually played pretty well in this game - by some measures at least. They had more first downs than Wisconsin, gained more total yards than the Badgers (368 to 201) and had 232 rushing yards compared to Wisconsin's -5. Yes, you read that right: the Badgers rushed for minus five yards! Which makes me ask - for approximately the 4,000th time - "How did the Razorbacks lose this game!?!"
3. 1989 Cotton Bowl - UCLA 17, Arkansas 3. All you need to know: Arkansas managed a whopping four first downs and 42 yards of total offense.
4. 1995 Carquest Bowl - North Carolina 20, Arkansas 10. Getting whipped by the Tar Heels in a postseason basketball game is one thing: getting whipped by their gridiron counterparts in something called the Carquest Bowl is entirely another. Just as they would 11 seasons later, the Hogs finished a surprising, SEC West-winning season with a demoralizing three-game losing streak.
5. 2011 Sugar Bowl - Ohio State 31, Arkansas 26. The reason this heart-breaker doesn't rank higher is that the Hogs showed admirable grit in the second half, battling their way back after getting pounded in the first 30 minutes and trailing 28-10 at the half. Still, Julian Horton's failure to scoop up the ball after that blocked punt and run it into the end zone and Ryan Mallett's last-minute interception will long have me reaching for a St. John's Wort-Kava Kava herbal cocktail.
Ahh - I feel better already! But that's enough from me. It's time for you to indulge in a little talk therapy: What are your worst Razorback bowl memories?