I'm not sure where to start.
24-7 midway in the third quarter.
Most all the points in this game came unconventionally. Pick 6. Punt return. Trick play after a fumble. 33-yard touchdown on 4th-and-12.
Nothing makes sense.
On one hand, the Razorbacks flat gave the game away. They won the turnover battle 3-0, including the pick-6. The Hogs dropped a couple of others. Tons of sacks. Arkansas' defensive line was dominant enough that announcers openly endorsed an apparent strategy to let the defense win the game for the Hogs in the fourth quarter (a strategy it's safe to say, FAILED).
Of course, we have to note, Arkansas was forced to start their backup quarterback A.J. Derby after Brandon Allen injured his shoulder last week, but even though Derby is clearly not that great, and threw some pretty terrible passes, it's hard to blame him for losing the game. And I was really afraid the headline for this story could be "A.J. DERPy".
Arkansas had a 24-14 lead with Rutgers backed up to their two yard line. The four previous drives, Rutgers went fumble, punt, punt, and punt. The Scarlet Knights scored in six plays. They had pass plays of 25, 42, and the scoring play was a 33 yard throw on fourth down.
At that point, the momentum was completely gone. The Razorback offense struggled all day. There were only two decent drives - one that ended in a field goal early in the game, and the opening drive of the second half that resulted in Javontee Herndon's touchdown. Other than those drives, no Arkansas drive reached more than 6 plays except for the final drive, which included 7 plays (all passes, which will get questioned).
The Hogs only gained 283 yards the whole day (Rutgers gained 400). Derby was 14/26 (not awful) for 137 yards and no interceptions. But the rushing game was stagnant. Alex Collins led with 63 yards on 23 carries, Jonathan Williams only gained 25 on 12 carries (and it's a shame his touchdown pass to Hunter Henry won't be better remembered).
Gary Nova deserves a ton of credit for keeping his head in the game after all the sacks and hurries he went through to lead the last couple of scoring drives. He was 22 of 43 for 346 yards. And he took a beating.
But Arkansas fans have plenty to question this week as SEC play begins.
All those penalties? On Rutgers' first scoring drive, they would have faced a 3rd-and-21 but Jarrett Lake's personal foul gave them new life, and they took full advantage. A drive late in the third quarter was stalled after a holding penalty when it looked like Alex Collins was starting to get going.
What's going to happen with the offense? How much of a difference could Brandon Allen have made? Why does Hunter Henry only catch two passes?
If Williams and Collins can't combine for 100 yards, can Brandon Allen make up the difference? It's hard to say at this point. But considering the teams coming up on Arkansas' schedule, it appears doubtful.
No way to get around it, things don't look good for the Hogs going forward. There's absolutely no evidence to suggest the Hogs can come close to hanging with A&M on offense next week. We know what's coming because we spent the off-season breaking down the schedule. Bowl hopes aren't completely dashed, but the odds are much longer now than they were when Arkansas was ahead 24-7.
But that great atmosphere we were hoping for against the Aggies next week...dammit.
If I had to compare this to another game, I think I'll pick the 2008 Kentucky game. And that night sucked.