This is the second in a week-long series of posts sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011.
It was a team that began its season with another nationally televised bloodletting at the hands of the USC Trojans and ended it with a heartbreaking three-game losing streak. And it was a squad dominated by an ugly quarterback controversy that would help pave the way for the head coach's departure one year later.
Yes, at first glance, the 2006 Razorbacks might seem like a strange pick for my favorite Arkansas football team. But in my more than 25 years of following Hog football, I've never had more fun.
For starters, there was that glorious 10-game winning streak. Sure, the Hogs caught a couple of lucky breaks - i.e., Vanderbilt and Alabama - but after the lost years of 2004 and 2005, I was just happy to see the Razorbacks win in any shape, form or fashion. Included in that streak are two of my all-time favorite victories: the 27-10 dismantling of then-No.2 Auburn in Auburn and the 31-14 thumping of then-No. 13 Tennessee in Fayetteville (that was the day that ESPN's College GameDay was broadcast from the U of A campus).
And fueling it all was the dynamic duo of running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. Arkansas has had its fair share of exciting players over the years, but in my humble opinion, never have the Hogs been armed with such a compelling one-two punch. (Watching those two shred defenses who knew they were the Hogs' only real offensive weapons was enough to prevent the following season - so disappointing in so many ways - from being a total bummer.)
One week after pounding the Vols, the Hogs, by then ranked No. 5 in the country, defeated Mississippi State to clinch the SEC West championship and stretch the winning streak to 10 games. Incredibly, Arkansas at that point was on the fringes of the national championship picture, a place no one could have imagined they would be when they opened the year by getting pounded 50-14 by USC.
Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there, as the Razorbacks would close the year with blood-pressure-spiking and soul-crushing losses to LSU, Florida and Wisconsin to finish with a 10-4 record.
For some, the bad of that season may outweigh the good. That, I completely understand. But, in my years of fandom, the Arkansas teams that have been nationally relevant have been few and far between. And rare is the time when a program features two running backs as insanely good as McFadden and Jones.
Heartbreak may have been the 2006 squad's destination, but their journey was unforgettably exciting.
Enough from me. What is your favorite Razorback football team of all time?