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Putting the Sugar Bowl in the Rearview Mirror

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Back in September 2007, when this blog was just a month old and we were toiling in even more obscurity than we are right now, I wrote the following the morning after the Hogs' devastating 41-38 loss to Alabama:

Well ... that sucked.

Although the circumstances were very different, I felt every bit as deflated after last night's game as I did after [the 1998 loss to Tennessee]. Immediately afterward, I was wishing that the Hogs had just gotten blown out instead of losing in such heartbreaking fashion.

That sentiment already has faded.

It's been replaced by pride in the Hogs' comeback and by a recognition that last night's game was One for the Ages. Sure, the Razorbacks ultimately played the losing role, but their rally will make football fans remember and talk about the game for years to come. …

All of which is not to say that I'm looking forward to watching a replay of the game anytime soon - just that the authorities now are allowing me to be around sharp objects and to put the laces back into my shoes.

As for my reaction to the Sugar Bowl loss — as fans of a certain talk jock might say — "megadittos."

On second thought, drop the "mega." The majority of my reaction is pride in the Hogs' crazy comeback, but a painfully close loss in a BCS bowl is going to sting a little longer than a painfully close early-season defeat. Like all of us, I feel that the program is on a big, big upswing. Still, getting to a BCS bowl requires a decent helping of luck in addition to being good, and you can't count on making it that far that often. Got to win 'em when you can.

A few other random thoughts about the game and the season:

• And so the Hogs fail yet again to post a bowl-game win in back-to-back seasons. The apocalypse will have to wait.

• Speaking of the Hogs in bowl games: last year, Arkansas finally managed to win a bowl game, but played pretty terribly. This year, they lost but, in the second half at least, looked pretty good. Perhaps someday the unthinkable will happen: a well-played bowl-game victory. A man can dream, can't he?

• From the way-back file: did the Sugar Bowl remind anyone of the 1990 Cotton Bowl between the Razorbacks and Tennessee? The Vols lead that one 31-13 in the fourth quarter before holding off a great Razorback rally to win 31-27. Hopefully, the similarities end there, though, and Bobby Petrino won't bolt for Clemson in the coming days. I'm guessing he won't.

• I'd like to echo my colleage KevinHog's comments about D.J. Williams. What a class act. He will truly be missed. Fortunately for us, while his Razorback career is at an end, D.J.'s always entertaining Twitter feed lives on.

• Brian Gunn, creator of an unfortunately now-defunct St. Louis Cardinals blog and one of my all-time favorite bloggers, once wrote of Cardinal games: "It’s not that I don’t enjoy the games for what they are, but they’re more than just games. They’re portholes into my past, my memories, my shared experiences with loved ones."

I feel exactly that way about Razorback games, and I won't be able to think about the 2010 season without reflecting on some big moments in my life. On the morning of the overtime win over Mississippi State, I got engaged. I definitely had some extra pep in my step as I rooted the Hogs on to victory that evening.

And unfortunately, a few days before the Auburn game, my 12-year-old Australian Shepherd Cosmo (the handsome fella in my profile pic) died, apparently the victim of a hyper-aggressive form of cancer of the spleen. Forget narrow losses in bowl games: that was truly heartbreaking.

He was by my side while I watched countless Hog games over the years, and he had the kindness to not judge me harshly as I often flailed about like a total idiot in reaction to some good or bad development. It still feels weird to watch the games without him. He will forever be missed in my family.

And on a more upbeat note, thanks a bunch for reading our blog and making comments during this season. Talking about the team with you all is definitely one of my favorite memories of this season.

Now, who's ready for the basketball season? Anyone ... anyone?