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LSU 20, Arkansas 13: The Game That Was and the Season That Wasn't

The game was close, too close for us to remember that heart-racing feeling that can happen at the end of football games, but the Razorbacks found a way to put us right back to this season's comfort place.

Wesley Hitt

It's over. Finished. Complete. Final. Ended. Done. Its time has kicked the bucket.

Never again will John L. Smith grace Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium with his tucked-in pull-over and useless headset, nor will another Petrino take the field , or press box, as a coach in Fayetteville.

As of 6:23 p.m. EST, the Petrino era, by way of a 20-13 loss to LSU, came to an anticipated end.

Looking at the final score it may be easy to take the loss a little easier. This Arkansas team lost by only seven to a Bayou Bengal squad that took Alabama to the final possession and forced Texas A&M's soon-to-be Heisman winner Johnny Manziel to throw three picks.

With the way this year's Hogs have played it is hard to imagine we would be disappointed. However, the Razorbacks found a new way to lose on their last chance at a win in 2012.

Take into account a Dennis Johnson fumble on the LSU 2-yardline on the first possession of the game, the team's unsportsmanlike conduct during a timeout that occurred just before what would have been a third-and-four for LSU, two missed field goals, and a classic, against the grain, John L. decision to kick a field goal on fourth-and-goal on the one, and you have a different ballgame. A game which would look much more pleasing to those of you who read this site.

Arkansas' first-half possessions were a fumble, interception, punt, punt, field goal, field goal, and the Razorbacks were still within one score of sending this game to overtime.

John L.'s fourth-and-one call was controversial and will be what this game was remembered for. A fullback had gone down on second down and a guard was limping off the field after third down, but if you are going to win this game, as Jake Bequette said, you have to at least try for six points, not three. The John L. era all wrapped into 40 seconds of chaos was in that call. Typical.

The Hogs did make the field goal and won the second half, which is something they haven't been able to do this season.

Tyler Wilson threw for 359 yards and a touchdown and led a drive in the season's waning minute and a half to give the Razorbacks a chance to tie up the game. He also unloaded on some coaches after having to call an avoidable timeout. One would think by the 12th game of the season, the team would have the whole "get the play to the quarterback" down. We know better. Wilson also knew better on the last play of the game as he took us all out of our misery and overthrew a pass to the end zone which could have forced overtime.

The good news to take away is to know that those kids out there did not quit. A freshman-loaded defense played significant minutes and held LSU to under 90 yards rushing.

No matter how bad it got this season, they pushed through all of the crap that was flung their way, like they were the windshield of a car on a two-way road behind a chicken truck. There were times this season that it looked as if they were not giving it their all, but at that point were any of us?

This season was dreadful, no away around it.

Everyone in the program would have told you the same thing, but in this season of Thanksgiving, I want to thank the players for muddling their way through the 2012 season and giving us some of the better times in Arkansas history (the program's first BCS bowl appearance, a Cotton and Liberty bowl win, and a $40 million football operations complex).

While the coaching staff present and previous may not be able to say the same thing, this class made Arkansas football better.


A native of Arkansas now calling the Hogs from yonder in Georgia, you can follow Graham on Twitter @grahamreaves or read his blog, On My Mind In Georgia.