For all the raucous energy and insanity that takes place in a major college football stadium during a game, for all the emotional momentum swings caused when inexplicable things happen over the course of three and a half hours, for the giant mass of humanity that fills a ridiculously large stadium a few times each year, it's amazing how quickly the thing can empty.
After the press conferences have been completed and we make our way back to the press box, looking over a now empty and quiet stadium, it's hard to imagine any what happened, actually happened.
And that's how this game was. It left far more questions than answers. Why? How? How did that happen? Why did those things happen? When will they stop happening. While there's certainly plenty of anger among Razorback fans tonight coming to grips with yet another blown fourth quarter lead, I've become simply stunned, or perhaps a state of woozy near-delirium.
I can't explain what happened other than reiterating all the same mistakes that everybody already knows. The extra point that was blocked. The touchdown that was fumbled through the end zone for a touchback. The field goal attempt that never was because of a bad snap. Interceptions dropped.
The Razorbacks under Bret Bielema always aim to wear down their opponents with a physical style of play, fans are the ones leaving the game worn down with another defeat.
It seems so simple to fix the easy things, and that's what's frustrating. This isn't a bad team getting blown out. It's a good team shooting itself in the tusk.
Alabama played its losing game plan to a tee. They were awful on special teams, fumbling away two punt returns and missing a field goal. They fumbled two other times but Arkansas was unable to take possession. They made uncharacteristic mistakes like bringing 12 players onto the field following a time out.
Nick Saban said after the game he couldn't explain why those things happen. Never has.
I'm not going to try to explain why Arkansas made the mistakes they made. Arkansas held Alabama to only 66 rushing yards and 161 passing yards. The Razorbacks had 89 rushing yards and 246 passing yards. The Hogs gained 112 more yards overall. Arkansas picked up 18 first downs to Alabama's 10. Arkansas converted 5 more 3rd downs, ran 26 more plays and held the ball for about nine more minutes. Arkansas had two fewer three-and-outs. The two teams would have been even on turnovers if not for Allen's late interception.
By all conceivable measures, Arkansas outplayed Alabama. They just made too many mistakes to beat them.
It defies logic. It doesn't make sense. I think this Arkansas team is really pretty good. I'd like to think they can beat Georgia next week. I want to believe this team can finally put it all together. But how much of this can anybody take? A lot of people are going to be there, myself included. And Arkansas will do something again. Can't rule anything out. Lots of things could happen. Just about anything would be believable.
I was one of the more pessimistic people this week regarding Arkansas' chances to beat Alabama. Despite all the hoopla around the 1964 celebration and the stripe out that was mostly ruined by rain, I couldn't see the Hogs matching up well with the Tide. I was wrong. I never expected Arkansas' defense would hold them to 14 points. I never expected Arkansas' offense to control most of the game. But it did. The Razorbacks have proven over six games they can play. They've earned a ton of respect.
A few things do make sense. Arkansas struggled to get decent field position throughout the game. Their average starting position was 11 yards farther back than Alabama's. In the second half, five of Arkansas' seven drives began inside their own 20-yard line. Of the two that weren't, one resulted in Brandon Allen's touchdown pass to A.J. Derby. The other resulted in the 4th down stop on 4th-and-1.
A lot of people will probably complain about Arkansas abandoning the run again, but the Tide were shutting down the run game pretty completely after halftime. The Hogs did run the ball 13 times in the second half, but gained just five yards. That's it. The Hogs' only chance was through the air, and the passing game simply isn't good enough to sustain many drives against a team like Alabama when it starts inside its own 20-yard line that frequently.
But all that said, Arkansas had its opportunities in the first half and didn't take advantage. Much like the A&M game, these Hogs aren't a bad team struggling to hang on when they get a lead like last year. This is a team that needs to hold onto the ball for a split second longer to cross the goal line or kick an extra point or snap the ball to the holder to give a field goal kicker at least a chance. That's all. The little things. Details.
But until then, everyone's just waiting on them to do it. The effort is there. The development is there. Just dot the i's and cross the t's and everyone will call the Hogs.