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Arkansas vs Ole Miss: Razorbacks Cross a Threshold

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If the streak-buster against LSU was a TKO, then the beatdown of top 10 Ole Miss on Saturday in front of hearty and happy Hog fans was a knockout.

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Thresholds can be fascinating things, really.

The thresholds represented by marriage and parenthood, for example. Points at which our lives are permanently altered by significant events. And we usually associate them with positive changes. (As for those two examples, let’s hope so anyway.)

The Arkansas Razorback football program, if not the entire Hog brand itself, has crossed a significant threshold. If any doubt lingered, it was put to rest on Saturday.

If nothing else, Razorback fans learned beginning in April 2012 that nothing is guaranteed. The lesson was a long slough of humility, exasperation…disbelief.

Going forward, it’s doubtful many Razorback fans will feel entitled, as perhaps some of us began to feel in the aftermath of the impressive 2012 Cotton Bowl win that resulted in a No. 5 final ranking and a top 10 start to the 2012 season.

We marveled at CBP’s house of cards, pretty as J-Wright on a post but vulnerable to storms, as represented by the big boys of the SEC West, and Warhawk ambushes.

And we’ve watched as Coach B and his fellow coach/masons built the foundation, brick by jumbo package brick, and lifted the program into position to cross that threshold. Moving forward, Razorback football appears suited to weather those storms and even brew some of its own.

A few observations:

  • Atwater, Hamlin, Kennedy, Bua…Rohan Gaines.
  • Speaking of, the pick 6. My first thought, thinking the pick was made further back in the end zone, was "Just down it." 26, however, was ready to ride his "sea of red." That one will go down in Hog lore. Seriously, an all-time great highlight. From potentially 20-7 and sweating it out to 27-0 and ball game. It’s amazing – astounding really – how drastically the play of our defensive backs has improved.
  • That image of a white Hog against a cardinal background as represented on our helmets…it still makes my heart race. Nothing more beautiful.
  • Saw us break the streak with my oldest son at my side. Went to Ole Miss at my dad's side. Both games included moments of jumping up and down in ecstasy and other expressions of joy, blissfully shared with each. For that, I’m truly thankful.
  • I'll confess that I wondered if 17-0 at half was gonna be a big enough cushion. Silly me. And even though garbage time enabled Ole Miss to just surpass us in total yardage, like LSU, the outcome was no fluke. And we mostly did it with our backup QB.
  • Surely, it's obvious by now that "normal American football" can defeat HUNH, can hold up better for the long haul, and that it can be done at Arkansas.
  • Wasn't a full house (weather...again), but the recording of the game on Sunday confirmed what I knew to be the case on game day: The crowd, the waterlogged diehards who were there, was loud.
  • Trey Flowers: Well done, young man. The game, the season, the career. And senior class.....Take a bow. Any future success will reflect back on your sacrifice, perseverance and faith.
So, things change now. Coaches who spent the better part of two years applying duct tape to the team's psyche, massaging and reinforcing, must manage expectations suddenly awash in praise as steady as Saturday's rain.

Funny how quickly things can change. But really, this change has been coming, gradual and eventual. We're bowl eligible, and for the rest of 2014 anyway, it's all gravy. Missouri, the bowl. Gravy.

Of course, there remains a bigger picture to help bring into focus. Two more wins to close out 2014 would set up a season as highly anticipated, perhaps, as any we've ever had save maybe a select few.

But for now, that gravy --- absolutely earned -- tastes pretty good, doesn't it?