This was one of the most fun experiences I've ever had as a Razorback fan. I also credit this as the game that hooked The Wife on college football. It's a big deal in our house.
Once upon a time, a top ten Razorback team traveled to Tuscaloosa to take on an unranked Alabama team. Repeat that sentence to yourself. They weren't even really olden times. It was still the 21st Century. I was in college. Five Harry Potter books had been published already.
The Hogs went into the game 3-0 featuring a major victory over Texas in Austin. Alabama was 2-2. I distinctly recall one of the studio analysts on CBS just before kickoff predicting a two-touchdown victory for the Razorbacks.
That didn't quite happen. Arkansas took the early lead on a classic Matt Jones keeper down the sideline for the 39-yard score. The Tide came back and tied the game at halftime, then took over in the third quarter, going up 31-10 in less than eight minutes. Two of the scores were a 71-yard pass and an 80-yard touchdown run from Shaud Williams.
I admit, I thought it was over. It was a brutal knockout combo. I left my house and went to a get-together on my school's campus. Most of us were hanging around outside grilling and whatnot, and the game was still on inside, and then things started to get crazy.
Cedric Cobbs scored a touchdown in the third quarter, which I didn't even see or really hear about. Later in the fourth quarter, Arkansas recovered a fumble and Jones completed a 28-yard pass to Steven Harris, which set up a 2-yard touchdown with 8:37 left. The crowd inside watching the game started to make some noise, so I went in to see what was going on. OHMIGOD ARKANSAS WAS ONLY DOWN 7!
At this point, everybody comes in, gathers around the TV, and watches the rest of the game. Sure enough, Arkansas would get one more real shot.
The drive started on the Arkansas 21-yard line, and the first play featured future NFL 1st Round wide receiver Jones throwing a 21-yard pass to future NFL All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters. The Hogs were moving.
Arkansas faced a 4th-and-4 a few plays later, but Jones converted with a 7-yard pass to Harris. The Razorbacks then set up a 1st-and-goal when Cedric Cobbs converted a 3rd-and-1. The clock was ticking inside a minute to go, so this was it. Arkansas kept driving to a 2nd-and-goal on the three-yard line when Jones found Richard Smith in the back of the end zone to tie the game. Of course, everyone in the room went BANANAS - including The Wife (who then was The Girlfriend). She was into it from that point on.
Despite the big comeback, Arkansas nearly gave it all away in overtime. The Hogs ended up with a 4th-and-25 from the 40-yard line. It was bad. They had to go for a hail mary because they were too far away to try a field goal. Of course, it came up short.
But then, let's talk about the time Arkansas got a major call from the refs in Tuscaloosa! The Tide were celebrating stopping Arkansas on the Hogs' possession and were flagged for excessive celebration, meaning their own drive started on the 40 instead of the 25. It proved to be costly as they ended up missing a field goal that would have won the game.
In second overtime, Jimarr Gallon intercepted a pass from Brodie Croyle, setting up the Hogs to win with just a field goal. Instead of settling for the long field goal attempt, the Hogs drove down to the 2-yard line for Chris Balseiro to make the chip shot field goal and give Arkansas the unlikely victory.
We celebrated in that living room like we'd won the national title. It was amazing.
Afterward, Nutt was Nutt: "Oh, my goodness! We all saw an awesome game."
Alabama coach Mike Shula was more Dickensian: "What a game of highs and lows, a game of emotions, a game of brilliance at times for us, a game of lost poise at times."
The win pushed Arkansas up to #7 in the polls heading into October with a 4-0 record.
And then...everything went to hell for Houston Nutt, like, for four years straight.