Boot Bowl XX is in the books, and if the Razorbacks aren't careful, they're going to ruin this series' reputation for producing close games with crazy endings.
Arkansas went down to Death Valley at night, that mythical setting where dreams supposedly go to die, for just the second time ever and absolutely wrecked it.
LSU made it very clear going into the game, as they always do, that they don't consider this a rivalry and don't care about the trophy. That's good, because getting blown out at home by an unranked team would otherwise be quite embarrassing. Good to know it isn't that big of a deal to them. Arkansas has now won 5 of the last 9 games in this series, not that they're too concerned about that or anything.
LSU scored just before and just after halftime (Seriously, Hogs, how do this happen four times in a row. Let's work on that.), but otherwise, were completely shut down, and the Razorbacks were able to put enough big plays together to come out with a convincing victory.
Arkansas scored on big plays from Dominique Reed, Alex Collins, and Jared Cornelius, but the big story tonight is the Razorback defense. They've deservedly taken a lot of heat for the last few weeks, and the hope was they'd return to form against a pro-style offense, and they more than delivered.
The Hogs ranked near the bottom of the country coming into the game after only accumulating a paltry eight sacks, but the Razorbacks got to Brandon Harris with authority, sacking him five times. Deatrich Wise alone was responsible for 2.5 of them.
Getting to Harris caused LSU to stay in passing situations much of the night, meaning they weren't able to churn out long drives with Leonard Fournette. The Tigers' superstar running back was held to 91 yards on 19 carries, not a bad night for most running backs but far short of his season averages.
The defense also set up what proved to be Arkansas' winning score. Brooks Ellis blitzed into the LSU backfield and flushed Harris out of the pocket, where he was sacked by Dre Greenlaw and fumbled. Ellis picked up the ball and set up the offense at the 11-yard line. Collins scored his second touchdown two plays later.
This much is clear. Many critics said Bret Bielema wouldn't be able to out-Alabama Alabama and out-LSU LSU. Well, the Hogs just dominated LSU for the second straight year, and while the victory over the Tide hasn't come yet, Arkansas has played them as well as almost anybody the last couple of years. If nothing else, consider this: Arkansas held both Fournette and Derrick Henry under 100 rushing yards.
Collins outplayed Fournette tonight. Thanks largely to an 80-yard touchdown sprint, he finished with 141 yards on 16 carries. He did lose a fumble, but it turned out not to be costly. He moved into third on Arkansas' all-time rushing yardage list.
Brandon Allen was not as sharp as he was in Oxford last week, but he made enough great throws. He only attempted 16 passes and completed 11. Reed's 52-yard catch-and-run that made LSU's defense look slow helped his numbers.
It was also great to see Cornelius, a Louisiana native, score the last touchdown on a big run. It was a beautiful play that essentially shut the door.
The win is Arkansas' third SEC road win of the season and set them up to go bowling. I admit, I didn't think it would happen after that horrific September, but here we are. It's a huge credit to the coaches and players for picking themselves up after that and getting to this point. The Hogs also eliminated any chance for LSU to make it to Atlanta and put the Hogs in a tie for 2nd place in the division.