It's hard to believe, but Arkansas hasn't beaten Mississippi State - in football - in four years.
The Razorbacks took full advantage of the Bulldogs' down stretch, which was pretty much a decade throughout the 2000s. The only hiccup came in Bobby Petrino's first season in 2008. By the time Petrino built the program to its peak under his tenure, in 2010, it was easy to look past the Bulldogs.
Arkansas entered the last few games of the season knowing if they won out, there was a good chance they'd go to the Sugar Bowl. It wasn't an easy task games against eventual SEC East champ South Carolina and the home finale against LSU loomed, and those were the two games most seemed to think the Hogs would be most vulnerable for. However, as usual, common logic proved to be wrong as Mississippi State came agonizingly close to ruining Arkansas' BCS run.
Fans shouldn't have looked past the Bulldogs. They came into the game 7-3 and ranked 21st in the nation. Sure enough, they gave the Hogs a helluva fight. It was a loud night game in Starkville and the Bulldogs kept up with Arkansas the whole way, including taking a 21-17 lead into halftime.
Ryan Mallett was visibly frustrated (shocker, I know) by the time he finally connected with Jarius Wright for an 89-yard touchdown late in the third quarter that put Arkansas ahead. The Razorbacks pushed their lead to 10 in the middle of the fourth quarter when Knile Davis capped off a 10-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
It looked like it would be gravy for Arkansas from that point on, but not the case, man. Not the case. The Bulldogs drove down the field to answer with their own drive, this one 14 plays, to cut the lead to three points. Arkansas still had the ball with the chance to finish the game, but Knile Davis fumbled near midfield with less than two minutes to go. The Bulldogs drove down for a field goal as time expired to send the game to overtime.
Overtime was quite nearly a disaster. Mississippi State took the ball first and Vick Ballard was heading straight for the end zone when Jerico Nelson went in to hit him just before the goal line, but his helmet hit the ball and knocked it out of bounds after it fell into the end zone. A touchback! Hey, it's a stupid rule, but it's a rule.
Arkansas, for possibly the only time in the Bobby Petrino era, played somewhat conservatively on their ensuing drive since a field goal would have won the game. They set it up perfectly but freshman Zack Hocker missed it, pushing the game into a second overtime after the rare 0-0 overtime result. Mallett connected with Davis for a 7-yard touchdown, and the defense hit Chris Relf on 4th down to force a stop and win the game.
The Razorbacks escaped, in every sense of the word.
Mallett was 17-for-26 for 305 yards, three touchdowns, and a pick. Knile Davis was right in the middle of his tear to end the season, racking up 187 yards on 30 carries and scoring three touchdowns.
It was a game that, even though Arkansas never put the game away for good until the last play, I never felt Arkansas would lose, but I was never comfortable. Nerves were pretty constant, however. It proved you could never take a team lightly, and that applies for this weekend as well. Arkansas is favored, but it's by just a few points, and Dak Prescott is really good. I think Arkansas will win, but could see it being something of a frustrating game for a while. We'll see. I also think's it's possible Arkansas' offense is just too hot right now.