Brought to you once more courtesy of Bob Marley, Tito's Vodka, and the siren call of normal, sensible American football to Bret Bielema. Try as he might to resist, the allure of working the clock and centering the football and kicking the game-winning chip shot field goal was just too beautifully rational. That was the play. That's what you do. You just have to execute.
Everyone else in Razorback Stadium, however, saw Raymond Babbitt abruptly leaving the blackjack table he was killing to stare, enchanted, at the blinking lights of a spinning prize wheel.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING, BERT???YOU LEARNED HOW TO COUNT CARDS AND YOU'RE TAKING THE HOUSE AND YOU TURNED BRANDON ALLEN INTO A TOUCHDOWN THROWING CYBORG AND YOU HAVE A MOUNTAIN OF CHIPS AND SHOWGIRLS ARE WATCHING YOU AND YOU LEAVE THE TABLE TO PLAY FOR A FIELD GOAL???
I'm fine being in the minority on this, but I really didn't have a problem with how the final drive played out. Timeouts are such valuable currency in those scenarios that you have to force your opponent to use theirs whenever you get an opportunity to do so. It's not a trust issue. It's a numbers issue. That's the percentage play. That's how I would expect the game to play out if I were an impartial observer. That is absolutely how that scenario plays out in the NFL. It leaves your opponent the fewest out cards. Sometimes the river burns you even when you've made the smart play.
Though I take the minority opinion, I totally accept the validity of the idea that Enos and Bielema should have been more aggressive. Arkansas has been able to score touchdowns at will inside the red zone for the past month, and forcing Mississippi State to score a touchdown instead of a field goal with less than a minute would have been a huge, huge thing. So I get it. I agree to a large extent. I just cannot excoriate Bert for making the safe call after mocking him all season for making the reckless one.
There are just about no more football type words for me to write with regard to the Razorbacks' performance. It's the same players doing great things on offense and the same deficiencies getting brutalized on defense and Arkansas just keeps ratcheting up the intensity of both in each successive game. Oh, you've come around to the idea of Brandon Allen being a pretty good quarterback? Well here's SEVEN TOUCHDOWN PASSES to hammer that home a little more. Oh, the defense has serious problems at linebacker and with stopping spread offenses? Here's 631 total yards and seven touchdowns from a Mississippi State team who scored nary a one last week against Alabama.
I would like to know why Alex Collins was bottled up for much of the night and how a Mississippi State offensive line that surrendered nine sacks last week kept Dak Prescott so clean last night. How it is that Drew Morgan does what he does period, much less doing it while injured. I'd like to know how we could possibly be so bad at kicking the ball over the bar and between the posts and scoring three points. But those are all things that I don't know right now, because yesterday was my 34th birthday and I celebrated by trying to convince my body that it was my 24th birthday, but my body is sneaky smart and was having NONE. OF. THAT.
My hands are shaky and my vision is blurry and oh, hey, let me try to pick out the salient moments of a game that had 14 touchdowns and 101 points. Can't do it. I do know that I watched Dak Prescott lock up first team All-SEC and I should have watched Brandon Allen cement second team. I watched yet another SEC shootout go down to the wire. I feel like the Hogs have played the exact same game at least four times this year and they are entertaining as hell, but, man, you get to a point of diminishing returns from an analytical standpoint.
Any outrage from me would be totally manufactured because A) it's the same defensive issues that have been discussed all season that have not gotten better and were not going to get better during the season, B) it was absolutely fun as hell to watch, and C) it really doesn't matter that much. Win next week and finish 7-5 and probably play in the same bowl. Maybe the loss keeps you out of the Citrus Bowl, but I just don't think it's that big of a deal.
This is another thing that I'm fine being in the minority on, but this was just not a crushing loss for me. Arkansas was riding an angry bull of good play and good fortune, and they were finally bucked off. But they more than made the horn. It was a great stretch. And next week Missouri comes to town and the Hogs get to enact some revenge from last year. Win the game. Finish 7-5. Go to a bowl that's not in Birmingham or Shreveport. When you think about what this team has been faced with this season, that's a good year. Just make sure you don't lose to Missouri.
I'll see y'all next week.
Trent Wooldridge will be that guy with enough bourbon. He loves the S-E-C chant and honks because he hates Texas. He puts honey on his pizza, demands aisle seats, and sees quitting golf as more of a hobby than actually playing golf. Follow @twooldridge and track his quest to transform his five-year-old into a southpaw ace in the bigs.