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Arkansas' Big Picture: Mississippi State Loss Not Huge But Certainly Unnecessary

What is it with us and wild finishes?

BA was brilliant again.
BA was brilliant again.
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The safe play was to try and score a touchdown.

I agree wholeheartedly with Doc, who provided the numbers to back it up. Given the current states of our quarterbacking and field goal kicking, it's a no brainer, chip shot or no. The fact that State was forced to burn its timeouts...almost meaningless in my eyes. The way its offense had been moving the ball, the Bulldogs wouldn't have needed any.

And the decision on 4th and 1, up 42-31 in the 3rd at the MSU 26, to pull out the trickeration and waste an opportunity... Just pick up the first there, keep the drive alive and likely score 7 to go up 18. That might've done it. Those two decisions and the one to leave BA in late at Mizzou last year will always leave me scratching my head.

All this said, I love Bret and his staff. Dan Enos has settled in and called a fantastic season. The offense on Saturday, again, was almost unstoppable. It's a rare night indeed when I'm calling for the offense to just go full-boar Big 12 mode and ditch the run. Allen and the receivers were brilliant. Brandon made a couple of throws I'm not sure Rodgers or Brady could've made.

Robb Smith, on the other hand, doesn't have a deep well with which to work. The D's general inability to slow down spread offenses is a glaring weakness. And I'm still a little baffled how we lost more battles than we won on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Downright surprised they shut our run game down though we did seem to be wearing ‘em down late.

While acknowledging our limitations on the defensive side of the ball, would it kill us to blitz more and play press coverage occasionally? Results couldn't get much worse. Dak's numbers, like BA's, were good. He's probably the best we've seen this year, outside of our own, but we didn't make him work very hard. Prescott sat in clean pockets most of the night and tossed the ball to receivers who looked lonely they were so open.

And special teams... Hedlund has gotten better with his lift, but the guys up front have got to give him some help. Saw it live and haven't bothered to watch a replay, but it sure seems like MSU got penetration. [Editor's note: they did. Easily.] Still, I have almost zero confidence in us to kick a field goal in most situations.

At least Baker was booming punts, and Reed is gonna break one eventually.


We still have a lot to play for, the big picture not impacted dramatically with this loss, heartache notwithstanding. The Citrus Bowl is probably is out, though, and it may have been a long shot anyway. But a win this week in what's forecast to be a cold, wet slop is imperative. Not just to exact some revenge and help inch this thing closer to being an actual rivalry, but to keep us out of Shreveport or Birmingham and to save the forward momentum What is it with us and wild finishes?generated in Oxford and Baton Rouge.

We need another offseason of upward trending, even if a slow start kept us from all but meeting basic expectations this season. A strong finish against Misery and in the bowl game will serve as a sort of reboot with the caveat that the November Hogs (defense notwithstanding) were the real Hogs that could've put up 9 or 10 this season.

The 51-50 loss on Saturday night to the tables of Stark-Vegas hurts. Another gut punch, and I challenge any fan base to tally as many of those as we have in the last five years.

Under the circumstances, though, it wasn't a big picture killer. On Sept. 27, bowl eligibility was looking iffy at best. I could do another trip to Memphis with Hog fans filling up the Liberty Bowl.