Brought to you once again courtesy of Bob Marley, Tito's Vodka, and the satisfaction of every loan ever issued by the bank of We're Arkansas, Screw Us Over Please. The football gods are a capricious and entertaining bunch, but they live on credit just like the rest of us, and yesterday, finally, they found out that there was no more forbearance. Not with the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Backed by the unlikely muscle of Brandon Allen and Drew Morgan and Bret Bielema, the Razorbacks showed up at the door of the football gods, equipped with a crowbar and a very, very long ledger of key injuries and unlikely mishaps and miracle plays by opponents and officiating incompetence, repayment delinquent on all of them. And they started busting kneecaps.
"Remember Matt Jones' fumble against Texas in 2004? Trindon Holliday's kickoff return in 2006? The officiating at the 2009 Florida game? Yeah, we're going to need a 45-yard field goal from our kicker whose season long is 27. And throw in a Deatrich Wise sack on the Rebels potential game-winning drive."
"That's good, gods, very good. But not enough. It's 4th and 25 now. In overtime. Convert or lose. You still owe us for Reggie Fish. And for Bobby Petrino's motorcycle ride. For the totality of 2012, actually. DO YOU REMEMBER 2012, GODS? BECAUSE IT WAS A GOOD YEAR FOR YOU AND WE BANKROLLED MOST OF IT. And now it's 4th and 25. What've you got? Because we're thinking a completion short of the line to gain followed by a desperation lateral that gets tipped and bounces off the turf directly into the arms of one of our best running backs ever with a wall of blockers in front of him."
"Excellent. Throwing in that additional fumble at the end of the play was a nice touch. Unfortunately for you, we're in another tight spot. See, what happened was that Bert here decided to go for the win in the first overtime, and the play got blown up and Brandon Allen is, right this second, getting sacked to end the game. We're going to need a totally unnecessary penalty on Ole Miss to keep us alive. An accidental facemask would be perfect. Now we know that's a tall order, but we've been holding onto this one for a while. Remember the Stoernover? Yeah. Now cough up the flag"
"Remember the end of the Sugar Bowl against Ohio State? Allowing Troy Smith to win the Heisman over Darren McFadden? The Chronicles of Mitch Mustain? We're calling it all in. Pay up. On all of it. We need to win this game right now. Make it happen."
That's how it went down. Had to be. There is no other plausible explanation. Occam's Razorback. Let's talk some football.
The characterization of Brandon Allen as a choke artist is dead. It has been dead for some time, but as so often happens, we have been speaking of the label in death as if it is still with us. Brandon Allen is not a choke artist. He cast out that demon. It is dead. Has been dead, its dust choking the fan bases of Tennessee and Auburn and now Ole Miss. There is no more "Brandon Allen can't come through in the clutch." There is only "Brandon Allen didn't come through in the clutch this time." But we haven't said that recently because BRANDON ALLEN KEEPS COMING THROUGH IN THE CLUTCH. Heart-stopping, voice-stealing, record-setting performances in the clutch. Too many big plays to list. There is no diminishing this. Two weeks ago against Auburn he shut his detractors up, and yesterday inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium he strapped them to a chair and force-fed them crow until they could take no more and the words spilled from their lips. "Brandon Allen IS clutch. He IS an SEC quarterback. He might even be an All-SEC quarterback." And then Brandon Allen's teammates put him on their shoulders and carried him off the field.
What else? Alex Collins played his ass off and had another 100-yard game and surpassed 1000 yards on the season for the third time in his career. The horrendous CBS commentators kept expressing surprise that Arkansas wasn't piling up rushing yards while apparently oblivious to the fact that Collins was getting four to five yards at will and that the play-action passing game continued to work because Ole Miss was quite obviously terrified by the mere threat of Arkansas' rushing attack.
Receivers? I can't recall ever going from being uncertain about receivers to wondering who was actually left to catch passes to thinking that the Hogs probably have one of the better groups of receivers in the conference. Jared Cornelius reminds me of Jarius Wright in the way that he runs solid routes and makes tough catches. When Dominique Reed got on the field he started scoring touchdowns and hasn't stopped. Yesterday was his fifth consecutive game with a score. And just call Drew Morgan "Waffle House" because he is always open and will run right through you. Everyone from Greenwood told us about him from the beginning, and most of us thought they were crazy, but they were right. And that's not even talking about Hunter Henry and Jeremy Sprinkle working zones and working the flats and getting open when Brandon Allen desperately needed someone open.
Offensively, everyone did almost everything right yesterday. That's why they gained 605 yards and scored 53 points.
Defensively, everyone did almost everything wrong yesterday. That's why Ole Miss gained almost 600 yards and scored 52 points. I don't know what to say about it other than it stunk and the concerns about this game following poor performances against Auburn and Tennessee-Martin were justified. Robb Smith has a lot to fix.
With all of the craziness of yesterday, though, maybe the most important moment in the game was Bert listening to his, uh, gut, and calling for that two-point conversion. That was so huge, especially in light of the failed fake punts and failed fake field goals this year. It was the right call. Even if it had failed, it was the right call. If Arkansas had scored to tie the game with three seconds left instead of 53 seconds, he would have called it then. Bert knew that the only way Arkansas was going to win was to get the lead without leaving Ole Miss a chance to answer. Most everyone knew it, but not a lot of coaches would be able to pull the trigger. And that's what makes him Bert.
So. Arkansas is now 5-4 on the season, needing one more win to become bowl eligible, with LSU, Mississippi State, and Missouri left on the schedule. Six wins seems imminently doable, but LSU just got pummeled by Alabama, and Mississippi State is set to likely be pummeled by Alabama next week. Missouri is a complete train wreck. Why not win all three and finish 6-2 in the SEC? Arkansas may not be able to call in any more debts from the football gods, but it's November and the Hogs are rounding into a pretty damned good football team in their own right. I can't wait to see what happens.
I'l 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.