We're basically sticking to just football, basketball and baseball here, as those are the three sports we devote almost all of our attention to. Since I don't think there is any question what number one is this year, we'll start from the top and go down.
This was the type of instant classic in which the biggest question after the game was when was the last time the Hogs played in a game that compares to it. On that day in Oxford, the two teams combined for over 100 points and neither team ever had more than a single-possession lead. It went back and forth the entire time and only ended when Bret Bielema elected to go for an unnecessary two-point conversion in overtime when an extra point would have just extended the game.
Oh, and Brandon Allen beat out Chad Kelly in an all-time quarterback duel, setting Arkansas' single-game record for touchdown passes in a game - a record that only stood for two weeks before Allen topped it again - and that 4th-and-25 thing happened. It's one of the small handful of games Hog fans will talk about for years to come when the subject of favorite games is brought up.
Arkansas lucked into hosting the super regional when Missouri State was unable to do so, and the Hogs made it count. The entire 3-day weekend at Baum Stadium was electric. Arkansas opened the series with a blowout victory - one of the most fun games I've ever attended in any sport - but the Bears completely shut down the Razorbacks in Game 2, setting up the winner-take-all Game 3.
The Razorbacks scored three runs in the 1st inning then spent the next couple of hours just trying to hold on. The Hogs didn't score again. Missouri State scored once, then a few innings later they scored a second run to cut the lead to 3-2. Arkansas had to bring in super sophomore Zach Jackson in the 6th inning to save the game, and he did. Jackson got Arkansas out of the sixth, when Missouri State scored their last run, then struck out five of the last nine batters in the last three frames without allowing a runner, and Arkansas was off to Omaha.
This was a game Bret Bielema had to have. After starting the season 2-4 in what was supposed to be a breakthrough season, Bielema simply couldn't allow his nemesis Gus Malzahn to come into Fayetteville as an underdog and win.
Early on, it didn't look like it would be a particularly memorable game, as Arkansas took an early 14-0 lead and Auburn had difficulty completing the most routine of passes. But Arkansas gave up long touchdown drives on both sides of halftime and allowed the Tigers to move down the field in the closing seconds to set up a game-tying field goal, and we headed to overtime.
This is when the fireworks started. Bret Bielema had led Arkansas into three overtime games previously in his tenure and the Hogs failed to reach a single first down in any of them. This time, Arkansas faced three convert-or-lose plays, and landed each one. Arkansas finally earned the win with a stop in the fourth overtime, completing the most memorable game in Razorback Stadium in several years.
Arkansas' long-awaited return to the NCAA Tournament resulted in a 5-seed, and the Hogs drew Wofford in the opening round. The Hogs picked a terrible time to play arguably their worst game of the year (the game did tie for Arkansas' lowest single game point total of the year). Michael Qualls scored 20 points. Bobby Portis scored 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. The game was close throughout, and Wofford even led for good bits of it, but Alandise Harris hit a big three-point play at the end to preserve Arkansas' victory...and move them into the next round against North Carolina :( but most importantly, Mike Anderson avoided his Bucknell moment.
Oh, and you can never forget, Jacorey threw a shoe onto the court.
Here's a link to the highlights. Can't embed because the NCAA suuuuuucks.
This game wasn't close like the others on the list, even though it wasn't finally decided until deep into the 4th quarter. But it was arguably the most fun game here. Arkansas was an underdog going into Death Valley against an LSU team that had only lost once and had the Heisman favorite at the time.
But Arkansas dominated them. The football team didn't feature a ton of "big" plays in 2015, but they had plenty that night in Baton Rouge. Dominique Reed, Alex Collins, and Jared Cornelius all had 50+yard touchdown plays, and for one of the very rare times this year, the defense actually came up with a turnover deep in enemy territory to set up an easy score. LSU threatened a comeback in the middle of the game, but Arkansas successfully drove down the field in the third quarter to kick a field goal and quell the momentum. The win secured bowl eligibility for the Hogs with two games remaining and kept The Boot in Fayetteville for a second straight year.
If this was football it would probably be number one. It's not often you go to #1's house and pull off the upset, but that's what the Razorbacks did in April and it really kickstarted their red-hot run in the second half of the season that led them to Omaha.
The Aggies ran away with Game 1, and were on their way to running awya with Game 2, building an 8-3 lead late in the game before rain forced a game delay until Sunday morning. When play resumed, Arkansas scored one run in the seventh and then scored five runs with two outs in the 8th inning to take the lead and ultimately claim the victory. A few hours later, Arkansas' kept up the momentum by jumping to a big lead on the Aggies early and easily winning the game and the series on the road over the nation's top ranked team.
I couldn't find video of this one, sadly.
The Razorbacks were coming off two disappointing losses, so their hopes of a big season were on the ropes when Alabama came into Bud Walton Arena. Arkansas led through most of the game but gave away a five-point lead in the last minute of regulation, but pulled through in overtime. Last year, it was Michael Qualls cleaning up a miss by Ky Madden, and this year it was Bobby Portis. The game also featured three different plays that all ended up on the SportsCenter Top Ten that day. Qualls went for 30 points and 8 rebounds.
At this point in the season, Arkansas was still narrowly winning most of their SEC games and wins on the road, especially against one of the league's better teams in Ole Miss, were never guaranteed. Arkansas also needed a quality road win to solidify their NCAA Tournament resume.
The game was close throughout, and the Razorbacks had a chance to win at the end. Ky Madden drove to the basket, but for once in these late game situations, he passed instead of taking a bad shot himself. He found Manuale Watkins open under the basket for an easy layup with seconds remaining, giving the Hogs the 71-70 victory.
9. Florida - SEC Baseball Tournament
Arkansas had clinched an NCAA berth well before entering the SEC Tournament, but they were playing for seeding and an outside shot at host a regional. The Hogs beat Tennessee in their first game on a walk-off double, and that gave them a shot against the Gators, who were projected to be a national seed in the tournament.
The game went on until after midnight. Arkansas took the lead early, gave it up, but then in the ninth inning, Andrew Benintendi hit a monster home run off the Hoover scoreboard, and Bobby Wernes hit a two-run homer shortly after to give Arkansas a 7-6 lead, and Jackson shut the Gators down in the bottom of the ninth to clinch a major resume win for the Hogs in the SEC Tournament.
For some reason, the SEC is determined to have Arkansas beginning SEC basketball on the road. This is like the fourth straight year it's happened. In January, Arkansas traveled to Athens to take on the Bulldogs, considered one of the other contenders for the top few spots in the SEC.
Georgia led for most of the game, but Arkansas was able to pull off a big comeback at the end to secure a major victory for their NCAA resume and to help kill the notion the team couldn't win away from Bud Walton Arena. Alandise Harris played one of the best games of his career, scoring 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting and led the way. Portis had 21 points and Qualls had 17, including a breakaway dunk toward the end that helped seal the deal.
Honorable mentions: South Carolina basketball, Game 1 of the Super Regional vs Missouri State, the entire Stillwater regional in baseball, and we also want to give a shoutout to the gymnastics team's upset of Alabama at Barnhill.
What were your favorite moments of the year?