Every college football season has a few moments that can define or destroy a year. Very rarely has the Arkansas program faced a schedule that even the most sternly pessimistic fan would look at and say there is absolutely no way to get to the seven win mark. In 2014 the Razorbacks reached that mark, surpassing expectations and in the process boosting expectations for 2015.
There have been three times in the last decade the Razorbacks have reached that 10-win pinnacle. What did those teams from 2006, 2010 and 2011 overcome to reach that milestone?
Mid to late season statement beatdown of a non conference opponent. (Or when Tennessee reached Rocky Bottom)
Bret Bielema, in contrast to his predecessor at Arkansas, likes to make a statement and solidify his philosophy of physically dominating another team in these blowout games. Racking up 72, 52 or whatever, the outcome is he will not take his foot off the pedal. Petrino did not show much mercy either but he was more apt to pull his starters early and work on developing some backups. In order to get to that 10 win mark, a game like this is critical to develop that mentality that is needed later in the season.
2006: Easy win over La Monroe 44-10
2010: Nov. 13 win over UTEP 58-21 before going to Starkville.
2011: Late season win 49-7 over a struggling Tenn team.
Close win against a less talented SEC opponent on the road in the much hated 11:30 am tv slot.
The players have just as much trouble getting excited about one of those games as the fans do. Playing in one of these tough games where it is a battle into the second half is not always a bad thing.
2006 @ Vanderbilt misses a field goal at the end that would have won the game. Arkansas wins 21-19
2010 Arkansas 38-24 over Ole Miss (A bit of an outlier. Arkansas was up big most of the game. The Rebels made a comeback after rain delays but the Hogs held on for a comfortable win.)
2011 @ Vanderbilt missed a field goal (yes, again) that would have tied the game at the end. They led for most of the game but Arkansas won 31-28).
Come-from-behind win with a momentum-changing play.
A team that proves they can come from several touchdowns behind to win has a sense of calm that other players and teams do not possess when faced with adversity. Whether it's a big defensive stop of a late drive to score this kind of game builds chemistry and the idea that no matter what this team can still rally to win.
2006 Arkansas trailed Alabama 10-9 with 5 minutes left in the 3rd quarter until Randy Kelly 39 yard TD recovery.
2010- At Miss State down 21-17 with 6:38 to play and Ryan Mallett hit Jarius Wright for an 89 yard touchdown. Then in OT Mallett hits Knile Davis and the Arkansas defense makes a stop to win.
2011 Down 35-20 to Texas A&M midway into the 3rd Q Tyler Wilson leads a comeback hitting 7 straight completions and eventually putting the hogs up 42-38 with less than 2 minutes left in the game.
Win over a top 25 ranked SEC opponent.
2006- On the road at #2 Auburn, win 27-10. defined the season
2010 On the road at #18 S. Carolina 41-20
2011 At DWRRS win 38-14 over #15 Auburn.
How can Arkansas follow this path in the upcoming season?
Solid win over top 25 ranked SEC Opponent: Texas A&M Sept 26th or Alabama Oct 10th.
Close win versus less talented SEC opponent: at Tennessee Oct 3rd
Mid to late season statement beat down of a non conference opponent: Oct. 31st. Sorry UT Martin this has your name all over it.
Come from behind win with a momentum changing play: Oct 24 DWRRS vs Auburn. Brandon Allen heroics leading to a come from behind win?
It is the "talkin" season after all, so that is all we can do at this point. What pieces of a season do you see this team putting together to reach the 10 win mark?