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Throwback Thursday: Arkansas vs South Carolina 2011

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Let's remember the last time two ranked teams squared off in Fayetteville.

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
Ranked Alabama vs. Ranked Arkansas at home.  Last time that happened? 2010. That was a legendary infamous game.  It was my first game back after graduating, and the first (and last) game my wife and I attended together.

But the last time ranked Arkansas faced a ranked opponent in Fayetteville was actually 2011 South Carolina.  The Number 8 Hogs were 7-1 with a win over Houston Nutt's 4th year Rebels and a revenge win over Gene Chizik's Camless Auburn Tigers.  The Gamecocks were coming off their first appearance in an SEC Championship Game and were about to complete the first of three consecutive 11 win seasons (11 wins and the Hogs win .... because Throwback Thursday is never a loss ... OHHH SEC EAST)

"Arkansas still knows how to finish in the second half." Those are the first words from a recap of the game.  maybe they'll be true on the Hill again, soon.

2010 was the best season the Hogs have had in the modern era since they played in a BCS bowl, but the 2011 Hogs only lost to teams that played in the National Championship game.

The week before the Hogs played South Carolina, they had been on the road and won a close game against Vanderbilt. Before you sneeze, the Commodores lost one-score games to Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee in 2011. Arkansas had to rally from 14 points down and Jerry Franklin took a goal line fumble 94 yards for a score that would setup the game-tying 2 point conversion.

If you think it was all confidence on the Hill coming into this South Carolina Game, you would be wrong.

2011 Arkansas had been a 2nd-half team up until the South Carolina game.  They actually had been outscored 87-59 in the first half of their previous four games, including being down 21-14 in the Vandy game the week before.

1st Quarter
Arkansas finished the 1st quarter with a 10-7 lead.  Hocker kicked a 44 yarder and missed a 45 yarder.  South Carolina then took a long drive down the field to take a 1st quarter lead.  It took Dennis Johnson less than 15 seconds to return the next kickoff to give the Hogs the lead (Was it just Joe Adams and Dennis Johnson, or was John L. Smith a good special teams coach?). Arkansas would close out the quarter with the offense on the field after the Razorback defense forced a 3 and out.

2nd Quarter
Tyler Wilson will be remembered for always finding ways to get the ball out from strange angles.  It was often said his Baseball playing days really crept into his quarterbacking.  On a 3rd and 2 near mid-field, Arkansas would run a play action bootleg that Wilson tried to do too much with.  With a South Carolina defender pulling him to the ground, Tyler tried to toss the ball to Broderick Green, but it was grabbed by Devin Taylor of South Carolina to give the Gamecocks another lead.  
Now, here's where Bobby Petrino turned the difficulty from All-American to Varsity. A pooch kick away from Dennis Johnson is downed at the 38. Tyler Wilson uses the short field to find Jarius Wright for a 68 yard Touchdown on the first play from scrimmage after the interception.

3rd Quarter
South Carolina got within striking distance of the Hogs several times in the 2nd half.  The 3rd Quarter the Gamecocks outscored the Hogs 7-6 holding the Hogs to two field goals.

4th Quarter
Early in the 4th Quarter, South Carolina scored another rushing touchdown (All three offensive Touchdowns were on the ground for the Gamecocks) to make the score 30-28.  Arkansas would prove it's 2nd half mettle again forcing two South Carolina turnovers while scoring two more touchdowns to win the game 44-28.  The Ronnie Wingo Jr. Touchdown was between the tackles which is pretty notable, one of the Gamecock turnovers was an interception by Alonzo Highsmith,

Note: if this game seems familiar to you, while watching the Highlights, they accidentally called Dennis Johnson "Dennis Green"... that stuck out in my head for some reason.

The nail in the coffin would come with about 5 minutes left in the game.  While the South Carolina defense came up huge stuffing Broderick Green on 4th down at their own goal line, the Arkansas defense answered when Jake Bequette forced a sack fumble on Connor Shaw recovered by the Hogs at the South Carolina 1.  Broderick Green got the ball in the endzone 2 plays later an the 44-28 score would stand.

Some people are saying this game this Saturday is the biggest game in Fayetteville since Arkansas played Alabama in 2010, but it's not always about Bama.  There hasn't been a lot to celebrate in recent years in games against Alabama, and while I could've thrown back to the 2006 Leigh Tiffin game, it feels more satisfying to remember the last time a ranked team came in to Fayetteville and played a ranked Hogs team.  And we beat them in all three phases of the game.  Will there be a day when we do that to Alabama?  Is that day Saturday?  I don't know, but even if Bama ekes out another squeaker like in 2014, we've still got plenty to be excited about in Fayetteville this season.