2011 was a pretty fun year to be a Hog fan, but the Hogs dropped 4 spots in the polls due to a week 4 whipping by Alabama in Tuscaloosa. They entered the last non-conference game (for the foreseeable future) against Texas A&M as the #18 team in the country.
It was Bobby Petrino's last year in Fayetteville and Mike Sherman's last year in College Station, though neither knew it at the time. Petrino held a 3-0 record in the Southwest Classic, though when the 2011 game got started, it looked like Alabama was going to beat Arkansas for a 2nd straight week.
Texas A&M jumped to a 14-0 lead in the 1st quarter. Tyler Wilson and the running game led by Ronnie Wingo Jr. weren't getting it done. Meanwhile, future NFL players Christine Michael and Ryan Tannehill were having a field day on the ground for A&M breaking off big runs including a 48 yard touchdown for Michael.
Arkansas ended the quarter only down 7 after a 68 yard touchdown pass to Jarius Wright. If you haven't remembered yet, this was the game where Jarius Wright and Tyler Wilson would set some pretty impressive passing records. Texas A&M would score a 3rd rushing touchdown in the 2nd, but Jarius Wright and Tyler Wilson continued to burn up the Aggie secondary setting up a 1 yard rushing touchdown for 2nd year USC transfer Broderick Green.
A&M would score two more rushing touchdowns to end the half, while the vaunted Razorback offense under 1st year starter Tyler Wilson generated a 26 yard field goal by Zach Hocker. The halftime score was Texas A&M 35 - 17 over Arkansas.
Though the Hogs were down by 18, you had to sense something was happening here. Wright broke the previous receiving record of 204 yards (set in 1971 by Mike Reppond) in the 1st half. He would own set a new record at a total of 281 yards. You can see all of his catches in this video.
We may never throwback to the 2012 Rutgers game, but Cobi Hamilton set the mark at 303 yards in that game and broke Wright's record.
The second half was all Razorbacks. Hocker corked a 32 yarder early in the 3rd quarter to put Arkansas within 2 scores. After forcing Texas A&M into a 3 and out (their 2nd in a row), Wilson would complete 7 of 9 passes including 6 straight to reduce the lead to 8 points. All 9 plays of that drive were passes. Arkansas didn't run the ball once. The drive went 75 yards on 9 plays, but only took 2 minutes and 21 seconds off the clock.
As the 3rd quarter moved on to the 4th, Texas A&M would punt twice and fumble once, Arkansas would punt twice and fumble once, but the fumble didn't end the drive. Arkansas would started the drive on it's own 14 (then own 9 after a false start). Wilson proceeded to pass and hand the ball off to Dennis Johnson for 66 yards on 4 touches to setup a Cobi Hamilton Catch and run. Hamilton's (have you listened to the Musical yet?) catch near the A&M 20 and would be poked loose at the ten yard line. In a heads up play, Jarius Wright beat the A&M defenders and fell on the ball in the endzone for a touchdown. A 2-point conversion run by Wilson after all the replays and reviews would tie the game at 35.
With 11:00 left there was still plenty of football to play, and Texas A&M took the lead 38 - 35 using 16 plays to burn the clock down to 4:22 before kicking the go ahead field goal.
Arkansas would charge down the field using Wright, Hamilton, and Johnson to setup a short yardage touchdown by Broderick Green.
The Arkansas defense would hold up again forcing a turnover on downs on the next drive to give Arkansas the 42-38 win. While the defense gave up 628 total yards of offense, they were able to really contain the A&M offense in the 2nd half allowing just over 200 yards of offense and only three points. In addition to Wright's 281 receiving yards, Wilson recorded 510 passing yards surpassing Mallet's 409 from 2010 against Vanderbilt.
The 2011 Arkansas Texas A&M game was really an exemplary example of the Bobby Petrino brand of football at Arkansas. The Hogs 1st half defense was weaker than a wet paper towel, but the Hogs still came through with the win. Despite long 2nd and 3rd yardage situations Arkansas still was able to move the ball and scored. The rushing game yielded only 71 yards, but the running game wasn't needed to put up big numbers to win the game.
Despite the difference in offensive philosophies, I can really see a similarity between these two teams. Both teams seemed to be building off of the success of the previous season despite replacing a record setting Quarterback from the season before. Both coaches were/are in their 4th year, and both teams had Kody Walker at running back. Obviously, we're all hoping April 1 rolls around with no news next year, but there are some interesting similarities.
This game was the last time the Hogs and the Aggies played while both were ranked in the top 25. The 2011 A&M game wasn't a statement game, because Arkansas had played in the Sugar Bowl the year before, but the 2016 game has all the makings of a statement game for both teams and coaches.
The 2011 Hog fans welcomed their former conference foe to being a future conference foe with a welcome to the SEC sign in the 4th quarter after the go ahead touchdown. Since that time, A&M has gotten the better of the Hogs 4 times.
Maybe the 2016 game will be the Hogs finally welcoming the Aggies to SeptemBret.