Hey. You guys remember 2010? What a time! I’m pretty sure that was thirty years ago, but my editor tells me it was actually just the start of the previous decade. As such, that year is eligible for this, The Definitive 10 Greatest Razorback Football Plays of the 2010s.
I can’t imagine a data set of ten seasons where the highs were as high as the lows were low. But the highs are what sustain us, as fans. The individual moments that send your stomach up your throat and your heart somewhere above your head. Moments that last about ten seconds on the field, but a lifetime in our collective conscious. Here’s ten of those.
10. Jerico Nelson gets a helmet on the ball, Mississippi State 2010
In front of an emotional sell-out crowd in Starkville, the 13th-ranked Hogs needed some astoundingly good luck to keep the season rolling and the Sugar Bowl in sight. Mississippi State’s ten-point comeback in the fourth quarter appeared to give them all kinds of momentum, as their offense clicked in the first overtime. State’s running back Vick Ballard took the ball, kept his feet after getting tripped, and extended his arm out at the two yard line, hoping to find a touchdown. Jerico Nelson was the last chance for the Hogs, as he dove from the endzone to get the tackle. Nelson’s head collided with the ball, which went into the endzone, giving Arkansas possession and a new lease on life. If the ball had just gone sideways or backward, the Bulldogs were likely going to score.
9. Sebastian Tretola’s Heisman moment, UAB 2014
A willing Homecoming victim was just what Arkansas needed after losing three straight excruuuuuciating SEC games. UAB delivered. Already up 21-0 early in the second quarter, Jim Chaney, of all people, decided to get weird. On fourth-and-goal, the Hogs lined up in a variation of a special teams Swinging Gate formation. Initially lined up in the guard position (but slightly behind the line of scrimmage), 6’5 350lb Sebastian Tretola moved backward to take the snap. Deep snapper Alan D’Appollonio sent the ball back and snuck his way to the left and into the endzone for a wide-open catch. Tretola’s pass, off his back foot, got there in plenty of time, and the Heisman campaign roared on.
8. Cheyenne O’Grady hurts a lot of people, Colorado State 2019
Here is the one good thing that happened during the last two seasons. Savor it. With the Hogs leading Colorado State by a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, newly established QB Nick Starkel seemed to show us the future with a great pass with pressure breathing down his neck. TE Cheyenne O’Grady, working off a linebacker, ran the wheel to perfection. O’Grady got about twenty yards before it looked like he would be gang tackled. Then he turned the bulldozer on, pounded his way through five tacklers, and made it the rest of the way for a 62-yard touchdown.
7. Greg Childs is loose, Georgia 2010
Arkansas had a lot to prove early in the 2010 season. Sure, there was a lot of hype and a load of talent, but could they make a leap? The Georgia Bulldogs would make a great test, as the Hogs had yet to beat the Dawgs since joining the SEC. With the game tied at 24 and less than a minute to go, the drive to greatness was on. The clock was ticking down when Ryan Mallett found Greg Childs wide open, between two defenders who couldn’t figure out that the big, fast guy was a target. Childs made one move to dodge a Bulldog, and then it was a race. “Childs please,” indeed.
6. Rohan Gaines’s 100-yard dash, Ole Miss 2014
November 2014 felt like a turning of the corner. A week after shutting out LSU for the Hogs’ first SEC win in two years, Arkansas built on that performance with a second straight shutout, this time against the absurdly overranked #8 Ole Miss Rebels. The much-missed Bo Wallace gave up his fourth turnover while the Rebels were inside the red zone. Rohan Gaines grabbed the interception at the goal line and sprinted. Seemingly the entirety of the rest of the defense lined up a convoy for him, and he didn’t stop until the hit the opposite goal line, one hundred yards later. Late 2014 was the most fun I’ve ever had watching an Arkansas defense. They were mean as hell.
5. Connor Limpert stays cool after getting iced, Ole Miss 2017
Arkansas took its time getting into the game. The Hogs spotted the Rebels a 31-7 lead in the second quarter before they decided to make a move. There was just enough time left in the game to narrow the score to 37-35 and give a chance to the unheralded sophomore walk-on kicker, Connor Limpert. Right before the snap, Ole Miss called their first timeout. Limpert was already kicking before he heard the whistle, and he nailed it. Fine. He’ll just do it again. Limpert was ready to kick annnnnd here comes another timeout, followed by another ball splitting the uprights. Now, it’s just practice. Ole Miss calls its final timeout, and Limpert nails another practice shot. So this next time, the kick is for all the marbles. Connor Limpert doesn’t sweat. 38-37.
4. Brandon Allen is fearless, Ole Miss 2015
This is one of the greatest football games you’ll ever see. Every quarter ended with the Razorbacks and Rebels tied. Two incredible quarterback performances from Brandon Allen and Ole Miss’s Chad Kelly. One miraculous play further down this list (is it spoiling anything to say that here?). By the time Allen made his dive into the endzone to grab a game-winning two-point conversion, this game was already a classic. But it wouldn’t be as fun if it had ended any other way. Bret Bielema’s decision to go for two and the win looked disastrous when Allen dropped back to pass and, finding no one, got dropped by DE Marquis Haynes. Haynes’s face mask penalty gave Allen one more shot. This time, he used his legs instead of his arm, running behind two pulling linemen, and juuuuuust crossing the goal line. The perfect finish.
3. Cobi Hamilton can taste Sugar, LSU 2010
he Sugar Bowl was on the line for the winner of the Golden Boot. When the Razorbacks got the ball at their own twenty yard line with six seconds left in the first half, it seemed reasonable that Ryan Mallett would just kneel the ball, content with a tied ball game. However, every single second of this game was too precious to waste, and the Hogs couldn’t let that time go for nothing. Mallett dropped back and lasered a shot to Cobi Hamilton running up the middle. Hamilton allowed two LSU defenders to knock into each other and out of the play, and he sped away. With Jarius Wright blocking downfield, Cobi found pay dirt and the Hogs had a lead that would survive another half. The fans at War Memorial were deafening after that.
2. 4th and 25, Ole Miss 2015
The greatest game the Razorbacks played of the decade needed one last magic touch to garner that distinction. A miracle does just the thing. Hunter Henry was still ten yards away from a first down when he caught the ball and immediately got wrapped up by an Ole Miss defender. Henry was just strong enough to stay on feet, spin around, and heave a lateral backwards into...whatever might be back there. The closest players to the ball were two Rebels and two offensive linemen. Instead of grabbing for the ball, as one naturally does, tackle Dan Skipper had some kind of superhuman wherewithal to bat it away toward someone who could better make a play. Alex Collins could make a play and did, dashing toward the opposite sideline from where Henry seemed to go down. Once past the first-down marker, Collins lost the ball and Dominique Reed jumped on it to complete an unbelievable and unforgettable sequence.
1. Joe Adams can’t be touched, Tennessee 2011
You may say to yourself that “4th and 25” is the end-all, be-all of Razorback moments, and I will listen patiently and appreciatively. But then I’ll say that that play had dumb luck riding shotgun. The greatest play of the decade was nothing but skill. It made me believe in magic. Late in the first quarter, Tennessee would punt the football (like dummies) to Joe Adams, punt return savant. Catching the ball at the Razorback 40-yard line, Adams saw no daylight and went closer to the sideline. Still no break in the defenders. So he went backward. Eleven yards backward. If it were anyone else, it would be egregiously prideful and bad. Joe Adams found a sliver, then he got slick. He slipped through tackles, he sidestepped a few, and then he sprinted. All the way home.
That’s the Definitive, Unchanging, Unerring List. What do you see differently? Should we have added “Kneeling Down at the Goal Line against Texas” somewhere? What about all those moments in the comeback against A&M 2011? The comments are open!