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Arkansas Football: Ten Things I Loved In The 2010’s

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 28 Southwest Classic - Texas A&M v Arkansas Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

To state that the past decade for Razorback Football has its share of ups and downs would be a major understatement. Starting off with their first BCS bowl game appearance in the Sugar Bowl in 2010 and another major bowl win in the Cotton Bowl after the 2011 season Razorback fans thought it was only going to get get better. Heck, the Hogs were even considered National Championship contenders before the bike was parked in the ditch. Those were the best of times but not everything was terrible this decade... Arkansas just did not win like it did in the early part of the decade.

10. The Last SEC Win

I know many Razorback fans will agree with me when I say that our team’s last conference win feels like a decade ago. This win will be one that fans should cherish and re-watch since it was an unbelievable come from behind victory. Many times in the Bret Bielema era, Arkansas would start fast out the gate but fade late. Often they would lose double digit leads, give up game winning drives and lose some games they should have won. On this day it was the exact opposite with the Hogs facing a 31-7 hole late in the first half Arkansas scored two touchdowns in the final 2:44 to trim the lead to 10.

The Razorback defense bent at some points but never broke. They gave up six points in the final 35 minutes of the game. Ultimately, the Razorback defense cut the lead to two with 6:01 remaining with a defensive scoop and score by Kevin Richardson II when the Hogs looked to be on the ropes and drop their first game to Ole Miss since 2013.

The “Iceman” Connor Limpert completed the comeback when he stroked not one, not two but three field goals in a row after the Rebels attempted to ice the Arkansas kicker with :04 seconds remaining. No one knew at that would be the last conference victory for the Razorback football team. With 19 losses in a row their time will come soon right?

9. Arkansas Takes Florida To The Woodshed

The Razorbacks were returning home after being spanked, thumped and kicked to the ground after a 56-3 loss the previous week versus Auburn. Florida came to town ranked 11th in the country and Arkansas was looking to get back to their winning ways. Arkansas donned their anthracite uniforms with sick some sick anthracite helmets and a chrome hog to top it off. My memory sometimes fails me but this is the only time Arkansas has worn their alternate jersey and won an SEC game. This is also the last time the Razorbacks played in a SEC on CBS game.

Immediately, Arkansas started the party off with a pick six from Santos Ramirez and the route was in progress. This game is mostly remembered for “The Hit” to start the third quarter when Duwop Mitchell laid the wood on Florida kickoff returner Chris Thompson. Razorback Stadium went nuts and for the time being it looked like Bielema Ball was back on track. Rawleigh WIlliams ran wild on the Gator defense finishing the day with 146 yards and two touchdowns. The second touchdown was a 41 yard scamper to the endzone with 5:40 left to put the Hogs up 31-10.

8. Joe Adams’ Punt Returns

Whether it was his “Houdini” return against Tennessee, the 93 yarder versus Ole Miss or his final one against Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl, Adams returns were always entertaining, timely and momentum swinging. The best part of the Bobby Petrino era there was never a facet of his program that was not special during his time at Arkansas. His special teams run by John L. Smith definitely lived up to their name with a pair of great returners that included Dennis Johnson, too.

7. Jake “Head Hunter” Bequette

Bequette was one of the sack artists on the Razorback defensive line during the Petrino years. He nearly decapitated SEC quarterbacks Connor Shaw and Aaron Murray with vicious hits at crucial times in those two ball games. During his career, Bequette was recognized on the All-SEC Freshman team, second team All-SEC in 2010 and was named to the first team All-SEC as a senior in 2011. Bequette recorded 140 tackles in his career and finished with 23.5 sacks. In his final game, he was named Defensive MVP of the 2012 Cotton Bowl and finished the game with five tackles and three sacks.

6. The Hiring of Bret Bielema

I included this one on the list because of my genuine thought that Bielema continue Arkansas’ run as a SEC front runner with his arrival in Fayetteville. Obviously, my first thought was of his smashmouth style of football he ran at Wisconsin was very reminiscent of the days of Darren McFadden, Felix Jones, Madre Hill and Cedric Cobbs. Arkansas stumbled a bit early on in his tenure with evaporated second half leads and last second losses would become a theme (Rutgers, Mississippi State and LSU).

Bielema continued to ensure fans that better times were coming and the mellow press conference following the LSU loss was one of those “we’re close” moments. Into 2014 the smashmouth iso offense looked to be on schedule as the Arkansas had the the national runner up Auburn on the ropes at halftime tied at 21. Close loss after close loss continued to pile on but fans, media and people outside of Arkansas could see the Razorbacks were moving closer to that elusive first conference victory. At that point I believed Bielema would be the guy to bring Arkansas back to glory. However, he was never able to turn the corner unfortunately.

5. The $25,000 Win

This was the victory Razorback Nation was waiting for. 17 straight losses in the SEC was wearing on a tired fanbase but the wait was finally over. Arkansas seemed poised to move to the next tier in the Western Division.

It was the perfect night for a victory in Razorback Stadium as it was 17 degrees at kickoff with 17 losses in a row and the Bengal Tigers were ranked 17th in the country. Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams scored a pair of touchdowns and the defense pitched their first shutout of a conference opponent in eight seasons. With seconds left, the Razorback sideline rushed to the LSU sideline to take “The Boot” back. The fans rushed the field and things seemed to be swell in Razorback Nation.

4. Rohan Gaines Pick Six

One of my personal favorites since this was the first defensive touchdown I was able to see in all my years of going to Razorback games. I remember the interception return like it was yesterday and it has a funny story to go along with it. As I was coming back to my seat from the corndog stand behind section 128 (now S137) Bo Wallace was bringing his Rebel offense back on the field. The Rebels ran the same exact play from the first half that also resulted in an interception in the endzone for senior defensive back Tevin Mitchel. Gaines was sitting back waiting for the ball to be thrown. I took the first bite of my corndog as the play developed, you could tell it was the same one that had been called in the same situation before but this time Gaines was able to pick the pass off as I spit my corndog out in excitement as he began his trek to the endzone.

As Gaines attempted the return he needed a convoy led by Bijhon Jackson and the rest of the Razorback defense to pour salt in the wound of Ole Miss’ hopes of a New Years Six Bowl.

3. What in the Sam Irwin-Hill?

Arkansas and Texas A&M were in a primetime fight in Arlington at AT&T Stadium for the 2014 Southwest Classic. The game was tied and Arkansas was ready to punt it away to the Aggies with 1:15 left in the half.

Fake punts are likely one of the hardest trick plays in the book to convert but this one ended perfectly and allowed Arkansas to go up 21-14 with hopes for their first SEC victory under Bielema. Irwin-Hill found a wide open lane to the left side of the line and with a shield of blockers downfield he was able to get the first down and more!

2. The Henry Heave

The most unreal quarterback performance in Razorback history came from Brandon Allen against the Rebels in 2015. Arkansas needed him all night as he threw for 442 yards, a school record seven touchdown passes, no interceptions and a game winning two point conversion.

None of that would have happened if it was not for the crazy play that happened on 4th and 25. With the game which seemed impossible to win, Hunter Henry caught a Brandon Allen pass well short of the first down. As Henry was nailed by a Rebel defender the Ole Miss crowd went into a jubilant celebration without knowing what would happen next.

Off a lateral from Henry, Dan Skipper struck the ball to the ground giving running back Alex Collins the opportunity to get the first down and give Arkansas an opportunity to win the ball game. Two plays later, Allen would find Drew Morgan in the endzone to pull within one point. Instead of going for the tie and fight in the second overtime, offensive coordinator Dan Enos called for a short Allen pass from the three but was brought down and sacked but the Ole Miss defender was called for a face mask penalty on Allen and the Hogs were given another life. Enos calls a quarterback draw to the right side of the line in somewhat of an option and Allen navigated himself over the goaline for the win and Arkansas would pull off the improbable victory against the Rebels.

1. Cobi Hamilton Shocks LSU Before Halftime

I will just leave the highlight here: