This matchup is one of the more storied in Arkansas’ history dating all the way back to 1908. It’s not the Egg Bowl. It’s certainly bigger than Ole Miss and Memphis. In baseball the two teams and fan bases always “get-up” for a series between each other. It certainly deserves the big game treatment since the majority of games seem to always go to the wire.
Looking back through the years it tells us their is genuine hate between the two schools. Whether it was shocking losses, officiate mishaps or classic games this rivalry is historic and deserves to be treated like one. It’s certainly better than the SEC fabricated Battle Line Rivalry between Arkansas and Missouri.
Let’s open the book of southern football history and revisit some matchups of years gone by.
An ineligible player was used by Ole Miss, per Arkansas, during the 1914 game. The Hogs say the Rebels forfeited but Ole Miss denies it to this day. They continue to count the win in the series.
How about the memorable ““Powder River Pass Play” from 1954? Fifth ranked Ole Miss had one of the more explosive passing offenses in the country as they traveled to War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. With 3:50 to go, former Razorback coaching great Bowden Wyatt called a long 66 yard pass play not seen in many games that season. Preston Carpenter caught the pass from Buddy Bob Benson for a touchdown to help Arkansas to 6-0 victory.
Fights happened in the 1960 matchup between the teams and fans. A botched call on a missed field goal that was called good by officials caused Ole Miss to steal a win in Little Rock. Yeah, things were so heated that the schools mutually agreed to pause the very heated rivalry.
How can anyone forget the 7-OT thriller in Oxford? The quarterback duel between Matt Jones and Eli Manning was excellent! Jones had a coming out party and displayed his skills for years to come. Arkansas had so much heart as they found a way to win in overtime as they usually did under Houston Nutt.
Recent history suggests this storied rivalry continues to become more heated in football. Look no further than when Arkansas and Houston Nutt decided to mutually part ways in 2007. Hours later, Nutt would be hired at Ole Miss as their next head coach after the Rebel’s fired Ed Orgeron after he went 10-25 overall in four seasons.
The Rebels would then win the next two contests before losing the final two under Nutt, when he was fired after the 2011 season. The first matchup between Arkansas and Ole Miss was on October 25, 2008 when the Rebels winning 23-21. The 2009 game saw Ole Miss dominate both sides of the football winning 30-17 in Oxford. After that loss the Razorbacks would go 5-1 down the stretch and win the Liberty Bowl in Memphis against East Carolina.
Arkansas would experience heart break in Little Rock during the 2012 season when they lost to Ole Miss 30-27. Bryson Rose kicked the game winning field goal as time expired to avoid overtime.
After the Rebels won two straight in the series, the upstart Razorbacks dominated defensively with a 30-0 victory at home. That game included a 100-yard pick six by Rohan Gaines to put the game away.
In 2015, Arkansas traveled to Oxford for a late season matchup. A Rebels win would give them their first appearance in the SEC Championship Game. However, the pigskin gods had different plans as a play that only could happen in a backyard football game took place.
Forget the botched call by the CBS announcer. Here is the call from Play by Play guy, Chuck Barrett of Razorback Sports Network:
Another incredible matchup in the series took place the very next year in Fayetteville. It was another back and forth affair with the Hogs down 30-27 in the fourth quarter. Jared Cornelius took a sweep handoff from Austin Allen and score a touchdown to ultimately put the Razorbacks up 34-30 with 2:30 left in the game.
There was one last chance for Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly to lead his team to a win. It was fourth down and long with Razorback Stadium shaking underneath Joe Tessitore and Greg McElroy. Kelly rolled left, running for his life to reach the first down marker. Before he could cross it, Razorback safety Santos Ramirez made the play of his career laying a helmet into Kelly forcing a fumble out of bounds and a turnover on downs. What a game!
Revisit it here:
2017 featured another thrilling game but this time it looked like Ole Miss was smooth sailing with Jordan Ta’amu at quarterback. Ole Miss was on their way to a 38-7 lead before a forced fumble by Ramirez and a Razorback recovery on the sideline breathed life into the Hogs.
A couple of plays later Cole Kelley trucked a defender at the goal line for a touchdown from 17 yards. On the very next Rebel drive, Ta’amu threw a kick to DeAndre Coley that was returned to the Rebels 22-yard line. Three plays later Kelley found Deon Stewart for a touchdown to find themselves behind 31-21 with less than 20 seconds in the half.
A field goal in the fourth quarter by Ole Miss made the game ball but out of reach. The Hogs put together an incredible ending to steal victory from the jaws of defeat, again.
Ole Miss found ways to win in 2018 and 2019. However, Heisman hopeful Matt Corral found himself on the wrong side of a six interception game. With three of those picks thrown to former walk-on Hudson Clark. Arkansas won 33-21 for their first SEC victory at home since 2016.
How will this years game go? We know it has to be another thriller! History has proven that. Will it continue to heat up this rivalry? Is Ole Miss the best rivalry in the SEC for Arkansas? Do the Rebels feel the same? What do you say? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts!
Jacob is the managing editor of Arkansas Fight. Give him a follow on Twitter at @jacobscottdavis.