“They remember November,” said Frank Broyles.
The Arkansas icon, former athletic director and head coach is famously known for his terrific finishes to seasons. During his time as at Arkansas, Broyles compiled a 50-15-4 record during the month of November.
The Razorback football team weren’t in a good place during the month of October. After losing a home game to Auburn, the Razorbacks looked dead in the water. They lost their legs and were beat up. Heck, they were emotionally, physically and mentally drained following what was the hardest stretch of games any team in the country would face.
Sitting at 4-3 overall and 1-3 in conference, the Hogs went on to defeat UAPB in Little Rock before a much needed bye week to get folks healthy. Oh, and just that they did!
The Hogs brought Mississippi State in and nearly shut down the Bulldogs air raid again for the second consecutive year. A four yard touchdown run by Dominique Johnson saved the day for Arkansas with 21 seconds left to play. After the game, Sam Pittman introduced Larry the bowling ball as Arkansas became bowl eligible for the first time since 2016. Winning the game versus the Bulldogs was also one of the four b’s Pittman had in place as their goals for November.
Arkansas went down to Baton Rogue to bring the Golden Boot back home after five seasons. The offense wasn’t pretty but the defense played spectacular. The Hogs had to depend on Cam Little’s and his leg as he would go 3-3 on field goals as Arkansas won in overtime 16-13.
The offensive ineptness that was the week prior against the Tigers didn’t translate to the next week. The Razorbacks were 20 point underdogs to the Alabama Crimson Tide but they went toe to toe with the best program in college football for the past 15 seasons. Going into halftime down 24-14, the Razorbacks gave up another touchdown that would give the Tide a 31-14 lead as it looked like they would cruise. Nope. Wrong! The Hogs would continue to stay in it with a 68 yards catch and run by Treylon Burks to pull within ten again.
Later in the fourth quarter, special teams coach Scott Fountain rolled the dice with a fake field goal turned into a touchdown by Reid Bauer. He found Blake Kern over the middle of the field as he carried Alabama players into the endzone to trim the lead to 34-28. A “touchdown catch” by Jameson Williams put the Tide ahead but Arkansas roared back to pull within seven again, 42-35.
You cannot argue about the direction of the program following that close loss. Usually, the game against Alabama will tell you where a program is at for being competing in the Southeastern Conference. If that showing in Tuscaloosa is foreshadowing the future of the Razorbacks then they are closer than anyone thought they were.
Missouri came to Fayetteville only to be stomped continuously by the Razorback defense. Arkansas put away five years of misery away and left no doubt on which team was the better one in this edition of the Battle Line Rivalry. The fourth and final “B” of the November goals was to win the Battle Line. The Hogs had been embarrassed far to long by a program that they should be much better than annually. Luckily, for Missouri they found Arkansas during the darkest decade in program history. By the looks of it though they have distanced themselves far away from it.
You can’t complete an article about a November to Remember without acknowledging the work that starting quarterback KJ Jefferson has done.
November stat line:
74/97, 921 yards, 6 TDs and 0 interceptions.
45 rushes, 135 yards
Jefferson truly got better every single week of the 2021 season. His progression under offensive coordinator Kendal Briles has been phenomenal and deserves the recognition as one of the best single seasons by a Razorback quarterback ever.
He broke the season record for quarterback rating and was the first to quarterback to record 3000 yards of total offense since Austin Allen in 2016.
A finish like this statistically should give Jefferson some looks to be a Heisman dark horse for the 2022 season. Arkansas fans know he certainly passes the eye test. If Pittman can hold his offensive staff together for one more season the Razorback offense could be bonkers next season.
This was definitely a November to Remember. One that saw Arkansas rise back into national respectability and annual bowl eligibility. Arkansas isn’t quite “back” yet but they are on pace to get “back” faster than expected.