A week after watching Arkansas State get robbed in over time against Western Kentucky, I was able to feel the other side of the emotional spectrum that comes with playing in overtime:relief. The 13th ranked Arkansas Razorbacks pulled out a 38-31 two overtime victory over the 21st ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs in Starkville, Mississippi Saturday night.
It was a game that almost went the other way. With just a few minutes left in regulation, the Hogs were trying to run the clock out with a three-point lead, but on a 3rd and 8 play, Knile Davis was given the ball and was running the to the right when a Bulldog defender dislodged the ball and Mississippi State recovered. They were able to get within the 10 yarline of Arkansas, but were stopped on 3rd down with no time outs and the field goal unit rushed out to kick the game tying goal.
Zach Hocker, who had only missed one field goal all year against Texas A&M, shanked one wide left for the Hogs in the first overtime period, doing his best imitation of Alex Tejada from the LSU game last year. But Mississippi State wasn’t perfect either. When the Bulldogs received the ball, one of their running backs made his way to within a couple of yards of the end zone, but after losing his balance a Arkansas defenders helmet sent the ball flying out of the back of the end zone, resulting in a touch back.
In the second over time, Davis redeemed himself, with a seven yard touchdown catch from Ryan Mallett to give the Hogs a 38-31 lead. The game would be won when Bulldog quarterback Chris Relf was sacked on 4th down to end the game. Arkansas is now 9-2 and 5-2 in SEC play. They’re record in away games improves to 3-1 with the win in Starkville. That is vast improvement over last season when the Hogs were winless on the road.
The Hogs now face a LSU team next Saturday that is 10-1 and 6-1 in SEC play after narrowly beating Ole Miss 43-36 at home Saturday night. LSU is currently ranked 6th after Wisconsin jumped passed them after defeating Michigan in the Big House for the first time since the 80’s. Boise State was the only top four team to play this weekend, thumping Fresno State 51-0 Friday night.
Last night was another chapter in the Arkansas book of over time epics, the second OT win in a row after the Hogs beat East Carolina in the Liberty Bowl. It wasn’t on the same scale of the seven OT games against Ole Miss and Kentucky or upsetting #1 LSU in 2007 but it’s one that will be remembered as crucial for the Hogs hopes of reaching their first BCS bowl. The Hogs only moved up one spot to 12th in both the AP and Coaches polls with Nebraska being the only top 10 team to lose this weekend.
What were you thinking in the final minutes of the game? Also, let me know how you think the Hogs will fare next Saturday against the LSU Tigers.