FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas entered its 2016 regular-season finale with some momentum, but as became customary for this Razorback team, every ounce of it was zapped.
SEC Country has been taking a game-by-game look through Arkansas’ regular season over the last few weeks, and we wrap up with the Hogs’ dreadful 28-24 loss at Missouri on Nov. 25.
The Razorbacks will face Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 29 in Charlotte, N.C.
Is Arkansas-Missouri’s “Battle Line Rivalry” game a real rivalry? Probably not quite yet, but the 2016 version of this fledgling trophy game might help sow the seeds of hatred.
First, there were Mizzou linebacker Eric Beisel’s comments early in the week that fired up Razorback Nation.
Then came the game itself.
On the first play from scrimmage in this Black Friday contest, Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen completed a 66-yard pass to Keon Hatcher, putting the Hogs at the Mizzou 1-yard line. On the next play, Rawleigh Williams III scored.
Missouri evened the score later in the first quarter. Receiver Johnathon Johnson rushed 82 yards to the Arkansas 8-yard line and the Tigers scored one play later in an odd fashion. Missouri’s Ish Witter appeared to score but dropped the ball before crossing the goal line. Upon further review, officials determined that Witter had dropped the ball, but that Missouri’s J’Mon Moore recovered it in the end zone.
After freshman Devwah Whaley scored on a 30-yard run, Allen threw a touchdown pass to Austin Cantrell and kicker Adam McFain added a field goal, this game looked pretty well won for the Razorbacks. The Hogs took a 24-7 lead into halftime, and there was little-to-no indication that Missouri’s offense would be capable of getting the Tigers back into the game.
Then the second half happened.
Missouri drove down the field and scored on the first series of the third quarter. Arkansas’ offense followed with a nice long drive of its own, but Missouri’s Cale Garrett intercepted Allen in the end zone on a third-and-goal play from the Tigers’ 3-yard line.
A well-timed and impressive fake punt gave Missouri new life on its ensuing drive, allowing the Tigers to pull with three points after quarterback Drew Lock connected with Johnson for a 67-yard score.
Mizzou took the lead early in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard Nate Strong touchdown run.
The Arkansas offense ran a total of eight second-half plays from inside Missouri’s 10-yard line and came away with no points.
The Hogs threatened to score on two different drives within the final 7 minutes of the game, but the first ended with another Allen interception and the second sealed Arkansas’ fate when Missouri’s Marcell Frazier sacked Allen for a 17-yard loss on fourth-and-goal with 35 seconds to play.
Here is a highlight video from the game:
Check out the stats and scoring summary from the game here, via College Football Reference.
Our stories from the game
- Jason Kersey’s Instant Analysis: Arkansas blows big lead, loses 28-24 at Missouri
- What Bret Bielema said after the game
- From Jason Kersey: Bielema not planning on staff changes, but won’t rule them out, either
- From Eric Bolin: The unkindest cut of all; Arkansas stomped to death in Columbia
- From Trent Shadid: Arkansas’ red-zone failures make loss tough to swallow
- From Jason Kersey: The fake punt that changed everything
- From Jason Kersey: Austin Allen ‘disgusted’ by Razorbacks’ loss to Missouri
- Jason Kersey’s Report Card: Arkansas falls apart after halftime
- Trent Shadid’s Film Study: Big plays plague Hogs in disappointing loss
What we learned about Arkansas
This is a truly tough section to complete for this game. Arkansas’ offense put up yards and — in the first half, at least — points against Missouri. The Hogs just puzzlingly couldn’t put the ball in the end zone after halftime.
The easiest thing to say we learned about Arkansas in its Missouri loss is this: The 2016 Razorbacks were confirmed as one of the most inconsistent, difficult-to-figure-out squad in college football.
The loss to Missouri meant that for the final 10 games of the 2016 regular season, Arkansas was unable to win consecutive contests. Many of those losses are understandable — Texas A&M, Alabama, Auburn and LSU all have rosters filled with NFL talent.
The only positive thing you can say about Arkansas’ unbelievable lack of consistency this season is that if the trend continues, the Hogs will be celebrating a Belk Bowl victory over a good Virginia Tech team next week.
Fan Panic Meter: 10
There was no good excuse for Arkansas to lose this game. The Hogs were not only clearly the more talented team, but also blew a 17-point halftime lead, in large part because they were held scoreless after the break.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about this game for Arkansas fans is that their team had every opportunity to put it away. Just a single touchdown on any of the Razorbacks’ second-half red-zone trips would have sealed it.
Instead of earning an eighth regular-season win — which would have given Arkansas its best pre-bowl record of the Bielema era — the Hogs were left wondering how they could have let such a winnable game slip away.
The rest of the series
- Game 1: Arkansas 21, Louisiana Tech 20 (Sept. 3)
- Game 2: Arkansas 41, TCU 38, 2 OT (Sept. 10)
- Game 3: Arkansas 42, Texas State 3 (Sept. 17)
- Game 4: Texas A&M 45, Arkansas 24 (Sept. 24)
- Game 5: Arkansas 52, Alcorn State 10 (Oct. 1)
- Game 6: Alabama 49, Arkansas 30 (Oct. 8)
- Game 7: Arkansas 34, Ole Miss 30 (Oct. 15)
- Game 8: Auburn 56, Arkansas 3 (Oct. 22)
- Game 9: Arkansas 31, Florida 10 (Nov. 5)
- Game 10: LSU 38, Arkansas 10 (Nov. 12)
- Game 11: Arkansas 58, Mississippi State 42 (Nov. 19)