FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — In his final season as Wisconsin’s head coach, Bret Bielema watched his team lose three games in overtime, all within the span of one month.
So after accepting the Arkansas job in December 2012, Bielema tried to make being prepared for overtime a priority.
“One of the things I did when we transitioned here was really looked at overtime, looked at the dynamics of it,” Bielema said Wednesday on the SEC coaches teleconference. “The standard easy answer is always go on defense, but there’s a lot more that goes into it than that.
“We take a day during fall camp when we really talk about overtime. Offense, defense, special teams, we explain it to our kids, we go through different scenarios and you prepare for the moment. It comes full circle.”
Still, overtime hasn’t always been friendly to Bielema as the Arkansas coach. His Razorback teams lost their first three overtime games — to Mississippi State in 2013, then to Texas A&M in 2014 and 2015 — but have won the two most recent.
The Hogs beat Ole Miss 53-52 last November in overtime and won 41-38 at TCU just a couple weeks ago.
Of course, overtime games aren’t just limited to the Bielema era in Arkansas history. The Hogs are tied with Tennessee for the most overtime games (18) in FBS history and are 12-6 overall in such contests. Three of the longest four games in FBS history involved Arkansas, including the Hogs’ classic, seven-overtime win at Ole Miss in 2001.
Now, the Razorbacks return to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to play Texas A&M at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium.
Arkansas has lost to the Aggies in four straight seasons, but the last two have been especially heartbreaking. The Hogs held a fourth-quarter lead in both games before ultimately losing in overtime.
“Well, you know, we’ve kinda become overtime poster childs around here,” Bielema joked Wednesday. “We kinda just roll with the punches as they are. We’ve surrendered some leads there in that game in particular, but as is the case when you’re playing A&M, they can score so fast and so sudden, we’ve gotta be able to play the game that unfolds in front of us.”