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Arkansas coach Bret Bielema

Hogs for Breakfast: Arkansas football actually overachieved in 2016

Eric Bolin

The difficulty in looking at the season that just occurred when it ended so badly is it becomes easy to assign that final feeling to everything that happened throughout the season.

What I mean is, because Arkansas lost its final two games to Missouri and Virginia Tech — and how the Razorbacks lost them on top of that — the whole season kind of gets painted as a disaster, an underachievement. Some might even say a failure. The problem is if one waits until April or so to look back on it, it’s too late. Things have already shifted to the next season, what with spring practice going on then.

In that vein, I think the opposite is actually true.

Arkansas didn’t have a bad year, though it is true the Hogs had a bad ending. The Razorbacks didn’t underachieve, despite what some of the local yokels told you in August. Arkansas ultimately finished with the exact regular-season record it should have and, as it turns out, collecting those seven wins required a bit of luck.

It’s not hard to paint a picture, in retrospect, that sees Arkansas winning just three or four games this season. There was never a chance Texas State or Alcorn State were beating Bret Bielema’s team. Literally every other game the Razorbacks won, though?

Louisiana Tech avoids hitting the upright on a second-half field, it wins. Louisiana Tech has its regular quarterback, it might have won. After all, Arkansas won by a single point.

Beating TCU required all sorts of minor miracles, not the least of which was a two-point conversion to tie the game and send it to overtime. Arkansas won by three points in two OTs.

Arkansas used a fourth-down conversion in the fourth-quarter, game-winning drive against Ole Miss. Don’t get it, instead, that game is a loss.

The Razorbacks had to put up school records offensively to beat Mississippi State by two touchdowns. The defense gave up more than 40 points that night.

Four games Arkansas very, very easily could have lost. The Hogs didn’t. They won. And with those wins came some measure of notoriety. The good kind. The TCU game was arguably one of the most entertaining in college football this season. Mississippi State showed Arkansas’ offense, when on, can be among the nation’s best. There was plenty to like about each of those things. And every team, at some point or another, catches breaks the way the Razorbacks did.

They just didn’t catch them against Missouri and Virginia Tech. The breaks went the other way. Red zone turnovers against the Tigers. And, well, everything against the Hokies.

This isn’t to say you should be OK with the way things ended. It’s to say, simply, that taken as a whole, Arkansas did pretty close to what it was always supposed to this season. Might have just stung a little more because of how it ended.

As for what it means in 2017, it is, of course, to be determined. But seven wins, give or take, seem about right. It’s just what Arkansas does.

ICYMI