Two immediate thoughts spring to mind when learning of a final score reading, 51-50:
a) Van Halen’s iconic “5150” album from 1986 — featuring songs like “Why Can’t This Be Love,” “Dreams,” “Love Comes Walking In” — ushering in the Sammy Hagar era as lead singer.
b) The Arkansas-Mississippi State game must have gone into double or triple overtime.
But that wasn’t the case on Saturday, with the Razorbacks’ Allen (406 yards passing, seven TDs) and Bulldogs’ Prescott (508 yards passing, seven total TDs) shoehorning every bit of their 900-plus yards of total offense and 14 touchdowns into a 60-minute window.
(By comparison, the highest-scoring, non-overtime game in SEC history — Auburn 65, Arkansas 43 in 2010 — included only nine total quarterbacking touchdowns from Cam Newton, Tyler Wilson and Ryan Mallett.)
Of equal importance, Saturday’s absurd compilation of stats didn’t occur during garbage time. It was a pure and classic clash of strength-on-strength, blow-for-blow or even tit-for-tat.
Oh, and very little defense.
Which raises the questions: Does Mississippi State have a schizophrenic offense — scoring just six points against Alabama and then erupting for 51 points seven days later? Or is Arkansas the better choice for exhibiting multiple personalities, stifling LSU on the road last week and then surrendering 20 fourth-quarter points to Mississippi State?
Of course, we’d have a different narrative about Arkansas if the 29-yard attempt from Hogs kicker Cole Hedlund hadn’t been blocked late in the fourth quarter, essentially clinching Mississippi State’s victory. In that hypothetical vain, the Razorbacks would also be basking in a bend-but-don’t-break aura of short-term invincibility, riding five straight wins.
Instead, the hard-to-figure Hogs might be headed for the Texas Bowl or Birmingham Bowl. That’s quite a drop from last week’s talk of a premium bowl bid.
As for Allen, he established the dual feat of becoming Arkansas’ all-time leader in touchdown passes (63), along with setting a new school record for single-game touchdowns (seven). That’s the same Allen who once endured a “streak” of 12 consecutive games with fewer than 200 yards passing (as a sophomore and junior). The same Allen with four outings of zero or one touchdown as a senior.
Fortunately for Arkansas, it’s also the same Allen (14 TDs in his last three games) who has tossed just seven interceptions in his last 17 starts; and the same Allen who will develop into a starter-grade quarterback in the pros someday — assuming he gets drafted by an intelligent NFL franchise (which isn’t always the case).
Regarding Prescott (8,742 yards passing, 107 career TDs), he’s already done enough to warrant a post-career bronze statue on Mississippi State’s campus. He might have also given #HailState Nation a long-lasting pleasant memory that’s on par with the specter of upending Alabama or Ole Miss.