WHY ARKANSAS LOST
The Razorbacks (3-9, 0-8) let a terrific opportunity for a season-defining win slip away in a way that really defined the season. The Arkansas defense, which played well from the second quarter on, turned into a sieve on LSU’s final series, letting the Tigers march 99 yards with less than 3 minutes to play and relying on their backup quarterback, freshman Anthony Jennings, to lead it. The drive was capped by wide receiver Travin Dural being left wide open by Hogs cornerback Jared Collins for a 49-yard touchdown pass from Jennings. Before that, Arkansas had done everything it needed to pull an upset as a 25-point underdog in Baton Rouge, and LSU seemed to lose its edge early in the second quarter after cruising to a pair of touchdowns by Terrence Magee of 29 and 23 yards. Arkansas answered the first LSU score with an 86-yard drive, then tied the game with 6:14 left in the half on another 86-yard drive. The Hogs then turned LSU turnovers late in the first half and early in the second into Zach Hocker fIeld goals, and regained the lead with 50 seconds left in the third quarter on Brandon Allen’s 9-yard pass to Hunter Henry. But in the fourth quarter, the offense had two straight three-and-outs trying to hold onto the lead by running the ball up the middle, and even got a Sam Irwin-Hill punt to the LSU 1 but couldn’t hold on.
FLAG? NO PROBLEM
Arkansas always seemed to shoot itself in the foot this season with a critical bad play, and it appeared it was happening again when backup linebacker Daunte Carr was flagged for holding, wiping out Korliss Marshall’s 100-yard kickoff return right after LSU had taken a 7-0 lead. Instead, Arkansas had to take over at its 14. But Brandon Allen led an 86-yard scoring drive in 8 plays, capped by Kiero Small’s 3-yard run from a direct snap. Arkansas had its best success of the season on offense against one of the league’s best defenses, with scoring drives of 86, 86 and 75 yards. Hunter Henry was on the receiving end of 9 and 2 yards for scores.
HOGS ARE LEADING?
Arkansas was in front of LSU 17-14 at halftime, the first time in eight SEC games that the Hogs had led the opponent at the half. Last week, the Razorbacks were deadlocked 10-10 with Mississippi State and led that game 17-10 early in the fourth quarter before the Bulldogs tied the game. Needless to say, Arkansas’ 27-24 lead with 2:55 showing was the latest the Hogs had led in an SEC game this year. Last week, freshman running back Alex Collins fumbled on the Mississippi State 9 yard line with 5:22 to play in the game in a drive that would have put the Razorbacks in front.
Arkansas’ ability to convert third downs was big during the second and third quarters, but the Hogs had two three-and-outs in the fourth quarter that hampered their chances to win. In all, the Hogs converted 5 of 12 third downs. LSU had 7 conversions in 12 third-down attempts, including the game-winning touchdown pass from Jennings to Dural. LSU was out of time outs and down to 1:22 with the ball at midfield when the Tigers connected on the game-winner.
We’ll probably never fully know just how injured Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen’s shoulder was when he suffered a separation in the third game of the year. But Allen seemed to underthrow receivers last week, including wide open Jeremy Sprinkle, who had to wait on a throw that turned into a 44-yarde play and put the Hogs in position to win their first SEC last week. On Friday, Allen was underthrowing in key situations again. Once, he had Javontee Herndon nearly 20 yards behind the LSU secondary but threw a duck that was knocked away by the Tigers’ secondary. Then in the second half, following a big run by Korliss Marshall to the Tigers 32, Allen came up short trying for the tall, loping Sprinkle down the left sideline in the end zone, and LSU’s Jalen Mills made an easy interception. Had the ball been throw to the end zone corner, Sprinkle had Mills beaten.
After surrending 170 yards in the first half, Arkansas’ defense buckled to give up 300 yards in the second half. But in the second quarter, the Hogs gave up just 24 yards as they began to change the game Arkansas’ way.
Arkansas, meanwhile, managed just 122 yards after halftime after gaining 238 in the first half. Brandon Allen passed for 178 yards on 19 of 29 passing with one interception. Allen also fumbled on the Hogs’ last offensive play.
Alex Collins passed 1,000 yards for his freshman season on his first carry of the game, but Collins managed just 28 yards on 11 carries for the day. Jonahtan Wiloiams led the Hogs with 58 yards on 13 carries. Korliss Marshall had 45 yards on 3 carries. Receiver Javontee Herndon gained 50 yards on 2 carries, including a 42-yard run from the tailback spot on a quick pitch.
Arkansas and LSU will see their game moved to earlier in November beginning next season. The game has been the traditional season finale for the teams since Arkansas joined the SEC in 1992. Arkansas won the first matchup 30-6 in Fayetteville and won its first trip into Baton Rouge as an SEC member 42-24 in 1993. But LSU has won the last three matchups, though the past two have been decided by a touchdown or less. LSU has a 14-8 edge over Arkansas since the teams became SEC rivals. Next season, LSU will finish up with Texas A&M while Missouri becomes Arkansas’ traditional season finale.
Arkansas will take a team record 12-game SEC losing streak into Auburn for the season opener in 2013. It will mark the first time Arkansas has opened conference play on the first playing date.