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WE GOT THAT BOOT

Arkansas
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One of my favorite things about the Hogs’ win over LSU on Saturday was that, as KevinHog put it, no miracle was required. Sure, things did get a little wacky there at the end of the first half, but overall it was a solid, end-to-end victory. It was the kind of solid win that a BCS-bound team should produce (and that the Hogs have traditionally managed to let slip away in the past…see the 2006 LSU game for reference). LSU is a good team and put up a tough fight, as expected, but in the end there was no doubt about who was better.

Other thoughts:

* as a Little Rock guy now living far away, I always get a particular thrill from seeing War Memorial on national TV. I went to many Razorback games there as a boy, and my high school (Go Rockets) played there as well. Love that place.

* I’m guessing both teams were a little too wound up at the start of the game…the first quarter was exceedingly sloppy all around. I kept picturing people from around the country seeing the Hogs and Tigers for the first time and thinking “these teams are supposed to be good?”

* it wouldn’t be an Arkansas-LSU game without a little crazy, and the sequence to end the first half was about as crazy as it gets: LSU fumble deep in their own territory + Arkansas interception in the end zone + Les Miles actually leaving too much time on the clock with an incredibly short possession + that insane Ryan Mallett/Cobi Hamilton bomb as time expired…all in about two minutes of game time. Dizzying!

* Props to Alex Tejada for making a couple of potentially game-saving tackles on Patrick Peterson‘s painfully long kickoff returns.

* Although it didn’t feel like a great thing at the time, the decisive point of the game was when LSU took over on the Hogs’ 9 yard line after Dylan Breeding‘s muffed punt in the 3rd quarter. Instead of letting the Tigers roll in for an easy TD and the lead, the Razorback defense stiffened with three consecutive great plays: a touchdown-saving open field tackle on a screen pass, stuffing a run up the middle for no gain and batting away the corner fade pass on 3rd down. From that moment on, it was all Arkansas.

* Continuing the theme of the above point, the defense played its best game of the year. Hats off to them (and especially SEC defensive player of the week Jerico Nelson). LSU had just 71 yards of offense in the second half.

* After the aforementioned defensive stand, the offense rose to the occasion with two of the best drives I can remember from an Arkansas team: first, an 11 play march that culminated in Mallett’s triumphant 39 yard TD pass to Joe Adams on 4th down (and featured a couple of huge 3rd down conversions before that), then, after a quick stop by the defense, a smashmouth masterpiece that featured nine straight butt-kicking runs by Knile Davis and Broderick Green.

* Les Miles must have still been a little sleepy from too much Thanksgiving turkey, because we never even saw a glimpse of the wackiness that’s made him famous. LSU had several opportunities to go for it on 4th down and never did…in fact, it was Bobby Petrino who broke the game open with that ballsy 4th down call on the TD pass to Adams.

* Cobi Hamilton is a proud Texarkana native, but he must feel a special connection with Little Rock: in his two SEC games at War Memorial the speedy WR has caught TD passes of 85, 80, 64 and 58 yards. And, he made the game-clinching recovery of LSU’s last minute onside kick. Not too shabby.

* I alluded to this in the intro, but in 2006 the highly-ranked Hogs took on the highly-ranked Tigers in War Memorial with a BCS bowl on the line and managed to lose in typically Nutty fashion. Very nice to come full circle and close it out this time.

* Final thought: when was the last time the Razorbacks had a win this big? Submit your suggestions in the comments section, because I’m having trouble thinking of one.

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For Bequette, War Memorial is Home

Arkansas
Content provided by The Slophouse.

LITTLE ROCK - For Jake Bequette, returning to War Memorial Stadium each fall is returning home.

Bequette, like so many Arkansas players from the state’s capital city, have fond memories of games inside the venue. But for Bequette those memories are more frequent, as the stadium also served as his homefield at Little Rock Catholic High School.

“It means a lot to me and I’ve been playing there a lot of years,” said Bequette, a junior defensive end. “Every time I go into the locker room I kind of look at my old high school locker and laugh, and think about how far I’ve come and how much it means to play there again.”

Bequette is one of 14 players on the Razorbacks roster from Little Rock and he said he can’t remember a game at War Memorial Stadium with as much at stake as the one Saturday between No. 12 Arkansas and No. 5 LSU.

“This is one of those games you come up here to play in and one of those games you play college football for,” Bequette said. “Every game at War Memorial is a big game. I’ve been fortunate enough to play on some good teams in both college and high school there. I haven’t lost there in a long time and I don’t want to start Saturday.”

For other players, like tight end D.J. Williams, the stadium has a different significance as the home of the state championship games for the Arkansas high school playoffs. Williams, who played at Central Arkansas Christian just outside Little Rock in Maumelle, won a state championship inside those walls.

“I’ve had some good memories at War Memorial and some bad ones as well,” Williams said. “I’ve lost a couple of games there but for the most part it’s been good.”

Joe Adams, a teammate of Williams at CAC, said War Memorial Stadium’s noise is among the loudest in the SEC, despite seating only 55,000.

“Little Rock’s going to be real loud,” Adams said. “Everybody’s rowdy. It’s not like the Fayetteville crowd.”

Williams and Adams, like most on the Arkansas roster, have never lost a game in Little Rock while members of the Razorbacks. Arkansas’ last loss here came in 2006, to LSU in a game with similar build-up to the one here on Saturday. In fact, the Razorbacks’ only two losses at War Memorial Stadium since 1997 have come to the hands of the Tigers.

“That’s our back yard,” Williams said. “It’s like playing with your friends at your house. It’s hard for anybody to come into your house and try to take what’s yours, which our right to win at the Rock.

“That’s not to take anything away from LSU because we know they’ll come here and play a very hard game. But that’s our home and a lot of us guys from Little Rock feel like we’ve got to do whatever we can to protect it, so we’re going to play extremely hard.”

Bequette, a third-generation Razorback, said he has fond memories of Arkansas-LSU games here, including the 2002 “Miracle on Markham” which sent Arkansas to the SEC Championship Game with a 21-20 win over the Tigers.

“I was actually on the field for the Miracle on Markham,” Bequette said. “I could have reached out and picked off that pass if DeCori Birmingham wasn’t there. That was a really cool moment.”

Bequette was also on the field for a similar finish with the Tigers two years ago when Casey Dick came off the bench to lead Arkansas to a 31-30 come-from-behind win over the Tigers. Dick capped the comeback with a 31-yard touchdown pass to London Crawford on a fourth down in the game’s final minute. That win gave the Razorbacks momentum heading into the offseason, momentum they have been riding since.

“I think two years ago it kind of showed the character of this team and the direction this program was headed,” Bequette said. “We weren’t really playing for anything except pride and to finish the season on a good note. We did that against a really good LSU team.

“This year it means a lot more for us. We have a chance to have 10 regular season wins and get to a BCS bowl game. We’re going to play accordingly.”

For more visit WholeHogSports.com. You can follow Matt Jones on Twitter @NWAMatt.

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Boot Battle Memories #4: McFadden Explodes

Arkansas
Content provided by Razorback Expats.

Continuing in our series of favorite LSU-related memories, the #4 slot goes to an event from what was ultimately a fairly crushing game: the 2006 one in War Memorial. But, Darren McFadden‘s 80-yard touchdown in the 4th quarter to suddenly bring the score within five was so amazing it transcends the crappiness of the way it all ended. The way he shot out through the line and accelerated past the all-stars on the LSU D like they were standing still will stay with me for awhile.

Unfortunately, a clip of that play wasn’t available on YouTube, so here’s a D-Mac highlight video shown as part of the Arkansas-LSU pregame show. Still good stuff:

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Hey, It’s LSU Week!

Arkansas
Content provided by Razorback Expats.

As every Razorback fan knows, the LSU Tigers are reauxlling into Little Rock this weekend to battle for the Golden Boot and the SEC’s potential 2nd BCS bowl berth. Although there are few guarantees in life, here are two absolute locks: the game will be close and the game will be crazy.

How crazy? Well, as Dem-Gaz scribe Tom Murphy pointed out on Twitter today, the combined score of the last three Arkansas-LSU battles is 111-111 with 4 OTs. Throw in the high stakes of this matchup, mix ample amounts of an unstoppable Razorback offense and an immovable Tiger defense, and then throw in a dollop of War Memorial grass in honor of Les Miles and you have the recipe for another classic.

We’ll have more in the coming days, of course, but for starters we want to hear from you: pick your favorite LSU game in our poll, then tell us about your favorite Bayou Bengal-related memories in the comments section.

Poll
Which recent Arkansas-LSU game is your favorite?




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LSU game wallpaper

It's a BCS showdown at War Memorial on Saturday for the Golden Boot
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