For a good shot at a bowl game, the Arkansas Razorbacks really needed to beat the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday.
That didn't happen. Arkansas lost 21-34 to South Carolina, dropping their record to 4-6 (1-5 in the SEC). South Carolina wound up 7-3 (4-3 in the SEC) after the game.
Of course, the Hogs needed to reach that mystical 6 wins mark to make it to even a crummy bowl. To get there, they'll have to win against both Mississippi State (3-6, 1-4) and LSU (6-3, 3-3 in the SEC).
Arkansas has a shot next week on Nov. 22 when the Hogs travel to Miss State. Arkansas is sixth in the SEC West and Miss State is fifth -- neither team is that good, honestly.
However, LSU comes to Little Rock the day after Thanksgiving to take on the Hogs. Uh, that game is problematic. LSU ought to stomp Arkansas unless those Tigers are so full of turkey that they're slow and falling asleep. Well, Arkansas might pull off a miracle, but that seems unlikely this year. The season hasn't exactly been one filled with miracles, has it?
There was something that came out of the South Carolina game that gives us Hogs fans hope, however. The much maligned Casey Dick did manage to hit receiver Jarius Wright for a 70-yard play that ended in a touchdown. Arkansas hasn't done that yet this year.
There were some concerns, however. Once again, the offensive line was terrible and Dick got sacked six times. When he wasn't getting sack, poor Dick was running for his life. This is a young team so, hopefully, they'll learn a thing or two about pass protection by next season.
That will be too late for Dick, however, as he's a senior.
Also, Michael Smith got hurt. He's the running back that has been the only truly great player on the team this year. Arkansas has a bye week coming up, so let's hope those two weeks give Smith plenty of time to heal and he'll be effective against Miss State.
Now, I know a lot of my fellow Arkansans are complaining about new head coach Bobby Petrino. They need to shut the hell up. Houston Nutt, master recruiter that he is, left Petrino with nothing. Nutt's over in Ole Miss with a very talented team and Petrino is making do at Arkansas.
Give Petrino some time. He'll right the ship soon enough.
I have a feeling that Arkansas will wind up 5-7 and they'll miss out on bowl season. Anyone who knew anything about who would be left on the team this year and that a new coach would be coming in should have known things could wind up like this. You don't lose two outstanding running backs like Darren McFadden (he's playing for the Oakland Raiders now) and Felix Jones (who plays for the Dallas Cowboys) and bounce back quickly.
Meanwhile, here in Benton...
My beloved Benton Panthers took a beating on Thursday and are out of the playoff picture. Benton got stomped by Watson Chapel, 19-57. Watson Chapel isn't that great, currently ranked fifth in the 6A South with a conference record of 3-4 (4-5 overall).
I love high school football (it's a big deal here in Arkansas), but it's been hard to watch Benton this year. The team is just awful.
Now, the 6A South is an eight-team division and six of those teams are going to the playoffs. Benton finished seventh in the league with a conference record of 1-6 (2-8 overall). It's pretty pitiful when you can't even go to the playoffs when six teams in an eight-team division are going. You've got to be pretty rotten to to miss that very big boat, indeed.
Thank God for Little Rock's J.A. Fair. They came in dead last in the division by not winning a game all year. Benton beat them, and the Panthers beat Conway earlier this season.
My dad and I go to almost all of Benton's home games (we're both proud Benton graduates, so we like to see how our alma mater is doing). Neither one of us can remember a time when Benton looked so disorganized, undersized and just plain uncompetitive.
Well, there's always next year, right?