No one expected much of a game when the Kentucky Wildcats met the Arkansas Razorbacks on Nov. 1, 2003. Both teams were about .500, Arkansas at 4-3 and Kentucky at 4-4. UK's victories came against Murray State, Indiana, Ohio and Mississippi State -- in other words, their schedule was more difficult back then than it is now. Arkansas had lost three straight to Auburn, Florida and Ole Miss after winning its first four games. A dramatic win against Texas seemed like a long time ago as the Hogs traveled to Lexington.
It didn't look like much of a game at halftime, either. Arkansas had a 21-7 lead, with Kentucky's lone touchdown having come on a blocked punt. But Kentucky outscored Arkansas 17-3 in the second half to force overtime.
What followed made the contest one of the most exciting and exhausting games in college football.
What followed, specifically? Just 86 points in seven overtimes that pushed the game near the five-hour mark and kept Rich Brooks up far past his bedtime. (Even Houston Nutt probably needed a very small dose of caffeine to stay awake for the whole thing.)
Arkansas scored first in the first overtime; Kentucky responded. The Cats then scored to start the second extra period; Arkansas answered. Back and forth they went. When Arkansas settled for a field goal in the third overtime, Kentucky also had to kick for three points. In the fifth overtime, the Razorbacks failed to convert the required two-point coversion; so did Kentucky.
"We had ample opportunities to win the game," Rich Brooks said. No kidding.
Finally, late in the seventh overtime with Arkansas leading 71-63, Jared Lorenzen fumbled and Arkansas Tony Bua recovered the ball to end the game.
By then, the two teams had combined for 1,111 yards and 58 first downs on 202 offensive plays. DeCori Birmingham alone carried the ball 40 times for 196 yards and 2 TDs for Arkansas. Nine players had at least one passing, rushing or receiving touchdown.
The win sparked a monthlong winning streak for Arkansas that wouldn't end until a 55-24 loss to LSU on Nov. 28. (The other teams were a mediocre South Carolina, New Mexico State and Mississippi State.) A 27-14 win against Missouri in the Independence Bowl wrapped up a 9-4 season.
Kentucky lost its remaining three games against Vanderbilt, Georgia and Tennessee to finish the year 4-8. It was the first of three losing seasons for Brooks in Lexington before a resurgence that will include Kentucky's fourth bowl game later this month.