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John L. Smith gets his first FBS win at Arkansas and increases the pressure on Gene Chizik
There was no way to know for certain, when Zach Hocker's 27-yard field goal sailed through the uprights, that it was going to be enough for Arkansas to win its first game against an FBS team this season. But there was a sense that things were going awry for Auburn. The rest of the game quickly confirmed it.
The maligned Arkansas defense had seven sacks coming into this game; they had eight against Auburn. The Hogs came into the game averaging -2.6 in the turnover department; the Tigers turned the ball over five times, while Arkansas gave it back only twice.
Aside from a solid completion percentage by the two quarterbacks (22-of-35), it was almost a complete disaster for the Auburn offense. Owing largely to the sacks, Auburn's rushing average was 1.3 yards a carry. Emory Blake had a good day (10 catches, 118 yards, the Tigers' one touchdown), but was the only player with more than 100 all-purpose yards.
Is it enough to save John L. Smith's job? No. On the other hand, it might just be enough to seal Gene Chizik's fate. It's rare if not unprecedented to fire a coach who won a national championship two seasons earlier. But it's also rare if not unprecedented for a national championship winning coach to go 3-9 two seasons later -- and Chizik is staring that possibility squarely in the face.
Mostly, though, this game was an opportunity for Arkansas and its fans to remember what it feels like to win. Unfortunately for all, it will likely be one of the few opportunities they will have this season to remember the emotion they thought would be the rule rather than the exception.