LSU 20, Arkansas 13: In John L. Smith's Final Game, Arkansas is Just Good and Bad Enough to Beat Itself

Wesley Hitt

Don't take credit away from LSU for the victory -- but the way that Arkansas lost this game is the reason that the interim head coach isn't going to get a new deal

There was a moment early in this game when it felt like Arkansas' season was going to suddenly jump back onto the train tracks. The Razorbacks were effortlessly driving down the field after a 34-yard return of the opening kickoff. They were at the LSU 9, Tyler Wilson rolled out and hit Dennis Johnson -- who promptly coughed up the ball at the Tigers 2.

It was perhaps the closest LSU would come to defeat all day.

Given that the next two Arkansas plays were a muffed punt that the Hogs recovered and a Tyler Wilson interception on the first play of the ensuing drive, it's something of a miracle that Arkansas was ever in a position to make this a game. But Arkansas was also a big part of the reason that LSU ended up winning this game.

There were, of course, the two turnovers. Bad clock management meant a drive at the end of the first half ended in a missed field goal, the second of the game. Basically, everything that had gone wrong for Arkansas all season went wrong in this game. The Hogs outgained LSU 462-306 and essentially shut down the Tigers' running game -- one of the things your humble correspondent identified as a key to the upset -- and came up short anyway.

That's not to take away anything from LSU's victory -- if there's a team in the entire country that creates its own luck, it's LSU. And the Tigers held Wilson to a yard and a half less per attempt than he was averaging coming into this game. But if you want to know why John L. Smith's contract is unlikely to be extended beyond it's 10-month run, just find the replay of this game -- it's a microcosm of what went wrong for the Hogs this year, and the latest reason for Razorback fans to want to put everything about the 2012 campaign in the rearview mirror.

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