Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Tyler Wilson came back Saturday for the first time since the infamous Louisiana-Monroe game. Cobi Hamilton had an SEC-record 303 receiving yards. Overall, the offense churned out 492 yards.
And Arkansas lost, the defense giving up 526 yards of total offense to Rutgers and allowing Gary Nova to go 25-of-35 for 397 yards and five touchdowns. And just like that, a season that Arkansas fans thought couldn't get any worse, somehow did.
That's not to trash Rutgers, which has now won three road games in its first four contests and looks very much like a contender for the Big East championship. But with time running out to keep this season from spiraling out of control, Arkansas needed a win against whoever was next on the calendar, and Rutgers fit the bill. With Arkansas playing at home, and Rutgers not having done that much to distinguish themselves yet, the Razorbacks were favorites to start turning things around.
Instead, Arkansas now faces Texas A&M in College Station next week and visits Auburn the week after that. If it loses both of those games, there's no telling where exactly the floor is. Maybe Kentucky is a win. Ole Miss? Tulsa? And you can go ahead and write off the South Carolina-Mississippi State-LSU stretch that ends the season. A bowl game begins to look like a more and more remote possibility.
The idea at Arkansas seems to have been that, win or lose, the Hogs would be able to ride out the season with John L. Smith at the controls. That's becoming a more and more precarious notion as the season progresses, and as the losses to teams that Arkansas should defeat keep piling up. If Jeff Long wants to keep his fan base from full-on mutiny and save his own job, he might have to pull the plug on the John L. Smith experiment sooner rather than later.