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LSU Tigers 31, Arkansas Razorbacks 27: Bengals Give Hogs' Hope for SEC Win the Boot

Bret Bielema almost got his first conference victory, but the magic that is Les Miles was too much for the Hogs to overcome

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

So close, and yet so far.

There was Arkansas, still looking for Bret Bielema's first SEC win and playing perhaps its best game of the year. They were leading, 27-24, and had pinned LSU well inside the Tigers' 1-yard line. Zach Mettenberger was out, and freshman backup Anthony Jennings was in. Just over three minutes remained in the game. Arkansas was going to get the win, give Bielema a major building block, and deliver the latest devastating blow to a once-promising season for LSU.

But this was Les Miles and this was Tiger Stadium. So of course LSU drove the length of the field, and of course Jennings completed a 49-yard pass to Travin Dural -- who has six receptions total all year -- for the winning touchdown. All of which meant that Arkansas, which played about as well as it could have played against LSU for most of the day, lost that chance at a victory that could have given the coaching staff some momentum heading into the offseason and onto the recruiting trail.

The Bengals all but locked up an appearance in the Cotton Bowl with the win, though Texas A&M might be able to open things back up if the Aggies upset Missouri. It might be hard to not feel disappointed in a trip to Dallas, given that LSU has perhaps the best stable of running backs in the conference, two of the best ten wideouts in the conference (and maybe two of the best five) and an improved Mettenberger throwing the football. But a nine-win season, with a chance for a tenth victory in a bowl, still firmly entrenches the Tigers in the top half of the SEC. It's better than a lot of teams can claim.

As for the Razorbacks, the gut-punch loss hopefully puts a coda on the never-ending series of gut punches that has been Arkansas football since Bobby Petrino's infamous motorcycle ride. Yes, they went 0-8 in the SEC and 3-9 overall this year, but no one said rebuilding the program was going to be easy. Bret Bielema will eventually get his first conference victory -- but it can't come a moment too soon.