This review is based on Bill Connelly's Five Factors of winning, sacks are counted as pass plays, and it doesn't include TCU's clock-killing drive at the end of the first half. It also doesn't include overtime, as college football overtime isn't representative of how a game goes.
|Team||Runs 10+||Pct.||Passes 20+||Pct.||Explosive Pct.|
TCU had success getting big chunks on the ground, but—and I feel like a broken record saying this in 2016—it didn't actually stick with the run as much as it should have. Kenny Hill was particularly dangerous on the ground, logging six of the eight explosive runs. Arkansas had a few big plays but not as many as you'd like to see against a defense that got gashed by an FCS team the week before.
The main measure here is success rate. Watch this short video if you need to brush up on it.
|Team||Run SR||Pass SR||Overall SR||Red Zone SR|
Nearly a third of TCU's runs were good for ten yards or more, and the Frogs' success rate was almost twice as high with the run game. So naturally, they had 49 pass plays and 29 run plays. I get that TCU has an identity as an Air Raid-type team, but there's also something to be said for doing what's actually working.
|Team||1Q SR||2Q SR||3Q SR||4Q SR|
The Arkansas defense did a great job in the first half, pitching a shutout while holding the Frogs to low efficiency rates. It had a catastrophic fourth quarter, however. More on that later.
Efficiency by Player
|Player||Comp. Pct.||Pass Eff.||Yards/Att||Sacks||Pass SR|
Hill had a higher completion percentage and ended up with far more total pass yards, but he also threw a pick-six and missed open receivers on quite a few occasions. Allen wasn't asked to do as much—because he's not in an Air Raid scheme—but he came away from this game looking pretty great.
|Rawleigh Williams III||26||5.0||42.3%|
Williams was good but not great. The Razorbacks had better hope that he stays healthy because Walker just isn't that good. It's been plenty of years for him, and he's a solid backup at best.
Maybe TCU didn't commit more to the run because Arkansas did a pretty good job with Hicks, but the rest of this table doesn't reflect well on the way the Frogs shunned the run.
|Rawleigh Williams III||1||0||0||0.0||0.0%|
Morgan starred last year after the injury plague struck down guys ahead of him, and this year, I wondered if he would continue to produce like a top receiver or fall back to the now-healthier pack. So far, Morgan is looking on track to continue to excel.
Arkansas did a great job at holding down Taj Williams, but it came at the expense of Slanina, Hicks, and especially Turpin thriving. The pass defense has a little ways to go still. I know that TCU is a highly skilled passing offense, but as I mentioned earlier, Hill missed some open guys.
|Team||Avg. Starting Position||Plays in Opp. Territory||Pct. Of Total|
The Frogs had a slight edge in starting position, but that's about all there is to report here.
A trip inside the 40 is a drive where the team has a first down at the opponent's 40 or closer or where it scores from further out than that. A red zone trip is a drive with a first down at the opponent's 20 or closer.
|Team||Drives||Trips Inside 40||Points||Red Zone Trips||Points|
Arkansas did a good job cashing in on its opportunities, with only a missed field goal sullying its record (those 21 points are a touchdown, two field goals, and a touchdown with two-point conversion).
TCU, meanwhile, bungled several of its chances. The Frogs turned it over twice in scoring opportunities, backed themselves out of field goal range with a penalty, and missed a field goal at the end of regulation.
The Hogs won the turnover battle 2-0, and it was critical for their victory. They picked it up when TCU's Deanté Gray fumbled at their own four early on, and Brooks Ellis nabbed a pick-six off of Hill in the second quarter. That's a 14-point swing in the Razorbacks' favor in a game that went to overtime.
Arkansas has notably had trouble with both finishing games and road games in recent years. It felt like both were going to rear their ugly heads in the fourth quarter.
The Hogs' first drive of the period, started late in the third, ended with a missed field goal that left the game at 20-7. TCU answered with a touchdown, which Arkansas answered with a three-and-out. TCU then scored another touchdown to take a 21-20 lead, after which the Razorbacks went three-and-out again. The Frogs then scored another touchdown, officially scoring more points (21) in the quarter than Arkansas had in the whole game up to that point (20).
A penalty and nice kickoff return gave the Hogs a short field, and they did manage to get a touchdown and a two-point conversion to tie it up at 28 with just over a minute to go. Ready for overtime? TCU wasn't. Turpin torched Arkansas again with a monster 64-yard return on the kickoff. TCU may have had a touchdown pass wiped from the scoreboard with an illegal touching penalty, but it still got a 28-yard field goal attempt with ten second to go.
The script said this would give TCU the win. ESPN even kept putting up graphics showing Arkansas as having lots of blown leads and overtime losses in recent seasons throughout the fourth quarter. And yet, the Razorbacks blocked the kick to send it to overtime. A heroic Austin Allen run sealed the deal in the second extra period.
There are plenty of things to talk about with this game that aren't overly flattering to Arkansas. Allen may have only taken one sack, but TCU harassed him plenty. That, combined with a sub-40% success rate on runs, shows that the Hogs' offensive line has taken a couple of steps back from last year. When you combine that much with the fact that Hill's scrambling and running flummoxed the defense, suddenly the team looks like it's in big trouble against teams like Alabama and Texas A&M. Plus, needing to block a field goal so as not to lose a game in which the team took a 13-point lead and a promising possession into the fourth quarter is not great. Nor is being fortunate that the opposite team was ignoring how good its run game was performing.
But if there ever was a game where the stats don't matter, it's this one. Arkansas went on the road and beat a pretty good TCU team. The Frogs aren't the playoff contenders they were the past two years, but they're still one of the nation's 25 best. The Razorbacks nearly gave it away as they've done painfully a few times under Bret Bielema, but they managed to hold on and win. It was dull for three quarters and then messy for the fourth, but this was the kind of breakthrough win that Arkansas has been looking for.
Psychologically, this has to be a big boost for the team. It gets one more chance to tune things up, against Texas State, before heading to JerryWorld to play Texas A&M. We'll soon find out how much noise the Hogs will make in the SEC, and they've not had a tail wind like this win propelling them into conference play in a while.