Posted by Jerry Hinnen
ARKANSAS WON: For a half, it looked like Houston Nutt had his magic upset mojo working and working hard, with the Rebels dominating the line-of-scrimmage on both sides of the ball, Randall Mackey looking sharp (that's him scoring a first-half touchdown at right), and Ole Miss eventually going up 17-0 halfway through the second quarter. But from that point on it was -- almost literally -- all Razorbacks, with Tyler Wilson warming up after a scattershot first half and Dennis Johnson finding plenty of room for his biggest game of the year on the ground. Result: 29 straight Arkansas points just enough cushion to hold off the Rebels' late rally..
WHY ARKANSAS WON: Because the Rebels didn't run out of gas in the physical sense ... but they did in terms of their game-planning and innovation. Nutt's team burst out of the gate with plays designed to include any number of play-making weapons -- freshman receiver Nickolas Brassell foremost among them -- and sly misdirection that gave Mackey several easy throws. The junior former JUCO transfer responded by starting 8-of-9 and throwing the best pass of his career -- a beautiful lofted 31-yard throw to Donte Moncrief -- that gave the Rebels a 10-0 lead.
But as soon as Bobby Petrino got his team into halftime still in the game (thanks to a Johnson 53-yard touchdown run on 3rd-and-14, a major turning point), adjusted to shorten Wilson's frequent (and frequently unsuccessful) downfield throws, got Johnson going, and never looked back. Nutt and his staff deserve plaudits for their early-game approach, but once the game turned, they had no answers--as seen most clearly on a second down on their own 1-yard line, late in the third quarter, already down 24-17. With Mackey having already looked deep on first down and failed, the Rebels tried a simple sweep to the right for Jeff Scott, and the Hogs snowed it under for an easy safety. By the time Nutt and his staff reclaimed their offensive spark, it was too late.
WHEN ARKANSAS WON: The game looked well over at the 8:30 mark of the fourth quarter, with Arkansas taking over at their own 42, up 29-17, with all the game's momentum. But the Rebels forced a three-and-out, drove 80 yards for a touchdown on their ensuing possession, and then recovered an onsides kick to start at their own 43 with 1:23 in which to score the game-winning touchdown. But Mackey was sacked on first down, and threw an interception on second to end the game.
WHAT ARKANSAS WON: Not a lot of kind words from Petrino and their coaches after that start. But Johnson looked like he's ready to give the Hogs a legitimate ground game for the first time all season, and we doubt anyone in Fayetteville's going to turn down a W after staring at a 17-point hole on the road. (And that said comeback came against Houston Nutt? Well, then, all the better.)
WHAT OLE MISS LOST: the Rebels' 10th straight SEC game, a school record. It would be encouraging to stay as competitive as Ole Miss did against a top-10 team after the blowouts they've already endured this season ... except that that 17-point lead represented the kind of golden opportunity Nutt simply can't afford to blow if he's going to coach next season. His job remains on a knife edge.