Like it is:

Obliteration of Tide always sweet for Hogs

By: Wally Hall
Published: Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Alabama quarterback John David Phillips (12) is up-ended by Arkansas defensive tackle Melvin Bradley during the third quarter of the Southeastern Conference game in Fayetteville, Ark., on Saturday, Sept. 26, 1998. Arkansas beat No. 22 Alabama 42-6. (AP Photo/Beau Rogers)
Alabama quarterback John David Phillips (12) is up-ended by Arkansas defensive tackle Melvin Bradley during the third quarter of the Southeastern Conference game in Fayetteville, Ark., on Saturday, Sept. 26, 1998. Arkansas beat No. 22 Alabama 42-6. (AP Photo/Beau Rogers)

In 1998, when Houston Nutt was in his first season as head football coach at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Alabama had begun its decade of darkness but was still the measuring stick.

Once the bell cow, always the bell cow in the SEC.

Which was why a mediocre Alabama team was ranked No. 22 on Sept. 26, 1998, when it came to Fayetteville. Both teams were undefeated and the game was picked up by ESPN2.

Nutt was hired after Danny Ford had gone 4-7 in back-to-back seasons. But in all fairness to Ford, he had done a crazy-good recruiting job.

The offensive linemen, led by Grant Garrett and Brandon Burlsworth, were more than just solid; they were fighters and winners.

Junior quarterback Clint Stoerner was about to make his mark, and running backs Madre Hill and Chrys Chukwuma were hard to handle.

The defense, which adopted the "Code Red" motto, was surprisingly good and would hold opponents to two touchdowns or less seven times that season. Guys like Kenoy Kennedy, Quinton Caver and Zac Painter were the spark plugs.

The Tide had running back Shaun Alexander, but on that day the Razorbacks made a workhorse look like the old gray mare as they held him to 48 yards on 21 carries.

Alabama had seven first downs and a total of 152 yards of offense in the game. Arkansas had 26 first downs, 206 yards rushing -- led by Hill with 120 on 20 carries -- and 239 yards passing.

Alabama took a 3-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Crimson Tide would get another field goal in the second quarter, but that sandwiched a 21-yard touchdown pass from Stoerner to wide receiver Michael Snowden. A 24-yard touchdown pass from Stoerner to tight end Joe Dean Davenport put the Hogs up 14-6 at halftime.

Stoerner hit Snowden for a 36-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, and the rout was on. In the final quarter, the Hogs got rushing touchdowns from Chukwuma, Hill and Rod Stinson to set the final score at 42-6.

It was a heady time in Fayetteville, and on that day Nutt won over a few of his skeptics.

After head-coaching stints at Murray State and Boise State, Nutt was hired over Tommy Tuberville, who had taken a troubled Ole Miss program -- which was under NCAA scholarship sanctions -- and turned it around. There were many who thought Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles had made a mistake.

Most of them swung, at least for a while, to the Nutt side when he led the Razorbacks to eight consecutive victories to open that season. The game that ended that streak, the gut-wrenching 28-24 loss to Tennessee -- when the Volunteers scored the winning touchdown after an Arkansas fumble -- is also on the list of top 25 games in the Silver Anniversary of the Hogs in the SEC.

The 1998 victory over Alabama came in at No. 16 because it was Arkansas' second consecutive victories over Alabama, and by the widest margin of victory any team had over the Crimson Tide since 1957, which happened to be the year Nutt was born.

The Hogs were actually in the midst of winning three of four against the Tide.

Mike Dubose, Bama's head coach, would beat the Razorbacks just once in his four years, which was in 1999 when the Tide won the SEC championship.

A year later, Alabama struggled to a 3-8 record and Dubose was fired. Then the shadows darkened with the hires of Dennis Franchione, Mike Price -- who had a cup of ill-fated coffee -- and Mike Shula.

The Razorbacks would finish the 1998 regular season 9-2 and go to the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla., where they fell to Michigan and a quarterback named Tom Brady 45-31.

Sports on 06/21/2017

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