Hog calls:

Hogs don't want to remember today

By: Nate Allen
Published: Saturday, September 30, 2017
Arkansas offensive line coach Kurt Anderson, left, and head coach Bret Bielema talk with players prior to a game against TCU on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas offensive line coach Kurt Anderson, left, and head coach Bret Bielema talk with players prior to a game against TCU on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- If the Arkansas Razorbacks make today's game forgettable, then Coach Bret Bielema's team perhaps will start something to remember.

If today's game becomes one to remember, then it will be one Bielema will yearn to forget.

That's football life at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville when allegedly little games become big because the Razorbacks lose them.

At 11 a.m. today at Reynolds Razorback Stadium on the SEC Network, the 1-2 Razorbacks play the 2-2 New Mexico State Aggies of the Sun Belt Conference.

Followers of the Power 5 conferences, which include and are often led by the SEC, regard leagues such as the Sun Belt as midmajors. Teams from the Sun Belt and similarly alleged midmajors such as the MAC (Mid-American Conference) -- plus those from the division below called the Football Championship Subdivision -- tend to be scheduled as breathers by the Power 5 leagues leading the elite Football Bowl Subdivision.

Generally, the Power 5 schools pay the midmajors and the FCS teams a nice guarantee to come play them for a nonconference home game. Presumably, that's more winnable for the host than adding another Power 5 opponent to its conference foes and a Power 5 team or two in the nonconference schedule.

Win the game with a decent figure of fans in the stands and the Power 5 administrations are happy. Naturally, they are happier if the game is won handily.

Even the narrow escapes -- like 30-27 over Northern Illinois in 1994, 24-17 over Louisiana-Lafayette in 2002 and 28-27 over Louisiana-Monroe in 2008 -- get forgiven and forgotten.

Lose them, and they live in infamy.

"As the Crowe flies," became the remembrance of Arkansas opening the 1992 season in Fayetteville losing 10-3 to The Citadel. Arkansas Coach Jack Crowe was fired the very next day.

Interim coach John L. Smith became the lamest of lame ducks in the 2012 season's second game when his prohibitively favored and ranked nationally No. 18 Razorbacks lost 34-31 in overtime to Louisiana-Monroe in Little Rock.

Bielema needed a 7-2 finish to his 8-5 2015 season to get a reprieve for his then losing 16-12 in Little Rock to Toledo of the MAC in the season's second game. It also probably helped that Toledo finished 10-2.

But now that it's perceived Bielema sits upon a hot seat, that Toledo game seems increasingly recalled by some as more Arkansas' fault than Toledo's prowess.

Ending 2016 at 7-6 by blowing big halftime leads in losses to Missouri and Virginia Tech, coupled with this season's 1-2 start, has made many Arkansans restless about Bielema and Athletic Director Jeff Long.

Beating the 17-point underdog New Mexico State Aggies likely won't significantly quiet the discontent.

But losing would foment it significantly.

These Razorbacks need a game for their fans to forget.

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