Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a member and past president of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year 10 times and has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
Like It Is:
For Razorbacks, how big a bowl the question
Arkansas players take the field prior to a game against Kansas State at the Liberty Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016, in Memphis, Tenn.
When Arkansas scored 21 unanswered points in the second half, you knew it was over.
Then, and only then, did it feel safe to start thinking ahead.
On those three drives, the Razorbacks had 242 yards and ran more than 12 minutes off the clock.
If not for a surprisingly slow start, it might have been a 53-20 game, but the Hogs overcame their mistakes, got back in rhythm and pulled out a 42-27 road win over Auburn in front of an announced crowd of 83,792.
Admittedly this is premature, partly because the Razorbacks don’t have a gimme in their four final games, but it is November and bowl games are being discussed.
Currently, 36 teams are bowl eligible and there are 46 vacancies to fill. Arkansas needs just one win to be in postseason play.
A 6-6 Razorbacks team would be appealing to both the Liberty Bowl and the Texas Bowl.
For the fans, a game in Memphis would be best, but for recruiting exposure the Hogs should never turn down a game in Texas, which is one of, if not the, most fertile states for producing college football players.
The Houston area is rich with SEC quality players.
Already some of the ratings folks are projecting bowls, and while most of these folks made their reputation predicting the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament they are pretty good at football too.
Jerry Palm on CBSsports.com has every SEC team but Texas A&M and Vanderbilt in a bowl. Even if the Aggies got eligible, it is unsure who would invite them after they bowed out of the Gator Bowl last year.
The claim was they didn’t have enough healthy players on a team that has 85 scholarship players and dozens of walk-ons, and the school prides itself as being known for its 12th Man.
Palm has Arkansas going to the Gator this year, a bit ironic since the Razorbacks had a choice last year between that game and the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl, which is now the ReliaQuest Bowl.
The Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., is a 2:30 p.m. game on Dec. 30, and their opponent would be Notre Dame, who the Hogs are scheduled to host Sept. 27, 2025, and will return the game in 2028.
To get to the Gator, the Razorbacks would probably need to win at least two and possible three of their last games.
Playing what if, as in what if the Razorbacks have a November to remember and run the table?
A 9-3 Arkansas might be of interest to the Cotton Bowl, which has two at-large berths.
Palm currently has the bowl in Arlington filled with Oregon and Cincinnati, which the Razorbacks beat in the season opener.
A second trip to Jerry’s World (AT&T Stadium) may not sound as appealing as it should, but it would be like a trip down memory lane when the Cotton Bowl always included a Southwest Conference team and someone else, and definitely not the Aggies this season.
Of course, just being in the conversation for a second consecutive season — and it would have been a third if not for covid — is a good thing for the program.
It gives extra practices that are generally used to get snaps for true freshmen who have redshirted but also adds to the recruiting resume.
Would you rather be Sam Pittman telling recruits the Hog are going to a second consecutive bowl game or Jimbo Fisher explaining to recruits why they haven’t been to a bowl in two years?
To stay in the speculation about bowls, the Hogs need to win. The more they win, the better the bowl will be, but in the last two games, it appears everyone is on the same page.
They know they put up a lot of points to win.
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