Hogs embark on a stretch not seen in 98 years

Arkansas coach Sam Pittman is shown during a game against BYU on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas won’t play another game in its home stadium for 34 days.

BYU’s 38-31 victory over Arkansas on Saturday night was the Razorbacks’ last game in Fayetteville until Oct. 21, when they play Mississippi State.

Between now and then, Arkansas (2-1) will open SEC play with four games away from home — at No. 12 LSU this Saturday night, against Texas A&M in Arlington, Texas, at No. 15 Ole Miss and at No. 13 Alabama.

It’s Arkansas’ turn to be the home team in its neutral-site series against Texas A&M at AT&T Stadium, but in reality it’s another road trip for the Razorbacks.

This season marks the first time Arkansas has played its first four conference games away from home in 98 years.

The only other time it happened was in 1925, when the Razorbacks were in the Southwest Conference.

That season Arkansas’ first four SWC games were at Rice, against LSU in Shreveport, at SMU and at TCU.

LSU an SWC opponent? Yes.

Though LSU is a charter member of the SEC going back to 1933 and the Razorbacks didn’t join the conference until 1992, according to Arkansas’ media guide, LSU was officially recognized as an SWC game from 1925-29.

The 1925 Razorbacks lost at Rice 13-9, beat LSU 12-0, tied SMU 0-0 and lost at TCU 3-0. They beat Oklahoma State — also recognized as an SWC opponent that season — 24-2 at home.

Now Arkansas goes into arguably the toughest four-game stretch in program history to start conference play coming off a loss to BYU in which the Razorbacks couldn’t hold leads of 14-0 and 31-21 before an announced crowd of 74,821 — their eighth largest at home.

“It’s hard to lose anytime, because the crowd was so great, the Hog walk was so great, loud,” Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman said. “We disappointed the home fans.

“They’re all hard to lose, but I don’t really look at it as a four-game stretch on the road and all of that.”

LSU (2-1, 1-0) opened SEC play with a 41-14 victory at Mississippi State.

“LSU, as we all saw, played really well, and we’ve got our work cut out for us,” Pittman said. “We’ll be ready to play when we go down there, but LSU is the next one at night, and obviously it’s hard to go into Baton Rouge.”

Sophomore linebacker Chris Paul said the Razorbacks have to take the BYU loss as a learning experience, but not dwell on it.

“We take the loss and move on,” Paul said. “We didn’t play our brand, but we’re on to LSU and that’s our top priority now. We need to get ready for that this Saturday in Baton Rouge.”

Junior running back AJ Green, who rushed 9 times for 86 yards and 2 touchdowns making his second consecutive start for injured Raheim Sanders, said the Razorbacks made too many mistakes against BYU.

Arkansas was penalized 14 times for 125 yards and had its first two turnovers of the season. The Razorbacks allowed a 46-yard kickoff return, Max Fletcher shanked a 10-yard punt and had another go out of bounds for 28 yards, and Cam Little missed a 49-yard field goal attempt.

“Those are things we’re going to get to fixing as soon as we get out of here,” Green said, speaking in the post-game press conference. “These next few games are going to be tough as well, but we’re not going to make those same mistakes.

“We can still make it a good game for the next four games that we have.”

Junior defensive end Landon Jackson, a team captain who played at LSU in 2021, said the Razorbacks are maintaining a positive attitude.

“We can’t let this affect the rest of our season,” Jackson said. “We’ve got to bounce back. One game doesn’t define the SEC.

“We go into Death Valley next week to play a really solid LSU team. We’ve got to have a great week of practice and bounce back.”

Pittman said a positive from the BYU game was the Razorbacks’ effort level.

“We played hard, but we just didn’t play smart,” Pittman said. “So we’ve got to do a better job of playing smart. We’ve got to do a better job of holding on to the football.

“There were a few uncharacteristic things that went on, and it’s my responsibility to get them fixed.”