November 21st, 2010 12:20 PM║ Posted By: MrSEC.com ║ Permalink
Tags: Matt Jones, Mississippi State, SEC, STARKVILLE
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STARKVILLE, Miss. - For the first time in a while, Arkansas is a good road team.
The Razorbacks overcame the toughest environment they have faced all season Saturday, holding off Mississippi State for a 38-31 win in double overtime. Arkansas finishes the regular season 3-1 on the road and 4-1 in games played outside the state.
That’s quite an accomplishment for any team, but more so for the Razorbacks, who were unless on the road last season. Coming into 2010, Arkansas had lost seven consecutive road games.
“There’s no magic formula,” Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette said. “You’ve just got to be tough enough to play your game and finish games in the clutch. On the road you’re not going to blow everybody out. We played a perfect game at South Carolina and took care of them, but every road game is tough.
“Last year we were kind of snake bit on the road. This year we’re a totally different team and have great leadership.”
Arkansas couldn’t finish the close games last year, falling 23-20 to Florida and losing 33-30 to LSU in an overtime contest.
But the Razorbacks have been hard to stop in the clutch this year. Ryan Mallett’s touchdown pass to Greg Childs with 14 seconds left gave the Hogs a win at Georgia early in the season and Arkansas looked the better team through the final quarter and overtime Saturday in Starkville.
Labeled as a finesse team at times in 2009, the Razorbacks’ physicality showed against the Bulldogs.
“It was a tough, mean, physical SEC football game,” Bequette said. “We came out on top and that just shows close we are and how physical we are.”
Though its much smaller than most of its SEC brethren, Mississippi State’s Davis Wade Stadium more than held its own. An announced crowd of 56,404 fans – the fourth largest in school history – squeezed their way in Saturday, ringing their cowbells to ear-splitting decibels at times.
It was a far cry from the last time the Razorbacks traveled here two years ago and players noticed.
“They were intense; you’ve got to hand it to the Starkville crowd,” Bequette said. “There are a lot of great road environments and this is one of the best. It was nasty, but it was fun.”
Arkansas brings its own bell on road games and players are encouraged to ring it when they have their best performance to date. Accompanied by the sound of Hog calls from the thousands of Razorbacks fans in attendance, it was the bell ringing in the end.
“We wanted to let them know how our bell sounded,” Mallett said. “It was a little bit louder.”
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