One game rarely defines a season.
But I think the game Saturday between Arkansas and LSU in Little Rock will go a long way toward defining whether or not this season is viewed in the Ozarks as a successful one or a so-so one.
It’s a chance for the Hogs to win 10 games, which is never anything to sneeze at in this league.
Plus, they could really help their bowl outlook. A 10-2 Arkansas team would have an outside shot at an at-large berth in a BCS bowl if the right teams lose and would be a lock for either the Capital One or Cotton bowls.
“We are looking for 10 wins,” Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett said. “Obviously, we were looking for 12 coming into the season. But since that’s not possible, we’re focusing on getting to 10. Wherever they put us (in the bowls), that’s where we’ll play. This is the biggest game of the year this week.”
Arkansas’ résumé to this point is impressive. The Hogs (9-2, 5-2) own three wins over teams currently ranked in the top 25 of the BCS standings. Auburn leads the way in the SEC with four wins over top 25 teams in the BCS standings.
Arkansas could match that total Saturday with a win over LSU, a series that has delivered time and time again when it comes to fantastic finishes.
LSU won 33-30 in overtime last season. The Hogs went ahead with 1:18 to play in regulation on Mallett’s fourth-down touchdown pass, but the Tigers forced overtime thanks to Josh Jasper’s 41-yard field goal with four seconds left. In overtime, Jasper connected from 36 yards, and Alex Tejada missed from 36 yards.
In 2008, Arkansas won 31-30 when Casey Dick hit London Crawford on fourth down with a 24-yard touchdown pass with 21 seconds remaining.
The 2007 game may have been the wildest of all. Unranked Arkansas upset then No. 1-ranked LSU 50-48 in triple overtime in Tiger Stadium.
In fact, each of the last five games has been decided by five points or less.
As Mallett noted earlier this week, it’s a game that’s perennially been decided in the last few possessions of the fourth quarter.
For the Hogs, who had their sights set on an SEC championship when the season began, it’s a game that will also decide how this season will be remembered.