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Winner of three straight, Arkansas has momentum heading to LSU

Arkansas has rebounded from a 2-4 start and has its sights set on a strong finish this season. Matt Bush/USA TODAY Sports

Winning can be contagious.

Just look at this year's Arkansas team. After a 2-4 start, the Razorbacks won their third straight game at Ole Miss last Saturday, and now they are one win shy of becoming bowl-eligible for the second season in a row.

"It’s so much easier to continue to win than it is to break a losing streak," Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said Monday. "Because once you start to lose, it happens all around you. There’s a lot to be said for what the [players] are feeling right now, and hopefully the results of Saturday, the week before and the Auburn game carry forward."

But it wasn’t just that the Razorbacks beat Ole Miss. It was how they beat Ole Miss. A crazy lateral play to convert 4th-and-25 in overtime. Going for two to win the game ... twice. It was a game that had everything, and Arkansas came out on top, 53-52.

After the game, the locker room was live. Music was blaring and players were dancing. The plane ride home was "awesome" according to Bielema, and not because of anything to do with he and his wife, though that certainly made for an entertaining conclusion to his postgame news conference.

It was the players and how happy they were, how they relished in the victory. And that carried over to the next week.

"It’s been a little bit of [what] we’ve been doing, taking a day at a time whether it’s a practice or a game and making sure you prepare to the best of your abilities," Arkansas offensive lineman Sebastian Tretola said. "But at the same time, it’s got the guys feeling good.

"Obviously, that [win] was nuts. When something like that happens, you’ve got to move on to the next week and prepare, but it’s just crazy that that happened to you and your guys. We’re feeling great coming into this week."

This is a different Arkansas team than the one that lost to Toledo and Texas Tech early in the season. The Razorbacks got punched in the mouth, and after a little self-reflection during the bye week, they have responded, winning three straight.

They now believe they can beat anybody, and that includes this Saturday’s bout with No. 9 LSU, a team that is 48-5 in night games at home under Les Miles.

"I think every time we walk into the stadium, we’re going to walk in confidently," Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry said. "We’re not going in thinking we’re going to lose or that we’re just coming here to get a participation ribbon for playing them close. We want to walk in there knowing we can go in there and win."

LSU is on the opposite end of the spectrum heading into Saturday. The Tigers are coming off their first defeat of the season, a 30-16 loss to Alabama, which physically wore them down. You could see it in the way Derrick Henry ran late in the game. LSU scored with 9:18 left and never saw the ball again. The defense couldn’t get off the field.

Now it’s Arkansas’ turn. Why have the Razorbacks been so good down the stretch the past two seasons?

"A big thing is our style of play," Tretola said. "The way we play and how we play, the way we’re set up, when it gets later in the season and your body’s hurting and you’re beat up, we’re definitely not the team you want to see."

The SEC West might be out of reach. But like Tretola said, this Arkansas team is not one you want to see right now. It is playing as well as anybody in the conference.

And the razorbacks would love nothing more than another happy plane ride home Saturday.