According to Bret Bielema, The Road to an SEC Championship Goes Through Alabama

Oct 11, 2014; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Trey DePriest (33) tackles Arkansas Razorbacks fullback Kody Walker (24) causing a fumble during the first half of a game at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 11, 2014; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Trey DePriest (33) tackles Arkansas Razorbacks fullback Kody Walker (24) causing a fumble during the first half of a game at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s been ten years since the Arkansas Razorbacks defeated Alabama. Will we ever win a championship if we don’t take down the Crimson Tide?

2006. What does that mean to you?

To the most intense and sentimental Hog fans, the year 2006 marks the last time we defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide. In an OT thriller, the talents of Darren McFadden and mistalents of Alabama Kicker Leigh Tiffin led the way to a Razorback 24-23 victory. That same season the Hogs went on to compete for a SEC championship and in a bowl game versus then Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema. Since then, Arkansas has not competed for a SEC championship, has not beaten Alabama, and now has Bret Bielema as their head coach. My how times have changed…

But let’s not stray away from the one big fact: we haven’t beaten the Crimson Tide in ten years.

A decade, Hoggians.

Power in college football is based off of numbers and streaks. Alabama’s ten-year streak only exemplifies their reign as football’s powerhouse. Do you realize how long of a span that is? In the time since we’ve beaten Bama, Barack Obama has nearly served two full terms, ten awful American Idols have been chosen, and oh yeah, ALABAMA HAS WON FOUR NATIONAL TITLES. Since 2000, we have gone 4-12 against the Crimson Tide. That means for every time we beat them this century, they gained a national title. So big whoop for us.

Needless to say, the longing for me and other Razorback fans to watch a beatdown on Nick Saban’s dynasty would make for a worthy season.

It’s not only the fans and the players who want the sweet smell of victory over Tuscaloosa’s Tide, it’s head honcho Bret Bielema himself. At a banquet in Mobile, Bielema told reporters, “I know this: we won’t win a championship until we beat Alabama. So we’ve got to beat them.”

Bielema speaks the truth on this one. With the SEC (especially in the West) so tightly knit and competitive, having just one win less than another team IS the difference maker. You may be thinking ‘well of course you think that, it’s how college football works.’ Well no, it’s actually not all the time. Look at the SEC East for example. Last season, Florida was the SEC East winner from day one it seemed like. While in the West we had Ole Miss and Alabama (and I guess the really weird algorithm that put Arkansas in first place) competing until the final weeks to earn their spot in Atlanta.

But why Alabama? Is it necessary to focus on one opponent?

Well, yes. It’s a weird thing to say, but it’s true. Alabama is not going to stop winning until they start losing. They are a team who went undefeated a couple of times just in recent history. The past two years, all they’ve had to show in their regular season loss column is Ole Miss, and even those were close games.

I get where Bielema is coming from. There are the other teams in the SEC West (LSU, Ole Miss, M-State) who we can easily compete with every year. But a fierce empire that is this era’s Alabama Crimson Tide is such a powerhouse that beating them gives you the upper edge. Even a year in which we go 7-1 in SEC play could mean not getting to that conference championship if that one loss is to Alabama. It’s happened. It will happen again. If Alabama continues to stay on top of the competition every single year and we still don’t beat them, we can kind of say bye to a national championship.

Everything gets so frustrating too when you look at some of the recent games we’ve had against Bama. Take two years ago for example. In 2014, we had that game in the palm of our hands. Kody Walker fumbled a ball walking into the endzone and forced a touchback. Finally, after we scored a touchdown in the second quarter, our extra point got blocked. Those two things came back to haunt us and we lost 14-13. We did everything 99.9% right, yet the 0.1% lost us the game. After the game, we looked at it all as a moral victory after Bama beat us 52-0 two seasons in a row, but the bitterness of the little-things-gone-wrong haunt me to this day.

But was it more heartbreaking than the 2007 loss? In case this game slipped your mind, or you’ve gone to hypnotherapy since, let me remind you. Alabama took an early 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Through the next two quarters, the Hogs mounted a comeback and with eight minutes left in the game, Arkansas had a 38-31 lead. But even all that momentum wasn’t enough. Alabama mounted a comeback of their own. They made a field goal, making the game 38-34. Then with EIGHT SECONDS LEFT that jerk John Parker Wilson threw a touchdown to win the game.

There’s your two examples of pure Nick Saban evil dark wizardry. I could mention last years game where we actually had the lead at halftime, but I never felt like we had control of that game.

Point is, the heartbreak and madness that Razorback fans endure through games against Alabama need to stop. If we ever want a chance at competing for titles, we need to step through the Crimson Tide.

must read: Razorbacks Cancel Texas Satellite Camp

Can it happen this year? I don’t know. The better part of me wants to think we will compete with them again. You can never have confidence when facing Saban and his DEW. But one thing I do know is that all the fans in DWR that night won’t forget what happened last time Alabama traveled to Fayetteville.

In any case, I’m excited to play Bama again and to see what this whole season brings.

Woo Pig, and rant over.