Arkansas Football: Hogs escape final chapter of Petrino saga

Arkansas football needed a furious 4th quarter comeback to elude an upset attempt from Bobby Petrino and Missouri State. The Hogs outscored the Bears 21-3 in the final frame on the way to a 38-27 victory, improving to 3-0 on the season.

All I can say is, “Whewwwwwwwwwwwwwww.”

Arkansas football used a late-game surge to escape with a win against Missouri State on Saturday.

We’ve all likely had some version of the following fantasy: We encounter an old flame in public and show them that we’re much better off now.  We arrive with our new significant other, better-looking and better for us, hanging on our arm. Our ex sees just how well we have exorcised their demons.

Arkansas football was in that exact scenario on Saturday evening, but like any kind of self-work, this was ugly and difficult at times. The way Jason Shelley shredded our secondary for the better part of three quarters, some folks were on the verge of publicly professing that they still loved Petrino and would do anything to have him back.

It was grim.

After a 10-play, 71-yard drive, Missouri State kicked a field goal to take a 27-17 lead early in the 4th quarter. Arkansas football was on the brink of joining Michigan as the only AP Top-Ten ranked team to lose to an FCS program.

Then, KJ Jefferson underhand tossed a shovel pass to Rocket Sanders. Sanders flipped on the afterburners to go 73 yards for a touchdown to bring Razorback Stadium back to life. Four plays later, Bryce Stephens returned a punt 82 yards for another score to put Arkansas football in front for the first time all day. Jefferson would punch in another touchdown for prosperity with 1:39 to play.

Sanders’s touchdown also gave the defense a spark. The Hogs sacked Shelley four times after that score.

But none of those moments, neither the touchdowns nor the sacks, were when Arkansas football showed they were truly over their ex.

Sam Pittman walked across the field to meet Petrino halfway as the clock wound to zero. They had the typically cordial handshake before Pittman got interviewed by Tara Talmadge. In that interview, Pittman admitted that he was outcoached for a large percentage of that game. He expressed gratitude for his players doing enough to squeak out the win.

Pittman’s humility–THAT was the moment Hog fans should realize they are better off. Petrino’s entire downfall with the Razorbacks was rooted in his hubris. He saw himself as an untouchable force bigger than the program, and Arkansas football fans had to pay the price of a decade of mediocre to downright terrible football.

Like any rough breakup, though, we learned a lot about ourselves in the process. At the end of the day, with Pittman at the helm, Arkansas football is in a much better place.

Pittman is building a stronger foundation here because he is a better person. That stronger foundation should lead to more sustained success than Mr. Motorcycle’s four-year run in Fayetteville. Time to officially close the book on Petrino’s tenure at Arkansas.

Know this, Arkansas football fans: We won the break-up!