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Sunday, November 27, 2022

Hogs Return to Auburn and Site of Controversial Incomplete Pass Call in 2020

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Arkansas takes the trip to the plains of Alabama on Saturday to take on the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The confines of Jordan-Hare was not friendly to the Hogs on their last trip in 2020 when the game was won in the final seconds by Auburn in part due to a controversial officiating call that went against Arkansas.

In the final seconds of the game, Auburn quarterback Bo Nix attempted to kill the clock on a final desperation drive with Arkansas leading 28-27. Nix intended to spike the ball to kill the clock, but fumbled the snap from center. Instead of the play being ruled a fumble, the officiating crew ruled the botched-snap from center as an incomplete pass. After the game, Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said, “The ball went backward six yards. I saw a fumble and a spike that went backward six yards. They blew the whistle before we recovered the ball so they couldn’t review it. That is the explanation that I got.” The play resulted in an intentional grounding call by the officials and also resulted in a ten second run-off the clock. With less than 20 seconds remaining in the game, Auburn was able to kick a field goal to win the game.

After the game, the Southeastern Conference issued a statement in part that read, “…During the subsequent replay review, there is conclusive video evidence that the pass was backwards. However, because the recovery of the football was not clearly made in the immediate continuing football action, the ruling on the field was determined to stand.” I am not sure that I understand the SEC’s statement, but it is there for anyone who cares to look it up.

That is all ancient history now and has no bearing on Saturday’s game at Auburn, but in the minds of Arkansas fans, it is not forgotten. For the Razorbacks, the mission is to win a critical conference road game and start a string of potential victories that could increase the quality of bowl bids that may come their way in December. Auburn has struggled this year, but they are a dangerous team that can certainly win at home for their embattled coach, Bryan Harsin. Hogs quarterback K. J. Jefferson was impressive at BYU in his return, having a career- best day against the Cougars, and he will need another good outing at Auburn.

WESTERN DIVISION

Conference Overall

Alabama 4-1 7-1

LSU 4-1 6-2

Ole Miss 3-1 7-1

Miss State 2-3 5-3

Arkansas 1-3 4-3

Auburn 1-3 3-4

Texas A&M 1-3 3-4

The Hogs are coming off of a bye week and an impressive non-conference road win at Brigham Young. Arkansas has had time to rest, heal from mid-season injuries, and perhaps make some defensive adjustments, particularly in the secondary where the Hogs have struggled all year. Auburn is embroiled in a coaching controversy as to perhaps not if, but when Harsin will be replaced. Saturday’s game could be significant for the Auburn coach, regardless of its outcome.

Here are some game notes on Arkansas’s game at Auburn as provided by the University of Arkansas:

AUBURN TIGERS (3-4, 1-3 SEC)
AP/Coaches Poll: NR/NR
Head Coach: Bryan Harsin (Boise State, ‘00)
Career Record: 85-35 (10th season)
Record at Auburn: 9-11 (2nd season)

ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS (4-3, 1-3 SEC)
AP/Coaches Poll: RV/RV
Head Coach: Sam Pittman (Pittsburg State [Kan.], ‘86)
Career Record: 16-14 (3rd season)
Record at Arkansas: Same


• Fresh off the bye week, Arkansas will conclude its three-game road swing against SEC West foe Auburn. Kickoff between the Hogs and Tigers is set for 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, in Auburn, Ala., at Jordan-Hare Stadium on SEC Network.


• Last time out, Arkansas went on the road to take down FBS Independent BYU, 52-35, with an explosive offensive ffort. It was the first time the Razorbacks had scored 50+ points on the road against a non-conference foe since 1910.


• With the win, Sam Pittman became the first Arkansas head coach to emerge victorious in each of his first eight games against non-conference opponents. He surpassed legendary former Arkansas head coach Lou Holtz, who won each of his first seven games against non-conference foes.


• QB KJ Jefferson continues to wreak havoc on opposing defenses through the air and on the ground. Jefferson has completed 109-of-161 passes (67.7%) for 1,463 yards and 14 touchdowns with one interception while rushing for 344 yards and four scores in six games. Despite missing one
contest, Jefferson is one of four SEC quarterbacks to throw for over 1,400 yards and run for over 300 yards this season.

• RB Raheim ‘Rocket’ Sanders is the Hogs’ leading ball carrier through seven games, totaling 870 yards on 140 carries (6.2 avg.) with seven scores on the ground. He leads the SEC in both rushing yards (870) and rushing yards per game (124.3), and he ranks second in all-purpose yards per
game (151.3) this season. Sanders, who is responsible for five of Arkansas’ program-record eight consecutive 100-yard rushing games, has also caught 15 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown. He is currently the only FBS player with 800+ rushing yards and 100+ receiving yards this year.


• WR Jadon Haselwood leads Arkansas’ receiving corps with a team-high 31 catches for 406 yards (13.1 avg.) and a pair of touchdowns. A transfer from Oklahoma, Haselwood has caught three or more passes in each of his first seven games as a Hog and has tallied at least one catch in 19
straight games dating back to the start of the 2021 season.


• LB Drew Sanders has emerged as one of the top defensive playmakers in college football, racking up 63 total tackles with a team-leading 7.5 tackles for loss and a team-high 6.5 sacks through seven games. Sanders, who leads the SEC and is tied for 10th nationally in sacks, has four double-digit tackle games this season, most among all Hog defenders.

So, Hogs fans, get up early to catch this game on T.V. on Saturday, and perhaps this year the game will not come down to another controversial call.

Note to Our Readers: Portions of this story were sourced directly from the University of Arkansas Office of Communications, Kyle Parkinson. SEC Western Division standings provided by the Southeastern Conference.

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Jim Best
Jim Best is a man of many talents. His storied career in Arkansas education led him to a new passion, and hidden gifts in sports journalism.
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