Bret Bielema

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Texas A&M tops Arkansas in high-scoring overtime thriller

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There is one guarantee you can make every college football season. That is that Texas A&M and Arkansas are going to give you your money’s worth when they face off against each other in Arlington. The Razorbacks and Aggies played an overtime game for the third-straight year, and the result once again went in favor of Texas A&M (3-1, 1-0 SEC) in the highest-scoring game between the two schools in series history. The Aggies handed Arkansas (1-2, 0-1 SEC) a 50-43 loss, extended Texas A&M’s winning streak in the series to six.

The game may have been decided in overtime, but Arkansas pretty much deserved to lose the moment they allowed a kickoff to land in the hands of Christian Kirk with a little more than five minutes to play immediately after taking a 36-33 lead on a 44-yard touchdown pass from Allen to Jonathan Nance.

After Mond completed a touchdown pass to Kirk in the first possession of overtime, Armani Watts sealed the game for the Aggies with an interception in the end zone on a 3rd-and-8 play from the Texas A&M 12-yard line. Since joining the SEC, Texas A&M has not lost to Arkansas.

This was a win that was needed for Kevin Sumlin to some degree after a couple of not-so-inspiring victories following a collapse against UCLA. The Aggies are now 3-1 though and will have to find a way to build off this win moving forward. Meanwhile, Bret Bielema at Arkansas will start to hear some more rumblings from disgruntled fans after another loss to the Aggies.

Arkansas took a 21-7 lead in the second quarter before the Aggies started to chip away. Texas A&M managed to cut the Razorback lead to 21-17 prior to halftime, and they probably should have had the lead if not for a blown call by the sideline judge calling the play dead 10 yards shy of the end zone when the play should have continued. The Aggies ended up settling for a field goal a few plays later, but replays showed Kellen Mond clearly stayed in bounds on his run. The play was not reviewable by the instant replay officials because the play had been blown dead by the on-field official.

Mond passed for 216 yards and two scores and led all players with 109 rushing yards. Keith Ford added another 10-2 rushing yards and two touchdowns for the Aggies. Allen passed for 229 yards and two scores, while Cole Kelley stepped on the field for a short touchdown pass as well for Arkansas.

Arkansas will be home next week for a game against New Mexico State. The Razorbacks will play SEC opponents the rest of the season, including Alabama (Oct. 14) and Auburn (Oct. 21) in back-to-back weeks.

Texas A&M will also be home next week to continue SEC play. The Aggies host the South Carolina Gamecocks before preparing for a showdown with No. 1 Alabama on October 7.

Bret Bielema sent Arkansas punter home to celebrate Easter alone

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Arkansas linebacker Alexy Jean-Baptiste is going to miss some practice time. Jean-Baptiste went in for surgery last week to repair a broken foot.

According to Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema, the recovery time could be up to four months, which should mean he will be available for the start of the 2017 season in whatever capacity he would be in lin for.

“Probably looking at a 4-month recovery,” Bielema said. “He’s unfortunately out for a pretty significant amount of time.”

Arkansas punter Blake Johnson has also suffered an injury, and Bielema did not seem to be too pleased with how the injury occurred. That’s because it happened from outside of practice.

“So I removed him from the program for a little bit,” Bielema said. “Let him go home this weekend and celebrate Easter weekend by himself in his apartment. I’ll make a decision Monday if I let him back in.”

Well, that sounds ominous. But wait, there’s more.

“I just told him I didn’t wanna see him today,” Bielema said. “You know how you have children, right, I don’t have children yet but I assume there’s some point when you just don’t wanna see anybody. Just send them away. Send them in the other room. He’s in timeout. He’s in extreme timeout.”

That doesn’t sound great for Johnson, but maybe Bielema will cool off over the holiday weekend.

Arkansas DE Tevin Beanum retires, LB Khalia Hackett to transfer

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Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema announced a pair of departures from the Razorback program for 2017. Defensive end Tevin Beanum has chosen to step away from football and linebacker Khalia Hackett has decided to transfer to a new school to continue playing football.

Bielema did not confirm the details for why Beanum has stepped away from the sport but did suggest the now former defensive end may qualify for an NCAA hardship waiver. If so, then Beanum can remain on scholarship at Arkansas and continue his education without being concerned about expenses.

Beanum missed summer camp at Arkansas for undisclosed reasons before returning to the team for the 2016 season. Beanum started seven of 12 games for the Razorbacks. In February 2015, Beanum was arrested for suspicion of DWI, which led to Bielema going so far as to take his car keys away.

It is currently unknown where Hackett will move next, but Bielema says he will provide assistance in finding a new football home for the linebacker.

“We had a conversation yesterday,” Bielema said. “He’s moved on. I’ll try to help him find a position or team of interest.”

Hackett is the second Arkansas player to decide to transfer out of Arkansas this offseason. Running back Duwop Mitchell previously made his decision to transfer in December as a graduate transfer. Mitchell announced, via Twitter, he will be transferring to Rutgers, where he will be eligible to play right away.

Ew, Pig Sooie! Virginia Tech scores 35-unanswered points to win Belk Bowl, 35-24

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For one half of football, it appeared as though Arkansas (7-6) could do no wrong in the Belk Bowl against No. 22 Virginia Tech (10-4), but the Hokies roared back from a 24-0 halftime deficit with 35 unanswered points in the second half to capture a wild bowl victory. It may be a tad cliché, but this truly was a tale of two halves that showed why football games are 60 minutes long.

Bud Foster coached up his defense to tighten things up in the second half, and they responded with flying colors. The Hokies sacked Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen six times in the second half, with Mook Reynolds notching two. Reynolds and Tremaine Edmunds each recorded an interception as well to help turn the game around in Virginia Tech’s favorite. With the defense doing its part to prevent Arkansas from scoring again after taking a short-lived, yet commanding 24-0 lead, the Hokies offense had to do their part as well. And oh boy did they.

The Hokies scored five touchdowns in the second half, starting early in the second half after the defense forced an Arkansas turnover on the third play of the half. Jerod Evans completed 21-of-33 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns and he led the Hokies on the ground with 87 rushing yards and two more touchdowns. Travon McMillian had 34 key yards as well, including a six-yard scoring run one play after rumbling 21 yards for a big gain. McMillian’s touchdown run was likely the final nail in the coffin for the Razorbacks, who went from being down four points to down 11. Arkansas went three-and-out on their next drive and fumbled the football away on their next offensive series after that.

The play of the game may have been a one-handed touchdown snag by Sam Rogers to help cut the Razorbacks’ lead to 10 points.

The comeback from Virginia Tech goes down as the third-largest comeback in a bowl game over the last 10 seasons. Last year’s Alamo Bowl saw TCU dig its way out of a 31-point deficit against Oregon. Texas Tech also played its way back form a 31-point deficit in the 2006 Insight Bowl against Minnesota, going from trailing 38-7 to winning 44-41 in overtime.

The ACC’s impressive bowl season continues

With Virginia Tech’s victory over the Razorbacks, the ACC improved to 5-1 in the bowl season. No other conference has won more than four games so far in the bowl season. The ACC’s lone bowl loss so far was suffered by Pitt in the Pinstripe Bowl (the Panthers lost to Northwestern of the Big Ten). The ACC has winning records against the SEC (2-0) and Big 12 (1-0), is even with the Big Ten (1-1) and owns a victory over the AAC champion (Wake Forest beat Temple in the Military Bowl). The ACC is close to clinching a winning record this postseason with six postseason games to go (seven if Clemson advances to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game).

The SEC drops to 1-4 this bowl season after South Carolina and Arkansas each lost today. The SEC still has a very good chance to see Alabama win a national championship and there are still six additional games to be played to turn things around this bowl season, but this is a bit of a sloppy start to the bowl season for the SEC.

Looking ahead

So, where do we go from here? At Virginia Tech, the Hokies will go into the offseason very positive about the future of the program under the leadership of Justin Fuente. In Fuente’s first season on the job, Virginia Tech won 10 games to capture the ACC Coastal Division and gave Clemson a good battle in the ACC Championship Game, and it all ends with a victory over an SEC school in a bowl game. The 2017 season will commence in Landover, Maryland against former Big East rival West Virginia from the Big 12 on September 2, 2017. The Hokies will play an ACC schedule that includes a home game against Clemson in addition to North Carolina and Pittsburgh and road games against Miami and Georgia Tech. The Hokies should be one of the teams to watch in the ACC once again in 2017 as Fuente’s offense continues to come together in year two.

Arkansas will go back to the drawing board and contemplate just how this season went so up-and-down and ended the way it did. The Razorbacks will still be a team worth paying close attention to and not take for granted in 2017, and if they can find any positive consistency next fall they should be at least a mnild factor in how the SEC West plays out. They won’t be likely to de-throne Alabama, of course, but they can mess with teams like LSU, Texas A&M, and Auburn. Of course, Arkansas will only play Auburn at home, while Alabama and LSU will be played on the road and Texas A&M will be played in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Arkansas begisn the 2017 season at home against Florida A&M on September 2, 2017 in Little Rock, and the Razorbacks host TCU of the Big 12 on September 9, 2017 in Fayetteville.

No. 21 Auburn rushes for 543 yards in 56-3 win over No. 17 Arkansas

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No. 21 Auburn (5-2, 3-1 SEC) rushed for more yards against No. 17 Arkansas (5-3, 1-3 SEC) than any team has since before the turn of the century en route to a smashing 56-3 victory over the Razorbacks Saturday evening in Jordan Hare Stadium. When all was said and done, the Tigers racked up 543 rushing yards.

Kamryn Pettway led the ground attack with 192 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. Eli Stove had a 78-yard touchdown run to boost his 94-yard day and Stanton Truitt rushed for 78 yards and two touchdowns to add to Auburn’s wildly productive day on the ground. Quarterback Sean White was a part of the fun too, with 61 rushing yards and a score to go with his 77 passing yards and passing touchdown.

On the other side, Auburn’s defense never allowed Arkansas to get a running game going. The Razorbacks ran 31 running plays and managed just 25 rushing yards in the game. A combined loss of 14 yards were credited to Arkansas quarterbacks Austin Allen and Ty Storey. Allen was forced to leave the game in the first half due to an apparent knee injury but he returned after a brief absence. Rawleigh Williams III was the leading rusher for the Razorbacks with 22 yards on 13 carries.

Auburn also played a pretty clean game with just two penalties for 10 yards and no turnovers (Arkansas had two turnovers). The Razorbacks are going to have to think long and hard about this one, or simply put the game film in the trash and forget about it. Either way, there was no denying this was one of the worst losses Arkansas has experienced under Bret Bielema.

Arkansas will get a little extra time to prepare for their next game. The Razorbacks have a much-needed bye week coming up next weekend, giving them an extra week to prepare for a home game against Florida.

OK, so time to look forward for Auburn. Before you start looking to the end of the year with the Iron Bowl matchup with Alabama, Auburn has to go on the road next week to play Ole Miss. Yes, the Rebels may be a fringe top-25 team this season, but there is no question they can be a dangerous opponent. However, Auburn’s defense has been playing very well the past month and has now held each of their past four opponents to fewer than 15 points. Doing that against Ole Miss may be difficult, especially on the road, but Auburn is playing with confidence.