Arkansas Football: 5 Unforgettable Moments from Razorbacks' 2013 Season
Well, 2013 is now officially over, and what a year it was for college football. From Auburn's miracle ending against Alabama to Nebraska's Hail Mary versus Northwestern, there were no shortage of great moments in another spectacular year on the gridiron.
However, 2013 wasn't great for all programs.
The Arkansas Razorbacks struggled all season long in head coach Bret Bielema's first year guiding the team, stumbling to a 3-9 (0-8 SEC) record. For the first time since joining the SEC, the Hogs failed to win a conference game and finished the year on a nine-game losing streak, also a first.
In all of the jumbled mess 2013 was for Arkansas, it might be tough to find moments that are worth remembering. But, even in a bad year, there are things that stand out among the rest.
Here, we take a look at the five most unforgettable moments, not all good, from the Razorbacks' season, leading up to the most memorable of 2013.
Bryan Heater is the featured columnist for Arkansas Razorbacks. Follow him on Twitter @BHeaterRivals.
5. Razorbacks Lose to Mississippi State in Overtime
The closest Arkansas came to winning an SEC game was against the Mississippi State Bulldogs on November 23.
After an early 10-0 lead, the Hogs allowed the Bulldogs to even the score heading into halftime. Both teams would score one touchdown in the second half to send the game into overtime and give Arkansas the opportunity to avoid not winning a game in SEC play.
The Razorbacks won the coin flip and elected to play defense. Anytime you go into overtime, winning the coin toss is big because it allows you to play defense first and know what your team has to do to win the game.
Things seemed to be in the Hogs' favor, but on the Bulldogs' first play, freshman quarterback Damian Williams scampered 25 yards for the score. The Arkansas offense, which struggled all year, couldn't muster up an answer, ultimately leading to another defeat, 24-17.
This was perhaps the most heartbreaking loss of the season. Arkansas had plenty of chances to win the game, but it couldn't capitalize on them. The loss also basically sealed a winless SEC campaign with a trip to LSU the following week.
Losing to Mississippi State in overtime isn't a good memory, but nonetheless, it sticks out as as one of the top five moments from 2013 because of how close Arkansas came to winning a conference game.
4. Jonathan Williams Dashes for a 75-Yard Touchdown Against Louisiana-Lafayette
Sophomore running back Jonathan Williams had a very good season, but he was overshadowed by the success of freshman Alex Collins.
He finished 2013 with 900 yards on 150 attempts and four touchdowns, as well as an impressive 6.0 yards-per-carry average. His best game came in the season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette.
Williams ran for 151 yards on 18 carries in game one, with half of those yards coming on a spectacular 75-yard touchdown run.
He took the handoff to the right side, and it looked like he was going to lose yards as a load of Louisiana-Lafayette defenders were in his path. However, Williams reversed field and used his speed to outrun defenders, who had angles on him, on his way to a 75-yard score.
The touchdown sealed the victory for the Razorbacks and turned out to be the best run of the year, qualifying as one of the best moments for 2013.
3. Alex Collins Runs for over 100 Yards in First Three Games as a Freshman
The best freshman running back in the country was Arkansas' own, Alex Collins.
The freshman sensation dazzled fans, coaches and analysts alike with his unique blend of speed, power and elusiveness. It didn't take long for the highly touted, 4-star recruit to show why he was rated so high.
Collins ran for over 100 yards in each of the first three games of his collegiate career, making him the first running back in SEC history to accomplish the feat, as written by CollegeFootballTalk.com's Chris Huston of NBC Sports. He ran for 131 yards in the Hogs' first game versus Louisiana-Lafayette, followed by 172 in Week 2 against Samford. He then made history in Week 3 against Southern Miss when he rushed for 115 yards
The accomplishment is even more impressive when you think about all the great running backs to have played in the SEC who couldn't do it themselves, such as Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson and former Hog Darren McFadden.
Any time you etch your name in the history books, especially in the SEC, it makes for a memorable moment, and Collins rushing for 100 yards in the first three games was one of the best of 2013.
2. Razorbacks Take LSU to the Brink in Season Finale
Coming into the final game of the year at LSU, most people gave Arkansas a very small chance to be in the contest, let alone win it. After all, the Razorbacks had failed to win a conference game in their previous seven tries and had been soundly beaten in three of their previous four SEC road games.
Apparently, it didn't matter to the Hogs what everyone else thought.
Though Arkansas lost, 31-27, it showed vast improvement from the team that got beat by a combined 104-7 on the road at Alabama and at home versus South Carolina.
Quarterback Brandon Allen, who was average at best for most of the year, played admirably (19-for-29, 178 yards and two touchdowns) and was efficient, while the defense made plays in crucial points of the game.
The Hogs outplayed the Tigers for the first three quarters, holding the lead at halftime and a 27-21 advantage entering the fourth quarter. However, like most bad teams do, Arkansas lost it in the final 15 minutes, giving up the final 10 points.
What makes this such a memorable moment for the program was how competitive it was in Death Valley, one of the toughest places to come away with a road victory. The Arkansas team that showed up in the season finale wasn't the mediocre version fans had seen most of the season.
The Hogs put up a fight, and both times they fell behind before the fourth quarter, they responded with touchdowns.
Their performance in the final game of the year on the road against one of the best programs in the country showed the strides the Razorbacks made from earlier in the year. It also gave hope to fans that 2014 will be much better.
Whatever you took away from the game, it was a moment that stuck out.
1. Alex Collins Surpasses the 1,000-Yard Mark
Collins was the best player on offense or defense for the Razorbacks, so it's no surprise two of the top five moments from 2013 are from him.
He came into the final game of the season at LSU needing just two yards to surpass the 1,000-yard mark for the year. He didn't have a great outing, rushing for just 28 yards on 11 carries, but it was enough to push him past the milestone.
Collins became just the 10th freshman in SEC history, and the second in program history, to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season. He finished with a total of 1,026 yards on 190 attempts and four touchdowns.
His season earned him a number of awards, including being named to the 2013 Sporting News Freshman All-American Team and the Associated Press' SEC Freshman of the year.
The only other Arkansas back to run for over 1,000 yards as a freshman was McFadden in 2005. If it weren't for Collins, 2013 might have been even worse. He is a game-changing player and is going to be a fixture in the Arkansas backfield for at least the next two years.
There weren't a ton of moments to choose from when picking the five most unforgettable moments of 2013, but of the ones that were unforgettable, Collins rushing for 1,000 yards in the season finale was the best.