Arkansas Sends Message to SEC with Back-to-Back Shutout Wins

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterNovember 23, 2014

USA Today

Do you hear that?

That's not the sound of Arkansas walking through the door. That's the sound of a door being kicked down, chipped and turned into mulch.

After going without SEC wins for more than two calendar years, Arkansas has announced its presence with authority in November. The Razorbacks beat LSU 17-0 in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated last week and followed it up with a 30-0 win over No. 8 Ole Miss on Saturday in Fayetteville.

Arkansas DE Trey Flowers
Arkansas DE Trey FlowersWesley Hitt/Getty Images

Much like last week, this week's stomping wasn't as close as the score indicated.

The Hogs defense throttled the high-octone Rebels offense to the tune of 316 yards, 63 rushing yards and just 4.45 yards per play. Ole Miss, a team that hasn't been able to run between the tackles all season long, was absolutely shut down by an Arkansas front seven that has become one of the most underrated units in the entire conference.

“It’s big time for us defensive players," defensive end Trey Flowers said in quotes emailed by Arkansas. "To put up those type of numbers and stop some pretty good teams from getting in the end zone, it's big time."

As Bo Mattingly of Sports Talk with Bo in Arkansas notes, first-year defensive coordinator Robb Smith deserves a ton of credit for this turnaround:

It was a message to the SEC West, the SEC and the nation that these Hogs have found their groove and will not be a pushover anymore.

This was coming all season long. 

From the moment the Razorbacks went into halftime in their season opener vs. Auburn tied, it was clear that this wasn't the same team that existed under former head coach John L. Smith in 2012 and last season—Bret Bielema's first in Fayetteville.

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema
Arkansas head coach Bret BielemaDanny Johnston/Associated Press

They were confident.

They were prepared.

They were on the brink of walking through the door during the first two months of the season, and instead they decided to kick it down the last two weeks.

Arkansas RB Alex Collins
Arkansas RB Alex CollinsUSA TODAY Sports

It took longer than Bielema imagined, but Arkansas evolved this year from a pushover to a potential power. Even when the Hogs lost this year, they made the opponent work. They're old-school in every sense of the term and have now learned a valuable lesson during the month of November: how to win.

Moving forward, what does it mean? It means that this team is going to be something to be reckoned with in 2015.

Arkansas' defense is loaded with young talent. Only one defender—Flowers—is a senior on the two-deep up front. The Razorbacks will also return four of five starters on the biggest offensive line in football (college or the NFL), quarterback Brandon Allen and talented running backs Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams.

Arkansas QB Brandon Allen (left) and head coach Bret Bielema
Arkansas QB Brandon Allen (left) and head coach Bret BielemaUSA TODAY Sports

This year's Hogs have already made a tremendous impact on the SEC West race, locking the door on Ole Miss' chances of representing the division in the SEC Championship Game for the first time ever. That will continue next season, and if the dominoes fall in the Hogs' favor, don't be surprised if they're in the SEC West title discussion in mid-November just like Ole Miss was this year.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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