Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 11/4/12
Arkansas used good defense and great performances from senior receiver Cobi Hamilton and senior running back Dennis Johnson to squeeze past Conference USA member Tulsa 19-15 for homecoming in Fayetteville Saturday.The victory dropped the Golden Hurricane to 7-2 for the season and kept Arkansas’ dim hopes for a post-season bowl berth flickering for the moment. The Razorbacks are now 4-5 overall and 2-3 in the SEC.They must win two of their next three games to get to six wins and become bowl eligible. The Hogs’ remaining schedule shows games at South Carolina (7-2, 5-2), at faltering Mississippi State (7-2, 3-2) and at home against LSU (7-2, 3-2) the Friday after Thanksgiving. Winning at least two of those games seems very unlikely at best.Senior quarterback Tyler Wilson continued his pedestrian play of late against Tulsa. He hit 21 of 31 passes for 272 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. His touchdown to interception ratio for the season dropped to 16-8, not a great indicator for post-season honors or the NFL after Wilson had 24 TDs and only 6 interceptions in 2011.As tough as any quarterback I’ve ever seen, Wilson appears to be getting shell-shocked after being hit hard so many times this season. He keeps coming back for more punishment, but he’s throwing off his back foot more frequently every game. That tells me he’s losing focus.Fortunately for the Razorbacks, their two most consistent offensive performers came through in the clutch again Saturday. Johnson rushed 22 times for 109 yards and two touchdowns. The stocky, bullish Johnson also caught 3 passes for another 43 yards. Johnson now has 598 yards rushing for the season.Hamilton set a school record with 69 receptions for the season after hauling in 11 passes for 177 yards against the Golden Hurricane. The sure-handed, 6-3 playmaker broke Jarius Wright’s single-season record of 66 receptions that stood for less than a season. Hamilton now has 1,077 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2012.The story of the day may have been Arkansas’ defense, however. The much-maligned Razorbacks defenders held Tulsa to just over 100 yards rushing. The Golden Hurricane came into the game averaging almost 250 yards rushing.Junior defensive end Chris Smith stepped up big by leading the team with 8 total tackles, knocking two passes down and ending Tulsa’s hopes by sacking quarterback Cody Green and forcing a fumble late in the game. The loose ball was recovered by Hogs tackle Byran Jones.Around the SEC and Nation Alabama got outplayed in the second half by LSU, but pulled out a 21-17 victory with a historic last-ditch drive to earn a rare win at the Tigers’ home stadium, known as  Death Valley. That was only the second home night loss during the Les Miles era at LSU.Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron turned a mediocre night into magic on the final drive by completing 4 of 5 passes and moving the Tide 72 yards for the game-clinching score. On the final play of the drive, LSU gambled with a blitz and McCarron made them pay. He dropped a short screen pass to freshman running back TJ Yeldon, who weaved his way through the LSU defense for 28 yards and a score that kept the ‘Bama national title hopes alive.Led by a surprisingly effective performance from quarterback Zack Mettenberger, LSU outgained Alabama 435 total yards to 331, had four more first downs, and had possession of the ball for almost 19 more minutes than the Tide. Alabama also lost 2 fumbles to none for the Tigers. Of course, the only stat that really counts is the final score. Great teams find a way to win, even when they have a bad night.The Crimson Tide host Texas A&M next Saturday. The Aggies look like they might have the game to give the Tide another run for their money. Freshman sensation quarterback Johnny Manziel led the Aggies to a 38-13 defeat of previously once-beaten Mississippi State in Starkville. Manziel hit 30 of 36 passes for 311 yards against a pretty good Bulldog defense and added 129 yards and 2 TDs on the ground. The Aggies will travel to Tuscaloosa with a 7-2 overall and 4-2 SEC record.Georgia overcame a slow start to pound Ole Miss 37-10 behind Aaron Murray’s 384 passing yards and freshman tailback Todd Gurley’s 117 rushing yards. The sixth-ranked Bulldogs are 8-1 overall and 6-1 in the SEC. They need only a victory over struggling Auburn next week to clinch the SEC East title and a berth in the SEC title game.Besides Alabama, four teams remain unbeaten after week 10 of College Football 2012: Kansas State, Oregon, Notre Dame and Louisville. Assuming Alabama wins out, if more than one of those teams also finishes undefeated, there will be a big fuss over who gets to play in the national title game in Miami January 7.Current second-ranked Kansas State whipped Oklahoma State 44-30 Saturday but quarterback Collin Klein left the game in the third quarter with what was reported to be an arm injury. The Wildcats play at TCU (6-3) next week and will be hard pressed to win on the road in Fort Worth if Klein isn’t healthy. They finish the year with a game at Baylor (4-4) and at home against Texas (7-2), a surprise winner over Texas Tech Saturday.Oregon proved they may actually be the second best team in the country by running up 62 points and 730 total yards on Southern Cal in a 62-51 victory. Running back Kenjon Barner blitzed the Trojan defense for 321 rushing yards and five touchdowns.What makes the Ducks just a pretender to the national throne is the 484 passing yards and 51 points they surrendered to Southern Cal. The Ducks still have to beat Cal (3-7), Stanford (7-2) and arch-rival Oregon State (6-1) to keep their hopes of playing for all the marbles alive.Notre Dame needed a huge comeback and three overtimes to defeat lowly Pitt 29-26 at home Saturday. The loss dropped the Panthers to 4-5 on the season. Even if the Irish win out, their strength of schedule for the BCS will not be helped much by wins in the next two weeks over Boston College (2-7) and Wake Forest (5-4).Notre Dame will have to hope season-ending opponent Southern Cal (6-3) doesn’t lose another game before meeting the Irish in Los Angeles. Even if they beat the Trojans, the Irish will most likely need for at least two of the current top three teams to lose to have any chance of sneaking into the title game.(Side note: I really don’t like two coaches—Steve Spurrier and Lane Kiffin—okay, Bobby Petrino makes three. Spurrier showed how much he lacks class by making inappropriate remarks about Clemson coach Dabo Swinney at a pep rally held this past week in support of injured running back Marcus Lattimore. A coach with class would have just thanked Swinney for saying nice things about Lattimore, who is a great football player and fine young man. Of course, that would have never dawned on a jerk like Spurrier. Kiffin is just as bad for a number of reasons. I just like to gloat that his team, which was picked by many to make a run at the national championship, has lost 3 games already. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving dirtbag.)Finally, we have to start talking about undefeated Louisville. The Cardinals don’t really deserve to be talked about in the national title picture, but you can’t ignore the fact that third-year head coach Charlie Strong has them playing very well in a weak Big East conference. Strong has earned consideration for the Arkansas head coaching job after this season, but I don’t know if Hogs AD Jeff Long would be able to pry him away from Louisville if he comes up number one on the list.Louisville will end the season undefeated if they can get past Syracuse (4-5), UConn (3-6) and Rutgers (7-1). However, a weak overall schedule will keep them from playing in the title game no matter how the rest of the teams fare in the final weeks of the season.
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