There are just three weeks until college football season kicks off. One of the interesting debates in the country is which team will get shocked in the first week or two. It happens every year, and with the recent news on autonomy arriving for the Big 5 conferences, it’s important to remember that the teams outside of the Big 5 can still bring it when given the opportunity.
Our Sun Belt preview reminded me of the 2012 season, when one of the “little guys” stepped up and won a game that the experts thought it had no chance of winning.
After leading the Arkansas Razorbacks to an impressive 21-5 record in 2010 and 2011, Bobby Petrino couldn’t avoid himself. His indiscretions led to his termination, which subsequently left the Razorbacks in a strange position. Could they maintain what Petrino had built at Arkansas or would it come tumbling down without him?
After winning their first game 49-24 against Jacksonville State, the Razorbacks faced a Louisiana-Monroe team that was coming off a 4-8 season in 2011 and had yet to play a game. Vegas set the line for this game in favor of Arkansas at 28.5, and the line actually peaked at 31 points.
Led by quarterback Kolton Browning, ULM jumped out to a 7-0 lead but Arkansas quickly seized control and built a 21-point lead midway through the third quarter. Arkansas looked like it would put it in cruise control, but as Lee Corso says… not so fast, my friend.
ULM running back Jyruss Edwards punched in a touchdown run from three yards out and then Browning pulled the Warhawks within one score with a one-yard touchdown pass to start off the fourth quarter.
The Razorbacks led by seven points and the two teams passed the ball back and forth seven times before the pivotal drive of the game started for ULM with 2:59 left on the clock. Browning and the Warhawks were backed up on their own 10 yard line, but Browning completed four consecutive passes to bring the ball to the Arkansas 35. With just 55 seconds left on the clock, Browning and ULM faced a fourth and 10 on the Hogs’ 23. Browning hit Brent Leonard — who had dropped a sure first-down pass on third and 10 — over the middle for the game-tying touchdown.
In overtime, the Razorbacks had to settle for a field goal on their opening drive, which left the door open for the Warhawks. The Warhawks faced a fourth and 1 on the Arkansas 16, but with nothing to lose, they decided to roll the dice. Browning first went to the left, but a huge seam opened up on the right side of the field and Browning used his vision to attack the hole. He took the ball 16 yards to the end zone, capping one of the biggest upsets in recent memory.
With all the talk about the “Big 5 Conferences,” the big guys shouldn’t forget to respect the little guys or they might just find themselves as a part of history they would like to forget.