After playing a pair of overtime games this season, including a four-overtime thriller against Auburn two weeks ago, Bret Bielema just wanted to get out of dodge with a win. So, when Arkansas pulled within a point of tying Ole Miss in overtime this past Saturday, Bielema decided not to go for the tie.
He decided to go for the win.
“After the 4th-and-25 play, I said, ‘You know what? The good Lord might be shining down on us today,’” Bielema explained on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “So when we were in that review of the 4th-and-25 play, I told our offensive coordinator and our coaches when we score our touchdown here, let’s go for two right away.’ They said okay. Obviously the rest is history.”
Only it’s not history. Arkansas failed to convert its first two-point attempt, but Ole Miss was called for a face-mask penalty.
Arkansas got to try again – and no, Bielema did not consider kicking it.
“No, that ship had already sailed,” he said. “I just thought we were a yard-and-a-half closer. So that’s when we went from a quarterback-draw play to a quarterback-run play. We knew BA (Brandon Allen) was good for at least a yard-and-a-half, so he got us in there and everything else ensued.”
Arkansas won, 53-52, as Allen finished 33-of-45 for 442 yards and six touchdowns. The Razorbacks (5-4) have now won three straight games after a series of close early season losses.
“I learned this when I was at Wisconsin,” Bielema reflected. “We had a rough year and we lost three or four in a row and we finally won one. Once we got on track, we were never derailed again. We went on to win three straight conference championships. I think once you’re on a streak of winning, it’s so much easier to keep winning than it is to right the ship when it’s going tough. If you’re on that losing path, it’s hard to get off it. It’s really, really difficult. I think every coach will tell you it’s one of those things. Once you have failure, it permeates into so many other aspects of your program and your mind and the kids just don’t know how to get rid of it. But now that you start winning, things start coming your way. Those close games, I think we had to endure those to (get) to where we need to be today. Three weeks ago when we beat Auburn in quadruple overtime, I don’t think there was any doubt our kids were going to leave that field as winners. It kind of came out that way and we’ve been wired that way ever since.”
The Razorbacks now travel to Death Valley to take on LSU (7-1), a team they shut out, 17-0, last November. What would it mean to win the Golden Boot two years in a row?
“It would mean a lot obviously,” Bielema said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for Coach Miles’ program, what they stand for and represent year in and year out. Even though they lost (to Alabama), we know where they stand in this division and what they want to play for. (A win) would mean a lot. We’re a program that’s trying to find its way in the SEC-West and we’re getting better every day. This would be a big one for us. We’ve got a tremendous challenge – one we’re really looking forward to.”
Kickoff is Saturday at 7:15 p.m. ET.