Photo: Walt Beazley, ArkansasRazorbacks.com
We have now entered the Bowl Zone. Six bowls were played last Saturday and 36 more will be played through Monday, Jan. 11.
The LSU Tigers are the first Southeastern Conference team to play in a bowl on Dec. 29 against Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl, and the Arkansas Razorbacks play on the back end of the schedule, Jan. 2 in the Liberty Bowl.
I thought it might be fun to take a stroll down memory lane and look back at some Razorbacks bowl records just to get our minds in the right mode for the onslaught of college football goodness that’s coming our way.
I’ll start with two bowl records that may never be broken. The first is the near magical game that Roland Sales had in the 1978 Orange Bowl. Sales rushed for 205 yards on a well respected Oklahoma Sooners defense, leading the way to a 31-6 Razorback rout to cap Lou Holtz’ first year as the Hogs coach. Sales was pinch-hitting for Ben Cowins, whom Holtz suspended along with wide receiver Donnie Bobo and fullback Michael Forrest for breaking team rules.
All these years later the game is still considered one of the biggest if not the biggest upset in all of bowl history. Frank Broyles left the cupboard fully stocked when he hired Holtz. As great a game as Sales had at running back, the Hogs had so much talent in the backfield that Sales finished his career as a defensive back.
Sales also owns the Arkansas bowl record for most all-purpose yards from that Orange Bowl. He had 52 yards receiving for a total of 257 all-purpose yards. It truly was a game of a lifetime.
The second record that’s unlikely to be broken anytime soon belongs to Louis Campbell. Campbell picked off three passes in the Razorbacks’ controversial 14-13 loss to Tennessee in the 1971 Liberty Bowl. Campbell, who coached the secondary for the Razorbacks under Danny Ford and worked in a football administrative position for years, was also named the Defensive MVP for the game.
Allen On The Cusp
The Razorbacks bowl record I’d label the most likely to be overturned in the near future is most touchdown passes, and it could go down this year by one of the seven Hogs tied for the current lead.
No Razorback has thrown more than two touchdown passes in a bowl game. Tied for the record are Bill Montgomery (1970 Sugar Bowl), Brad Taylor (1981 Gator Bowl), Clint Stoerner (1999 Citrus Bowl), Robby Hampton (2000 Las Vegas Bowl), Ryan Mallett (2011 Sugar Bowl), Tyler Wilson (2002 Cotton Bowl) and Brandon Allen (2014 Texas Bowl). With the way Allen was spinning the ball and the way his receivers were catching the ball the last half of the season, Allen could take the sole lead in the category in the Liberty Bowl.
The record for most touchdown receptions by a Hog in a bowl game is inauspicious. Twenty-nine Razorbacks have caught one TD pass throughout Arkansas’ bowl history. It would be fun to see Drew Morgan, Hunter Henry, Dominique Reed or Jeremy Sprinkle to take possession of this record in the Liberty Bowl as well.
Likewise no Razorback has scored more than two rushing touchdowns in a bowl game. Nine different Hogs have scored two TDs in a bowl, but Gary Anderson did it twice in the 1980 Hall of Fame Bowl and the 1982 Holiday Bowl. Felix Jones (2007 Capital One Bowl), Cedric Cobbs (2000 Cotton Bowl), Chrys Chukwuma (1999 Citrus Bowl), E.D. Jackson (1991 Independence Bowl), Barry Foster (1990 Cotton Bowl), Greg Thomas (1987 Liberty Bowl), Roland Sales (1978 Orange Bowl), and Ike Forte (1976 Cotton Bowl) also hold the distinction.
Razorbacks head coach Bret Bielema actually witnessed the Razorbacks’ longest run and scoring run in a bowl game, but he was on the other sideline. Felix Jones went for 76 yards against Bielema’s first Wisconsin Badgers squad in the 2007 Capital One Bowl. However, Bielema’s Badgers won the hard-fought game, 17-14.
It’s a wonder how the longest touchdown pass in Razorback bowl history was even completed. A heavy fog descended on the Gator Bowl when the Hogs squared off against the North Carolina Tar Heels in 1981. It was so dense that it was tough to see the action on the field in the stand much less on TV. Despite that, strong-armed Brad Taylor fired a direct hit to little Derek Holloway for a 66-yard touchdown in a game that was as entertaining as it was foggy. Unfortunately, North Carolina’s option attack, featuring Ethan Horton and Kelvin Bryant, was too much for Arkansas in the 31-27 loss.
However, the longest pass in Razorback bowl history came in the 1963 Sugar Bowl against Ole Miss. Bill Gray, a former UA assistant athletics director under Frank Broyles, tossed a 68-yard pass into the soft hands of Jerry Lamb in a 17-13 loss to the Rebels.
Bill Montgomery holds the Razorback record for the most consecutive passes completed in a bowl game with nine in a 16-2 victory over Georgia in the 1969 Sugar Bowl, and he also holds the record for the most passing yards in a bowl with 338 in the 1970 Sugar Bowl; however, legendary Archie Manning led Ole Miss to a 27-22 victory in that game. Montgomery also rushed for 22 yards against the Rebels, which gave him the Hogs record for most yards of total offense in a bowl with 360. Ryan Mallett holds the bowl record for most passes thrown (47) and completed (24) in the 2011 Sugar Bowl in a 31-26 loss to Ohio State.
Former head of the Razorback Foundation Chuck Dicus (1970 Sugar Bowl) and Derek Holloway (1981 Gator Bowl) share the Arkansas record for most receiving yards in a bowl game with 171, but Dicus holds the record by himself for the most receptions in a bowl game with 12 in the 1969 Sugar Bowl.
Bielema Could Break Two
Unfortunately, one of the records that stands out when looking over Arkansas bowl record book is the Razorbacks’ actual record in bowl games itself. The Hogs have played in 40 bowl games dating back to their first appearance in the 1934 Dixie Classic, but their record is just 14-23-3. Most of the losses were heart-breakingly close.
However, that history does give Bielema a chance to do something no Razorback coach has ever done before. He can not only become the first Arkansas coach to win his first two bowl games when the Hogs play Kansas State Jan. 2 in the Liberty Bowl, but also the first to win back-to-back bowl games.
For those wondering what the Hogs’ motivation will be for the game that fact should provide some of it.