Back in 2013, on the cusp of what for a minute looked like a glorious new era for Arkansas football, Jen Bielema put what now seems like a hex on the Razorback program.
At the time, Arkansas was 3-0 to start the Bret Bielema era in Fayetteville, and Bielema’s wife was feeling pretty feisty about the football program the couple had left just a few months to come to Arkansas. Their departure from Madison, Wisconsin wasn’t pretty, to say the least.
So Jen Bielema didn’t hesitate when firing off the #karma Tweet heard ’round the world in the wake of referees gifting Arizona State a win over Wisconsin.
After that Tweet, Arkansas lost every contest the rest of the season while Wisconsin won six more games.
Arkansas Football and Karma
Four years later, Wisconsin had racked up 41 wins in the intervening time while Arkansas had compiled a 23-27 record. For the Razorbacks, it’s gotten even worse sense then, with one of the most devastating losses coming last Saturday when a supposedly resuscitated Arkansas squad lost at home to Auburn by 38 points. The Tigers were especially potent on the ground, racking up 354 rushing yards and 23 first downs while allowing only 10.
Afterward, Auburn football coach Hugh Freeze wanted folks to know it could have been worse: “I don’t mean this to sound any sort of way, but we could have put up a lot of numbers [against Arkansas],” Freeze said. “We started milking some clock.”
Oh, Hugh. I’m sorry to inform you, but it definitely sounded some sorta way.
He added: ““I was the most pleased with dominating the trenches on offense and defense against Arkansas.”
Well, said domination did not carry over into the following week against Jerry Kill’s New Mexico State Aggies.
On Saturday afternoon, Auburn was thoroughly manhandled in a 31-10 rout by a Conference USA team it paid $1.85 million to come to Jordan-Hare Stadium. Some Auburn football fans are labeling it the worst in that program’s history, on par with the Crimson Tide’s loss to Louisiana-Monroe in 2007.
“Auburn wasn’t good enough on the line of scrimmage on either side of the ball after dominating the line of scrimmage last week against Arkansas,” AuburnUndercover’s Jason Caldwell said.
“It’s on the coaches, it’s also on the players, it’s on the entire organization, and I think they would tell you that. There was not one facet of the game that was good enough tonight.”
Reacting to Auburn Football’s Embarrassment
For Arkansas football fans, the reaction is a bit of a mixed bag. Auburn had won three games in a row, so if the feeling would be different had they gone on to beat New Mexico State and then Alabama in the Iron Bowl, a matchup in which Alabama is favored by 15 to those who know 1xBet partners is profitable. In that scenario, the feeling would be “Well, we were just unfortunate to run into a team that caught fire late in the season and we’re definitely not the only ones who got burned.” That’s essentially what happened to Hogs basketball team when losing to Baylor in 2021 and UConn in 2023 in March Madness.
Now, for some Razorback fans, seeing Auburn was just all smoke and mirrors makes them feel even worse about the loss.
However, that temporary malaise should be tempered by Arkansas broadcaster Mike Irwin’s insight into the matter:
Of course, it’s much easier to glory in another person being on the wrong end of some retributive #karma when you take care of your own business.
That’s what Arkansas did by securing a 24-point victory in its own rent-a-win vs FIU, even though it does matter that FIU is much worse than New Mexico State. Not long after that win, Sam Pittman’s status for 2024 became official. For Hugh Freeze, there’s likely a double lesson here to be learned. First, the one Mike Irwin emphasized about not making snarky comments about piling up the stats.
Also: Stop overlooking Jerry Kill’s team.
Last year, just a few weeks after beating the Razorbacks in Fayetteville, Freeze coached a Liberty team that got destroyed by New Mexico State 49-14. That time, Freeze would have had a good excuse as he was only two days away from being announced as Auburn’s coach. Despite the predictable late-season coach-speak to the contrary, it’s hard to believe he wasn’t distracted.
This time around there should have been no such excuses. Plus, “if you’re looking ahead to the Iron Bowl, you win this game by seven or 10 after a sloppy performance,” The Next Round’s Ryan Brown points out. “You don’t lose this game 31 to 10 looking ahead to the Iron Bowl.”
Perhaps the only reasonable explanation for such a margin is Jen Bielema’s favorite word, for once, doing some work on Arkansas’ behalf.
More on Auburn football’s loss to New Mexico State here:
More on Auburn Football Stumping Its Big Toe
As Ryan Brown of the The Next Round sees it, Hugh Freeze couldn’t have overlooked New Mexico State. First of all, he knows his own roster. He knows, particularly, “they’re not good enough to look past anybody. And I think Hugh Freeze could watch film and see how good this New Mexico State team is. And third, I think Hugh Freeze knows who Jerry Kill is. And you’re not going to look past a Jerry Kill game.”
In a podcast that released on Sunday, Brown concedes, “Now maybe the players, in the back of their minds, were looking past to the Iron Bowl. That… If you’re looking ahead to the Iron Bowl, you win this game by seven or 10 after a sloppy performance. You don’t lose this game 31 to 10 looking ahead to the Iron Bowl.”
In the end, it’s really quite simple: “You lost to a better football team. New Mexico State is the better football team than Auburn.”
Well, at least they were for one game. Auburn’s going to have become a far better team in order to have any hope on Saturday of beating the Crimson Tide, who will enter Jordan-Hare with a 10-1 record. “No one is running too much on that defensive front,” Hugh Freeze said on Monday. “We’ll have a good plan and our backs are good and our tight ends are good and our O line is competitive, but we do need to establish run game. It will be no fun if you’re having to drop back and throw every down that, that won’t work.”
Josh Crain dives into his own analysis of Auburn football woes here:
For more on Arkansas football from BoAS: