Overcoming the Razorbacks to Win the West


When the Arkansas Razorbacks joined the Southeastern Conference in 1992, they immediately became an annual opponent for Mississippi State. But prior to 1992, the two schools were virtual strangers on the football field.  The Dogs and Hogs had placed only twice, in 1916 and 1939, with Mississippi State winning both games.

Arkansas has enjoyed the upper hand in the series since the two teams became conference rivals. The Razorbacks lead the overall series 15-8-1. But the Bulldogs certainly have had their moments in the series, and perhaps no game brings more smiles to the faces of Bulldog fans than the 1998 game.

The story of this game actually began one week earlier. Arkansas, under first year coach Houston Nutt, was off to an 8-0 start and was the odds-on favorite to win the SEC’s Western Division and a berth in the SEC championship game. Mississippi State, with two conference losses, still had a mathematical shot at the West title, but the Bulldogs would not only need to beat Arkansas, but also get help from someone else in the SEC.  With Arkansas being a prohibitive favorite in their final game against a weak LSU team, the Bulldogs would most likely need the undefeated (and eventual national champion) Tennessee Volunteers to knock off Arkansas in order to have a shot at the west title.

In spite being favored and playing at home, Tennessee appeared to be on its way to certain defeat when the Vols (and the Bulldogs) received an unlikely break. With Arkansas trying to run out the clock, QB Clint Stoerner stumbled on a quarterback rollout and tried to use the hand that was holding to football with to steady himself.  Unfortunately for Stoerner, the ball stayed on the ground and Tennessee recovered, giving the Volunteers one final chance.  Tennessee took advantage and scored a TD in the final minute, handing Arkansas a heartbreaking 28-24 loss heading into their game at Mississippi State.

With a potential Western Division title hanging in the balance, the Bulldogs found themselves trailing the Hogs 21-19 with three minutes to play. Behind the incredible play of QB Wayne Madkin, who converted a 3rd & 18 and a 4th & 15 during the final drive, the Bulldogs drove from their own 46 yard line to the Arkansas 10. With only seconds remaining, Brian Hazlewood then booted a 27 yard field goal, his fifth of the game, to give MSU a 22-21 victory.  Relive the final four minutes of the game with this video:

MSU went on to capture the Western Division title and a berth in the SEC championship the following week with a 28-6 victory over Ole Miss in Oxford.