And, the Razorbacks had no answer. With quarterback Brandon Allen's passes sailing higher and higher in the second half because of the strained oblique that knocked him out against LSU, the Arkansas offense lost its third down conversion touch.
What Alabama and LSU had not been able to do with smash mouth, Missouri did with the spread in a 15-0 fourth quarter to waltz to the SEC title game for the second straight year with a 21-14 victory Saturday at Faurot Field.
The winning drive was all on the ground, 85 yards on 11 running plays. There was one pass, an incompletion on the fourth play. The Tigers got the game winner on a 12-yard run by Marcus Murphy through a worn out Arkansas defense that was on the field for 83 snaps.
The Tigers ran it 16 times for 112 yards in the final quarter after the Hogs had held them for just 46 on their first 25 run plays. They had not given up a touchdown in 11 quarters until Missouri marched 98 yards in 10 plays, then 85 in 12 to dominate the final quarter.
“I missed a lot of easy throws,” said Allen, who said he “took meds” to play. “Hurt or not, a lot of third down throws I missed would've kept drives alive.”
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said he gave Allen the chance to take himself out, but went with the junior quarterback on his word.
“Coach Bielema asked me if I was good and I said I was fine,” Allen said. “I wanted to stay in. If I could get up, I was going to stay in. I wouldn't do it if I thought I was going to hurt the team. I got (the oblique) injury loosened up on the last drive.
“I just said, stay through it, stay through it. That's what was happening earlier. I couldn't stay through the throw.”
Allen said doctors told him early in the week that he could play and put the decision in his hands.
“I didn't get any reps other than Tuesday,” he said. “But that's no excuse. It was a lot like last year.”
The Hogs, as they have so often this year, opened with a bang. Allen completed third down throws to Keon Hatcher and Jared Cornelius in an 11-play, 70-yard touchdown march on their opening possession. The Tigers answered with a field goal, but Cornelius returned a punt 35 yards to set up a 31-yard scoring drive for a 14-3 lead.
The Hogs wasted a D.J. Dean interception when Darius Philon batted a Maty Mauk pass midway through the second quarter. The Hogs missed a chance to end the half on a bang when Trey Flowers blasted the ball away from Mauk, Philon recovering at the MU 19-yard line with 1:16 left.
That's when the replay official made the first of two big calls which went against the Hogs. It was ruled that Mauk's arm was moving forward before the ball came out. Mauk kept for 13 on the next play, Philon roughed him on an incompletion and the Tigers were rolling towards Andrew Baggett's 51-yard field goal to end the half.
Flowers called the reversal “pretty big,” and said, “It was in their territory, in the red zone. If we had gotten that, we could've got more points on the board. That's just adversity we have to get through. The officials made the decision.”
Bielema couldn't tell much from his vantage point, suggesting he won't know until he talks to SEC supervisor of officials Steve Shaw. But it sounded like he has respect for referee David Smith's crew.
“I couldn't hear the explanation,” Bielema said. “It's one of our better crews. Sometimes the ball doesn't bounce. We had so many chances at tipped balls that seemed to hang in the air forever.”
The Hogs hurt themselves with four procedure penalties, mostly when Missouri was moving its defensive line just ahead of the snap with defensive instruction.
“They were stemming,” Bielema said. “They were making calls. Our guys were jumpy.
“We had turnovers and penalties. The things that cost us today are things we can fix. We had been clean the last several games, but as soon as you put the ball on the ground it's not going to work.”
The Hogs flipped the momentum midway through the third quarter when Dan Skipper blocked Baggett's 35-yard attempt. Allen hit Demetrius Wilson for 16, then Sam Irwin-Hill converted on a fake punt with a 23-yard ramble to the MU 38-yard line.
That drive came up empty when Allen threw it away on third-and-3 and the Hogs were stuffed on a trick play out of a field goal situation. Kicker John Henson lined up under center, went in motion and Missouri native Kody Walker took a direct snap. He was stuffed trying to go around left end.
Senior offensive tackle Brey Cook praised Allen.
“It was tough circumstances,” Cook said. “We knew he was injured. We are proud of him.”
Linebacker Martrell Spaight was retrospective about the improvement the Hogs have made on the year.
“We went from three to six,” Spaight said. “That's a huge turnaround. To win six games, we know this program is going to be something to reckon with next season.”
Spaight said some of the things that had been so good for the Hogs let them down at the end.
“They had us in some two by two games as far as what they were doing, something we had seen,” Spaight said. “But we didn't tackle. We didn't wrap up. They have good running backs so give them credit, but we didn't tackle.
“The 85-yard drive, that was the running back breaking free, us not tackling. You have to tackle better and we know it. They found some things against us, but I think we can tackle better than that.”
Bielema said it was a game up front with the center.
“They did a nice job,” he said. “They were attacking the bubble. They were wrapping the center around. They took advantage of a lot of our guys. They got it corrected, but we got really sloppy with our tackling. I think we were a little big defeated at the end.”