FAYETTEVILLE, Ark — Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson would love nothing more than to play the role of spoiler this week.
Any hopes of a bowl game ended in a loss at Mississippi State last week for the Razorbacks (4-7, 2-5 Southeastern Conference), who began the season ranked in the top 10.
What began with national championship dreams, even following former coach Bobby Petrino’s firing in April, will come to a certain end when Arkansas hosts No. 8 LSU (9-2, 5-2) today. How things play out after that for the Razorbacks, including the identity of their new coach, is unknown.
The Tigers still have expectations of a BCS bowl game — and are clinging to hopes of re-entering the SEC and national championship pictures.
“This is it,” Wilson said. “... So, why not go out there and light it up one more time? That’s how I’m looking at it.”
Wilson wasn’t the only one to let his guard down this week.
Interim coach John L. Smith, whose return after taking over for the scandal-ridden Petrino is unlikely, fought back tears while looking back at the Razorbacks’ disappointing season. Arkansas began the season ranked in the top 10 before an early season loss to Louisiana-Monroe sent it tumbling from the polls and began a four-game losing streak from which the Razorbacks never recovered.
Smith, whose open personality was welcomed upon his return in April, took criticism for his same upbeat nature once the losses began to pile up. His coaching fate now lies in the hands of Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long following Friday’s game.
“We’re sorry again we couldn’t have maybe done more,” Smith said.
While the Razorbacks’ postseason is expected to be filled with transition to a new coaching staff, LSU is hopeful of a return to a BCS bowl game and possibly more.
The Tigers appeared out of the SEC and national championship pictures following a Nov. 3 loss to Alabama, but they are currently the highest-ranked, two-loss team and could potentially player their way back into next weekend’s conference title game. Of course, that’s only possible if Auburn shocks the No. 2 Crimson Tide this weekend — and LSU wins.