Roberson Recalls: Ole Miss and Arkansas – A Significant College Football Series



By Jeff Roberson,

To say that there have been some unusual football games between Ole Miss and Arkansas is a proverbial understatement. It’s a series that began long before the Razorbacks joined founding member Ole Miss at the Southeastern Conference 30 years ago.

Perhaps no other historically significant game between the two schools has proven this better than the 1960 game, a time when both teams were good but Ole Miss was a national title contender every season.

Ole Miss won the game this season 10-7 in Little Rock, but there was a lot of debate in Arkansas as to the outcome.

Late in the game with the score of 7-7, place kicker Ole Miss Allen Green lined up for a field goal. He kicked the ball through the uprights, but referee Tommy Bell signaled the time-out. Apparently he did it because players couldn’t hear their signals due to the noise from the crowds inside War Memorial Stadium.

So Green lined up again and kicked the football. This time around, it looked like the kick might have been missing, and for Razorback fans in the end zone, there was no doubt that it was. But Bell immediately signaled the “good” kick, certainly all the rebels agreed with that, and the game ended 10-7 in favor of Ole Miss.

The Rebels haven’t lost a game this season – only a 6-6 tie with a mediocre LSU team at Oxford was a fault – and they won a Football Writers Association of America national championship at 10-0-1 .

“Every December a man from Arkansas sends me a Christmas card,” Ole’s legendary head coach Miss John Vaught wrote in her 1971 memoir “Rebel Coach”. “He wants to haunt me, not wish me a Merry Christmas.

“The man draws angled goal posts on the back of the card,” Vaught continued. “I understand. He doesn’t want me to forget something that I learned a long time ago. Football fans have long memories.”

The 1961 game, won by the Rebels 16-0 on dedication day at the renovated and expanded Mississippi Memorial Stadium in Jackson, was the last of the era. Besides two Sugar Bowl wins by Ole Miss in 1963 and 1970, it took 20 years before the teams played another game.

When they finally met in 1981 in Jackson, one of the biggest crowds in Mississippi sports history showed up for the Hogs’ 27-13 victory. Fans on both sides of the Mississippi River were thrilled to see the series return.

Ole Miss and Arkansas had already played for 11 straight seasons before their first SEC clash in 1992. During that transition period for the Razorbacks, the Rebels won four straight games (1990-93).

The 1990 game played at Little Rock was the most memorable of the time. Chris Mitchell, the first recipient of the Chucky Mullins Courage Award, struck Hogs Ron Dickerson in the last second after some of his rebel teammates slowed Dickerson down just enough that Mitchell’s kick knocked him sideways and short from the goal to the end of the allotted time. .

Final score that day: Ole Miss 21, Arkansas 17.

Over the years, there have been all kinds of moments in this series. There was – at the time – the longest game in NCAA history, a 58-56 seven-overtime victory by Arkansas in 2001 at Oxford.

And there was Houston Nutt’s first game against Arkansas when he was head coach of the Rebels after 10 seasons as head coach of the Razorbacks. Ole Miss won a 23-21 nailbiter in Fayetteville in 2008.

But nothing was more painful for Ole Miss than the 53-52 overtime loss to Arkansas in 2015 at Oxford. The Rebels could have continued on the path to the SEC Championship Game, as SEC Rep West had won. In the end, their consolation prize was quite remarkable, a ninth trip to the New Orleans Sugar Bowl program and a 48-20 win over Oklahoma State.

In 1914, Ole Miss won 13-7 from the field, but the Razorbacks disputed the results. They still do. Arkansas does not recognize Ole Miss’s victory. In 1938 in Memphis, a big fight broke out between the players of the two teams. When the dust settled, Ole Miss scored a 20-14 victory.

Most recently, Arkansas won 33-21 last season at Fayetteville, but the Rebels had won the previous two seasons – 37-33 at Little Rock in 2018 and 31-17 at Oxford in 2019.

So there is still time for Ole Miss and Arkansas to renew their old and legendary series. You can expect the unexpected, but maybe more than that, expect a good college football competition between two rivals over a century old.


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