Arkansas and Ole Miss Eccentric Rivalry Dates Back Over a Century

(photo: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports)

Since the Arkansas Razorbacks joined the Southeastern Conference in the early 90s, there have been a few forced rivalries. Fans have embraced LSU with the yearly battle for the “Golden Boot.” There have also been some memorable contests with Tennessee in the late 90s/early 2000’s. Most recently, there is an ongoing debate for the “Battle Line Rivalry” trophy with Missouri that many fans have yet to buy into.

Like it or not, Ole Miss has certainly become one of those rivals. Especially within the last five years. There was the “Henry Heave” to squander Ole Miss’ chances at the SEC West title in 2015. The Hogs pitched a 30-0 shutout in 2014. And don’t forget Santos Ramirez sealing the game, causing Chad Kelly to fumble in 2016. In a short period of time, you can think of many crazy moments. One that will forever stick out to me is the 7OT thriller in Oxford. And Arkansas-native Houston Nutt resigned as head coach of the Hogs, only to be named Rebels head coach the next day.

100+ years and counting

Over a century ago, on the eve of World War I there was the infamous 1914 contest which the Rebels won 13-7. But did they? If you ask anyone on the Arkansas side of the fence at that time, they won by forfeit due to the Rebels using an ineligible player. As you would expect, Ole Miss denies that.

With the game being so long ago and at that time there were much bigger fish to fry. There was the impending war, and the NCAA was still in the process of finalizing rules. So you may not have heard many rumblings of the argument in quite some time, if ever. It is a safe bet to say that this will never be resolved. There is not one person alive who could vouch for either team. The game was played at West End Park. In those days, it was also the home of the Arkansas Travelers minor league baseball team. This was around thirty years before War Memorial Stadium was built, and West End became the current home to the Little Rock Central Tigers.

With the forward pass being so new, it was common to see low scores such as this one. Based on the few details available, Ole Miss completely controlled the game in every category. The frustrations mounted from just about everything not going the Razorbacks’ way. Head coach ET Pickering lost it and punched a newspaper journalist. He was allegedly arrested (per hawgsports’, now with hawgbeat, Andrew Hutchinson). In the 65 times these two teams have matched up, if you ask an Arkansas fan the series is in the Hogs’ favor: 36-28-1, due to the use of the “ineligible player” in the 1914 contest. However, the Rebels will take it to their grave giving themselves credit for an extra victory at 35-29-1.

The twists and turns of a soap opera

When Arkansas and Ole Miss play each other, it may not have the attention of Ohio State/ Michigan, Texas/Oklahoma, or Alabama/Auburn. However, most would have to agree this might be the craziest series in college football. Find me (factual) stories between two teams that would involve a coach leaving his home state team he once played for, only to cross the Mississippi river the next day and ink the same job with a division rival.

There have been five 7OT games in college football history. The very first one was between the Hogs and Rebels in 2001. I can just about guarantee there is not a play in college football history like the 4th and 25 that eventually led to a Razorback victory when they had essentially no chance. I watch that to this day and still can not believe the amount of small details that had to occur in order for that to be successful.

I’d like to be speaking for all Razorback fans, but I’ll speak for the one writing. This game is personal for me. To be up front, I do not like Ole Miss. The stakes could not be any higher. This is an early season SEC West match-up for two teams who are in must-win situations. Arkansas coach Chad Morris is trying to show the Razorback fan base that he has his young team moving in the right direction. On the other sideline Matt Luke is trying to save his job. If you don’t consider this a rivalry now, just sit back and watch more insane scenarios unfold. I don’t believe they are quite over yet.