FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ 31-28 victory over No. 17 Mississippi State on Saturday afternoon assured the Razorbacks of being bowl eligible with three games still remaining in the regular season.
Sam Pittman was quick to point out how good Mississippi State was and also how proud he is of his team.
“I want to say this, we beat a really good football team,” Pittman said. “Mississippi State has and played tonight a great football game. Well-coached, very physical, I believe they deserved the 17th-rated team in the country. We were very fortunate to have had an off week because they do so much blitzing and movement on the line, but I think we beat a good football team. The other thing is, I’m very, very, very proud of our coaches and our administration. We didn’t just win the Super Bowl, but it feels like it. We’re bowl eligible, and very, very excited to know that we’re going to play in December or January.”
Arkansas will play in its first bowl game since Dec. 29, 2016, when they lost to Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl. Arkansas was selected to play in a bowl game last season, but it was canceled due to COVID issues at TCU.
“It’s unbelievable,” Pittman said. “Especially to have a win like that tonight against a good football team. I’m happy. I’m happy for the coaches and the kids. I know we didn’t just win the national championship, but it’s not going to feel a whole lot better than that locker room did. Hopefully we’ll have an opportunity to try it.”
Linebacker Grant Morgan had seven tackles, an interception and pass breakup in the win. He has been on some of those teams that didn’t qualify for a bowl game so he was certainly pleased with Saturday’s result and the 2021 season to this point.
“Yeah, I honestly want to say the emotions are mixed right now, because I don’t think these young guys realize how big of a deal it is,” Morgan said. “Everyone’s happy. Everyone is so excited because we know this is the last year with Pittman and we know what we’ve come from and everyone saw us, where we came from. But I think the young guys don’t realize this is a big deal. Like going to a bowl is a big deal, especially with three games left. Like we can just keep climbing our way up bowl games. So we’ve got to continue doing what we do. I know I’m probably one of the happiest guys in this room. And the happiest guy in that room over there just cause of what we’ve came through. We’ve got about six of the guys who were on that team. It’s awesome to see what this team has done and what we’ve come from and seen how the guys are handling it. We’re all excited.”
Linebacker Bumper Pool led the Razorbacks with 10 tackles. He too, like Morgan, has played for some teams that didn’t make it to bowl games. He will enjoy this one.
“I think it’s very important especially as we’re trying to build a program right now,” Pool said. “And the first step is getting into a bowl. I think that you can build off that every single year. To be bowl eligible – we have three more games left – is awesome. We just have to keep establishing it week by week.”
Quarterback KJ Jefferson had his usual outstanding game. He completed 19 of 23 passes for 191 yards. He also gained 14 yards on the ground. Jefferson is pleased to be going to a bowl game as a redshirt sophomore.
“Like Bump said, I’ve never been to a bowl game so I don’t know what it’s like,” Jefferson said. “Just being able to overcome that and be bowl eligible, I’m extremely proud.”
The Razorbacks (6-3, 2-3) will take on LSU (4-5, 2-4) on Saturday night in Baton Rouge. The game will be televised on the SEC Network with kickoff set for 6:30 p.m.