The University of Arkansas and its faithful audience can conjure up all sorts of sideways reasons why the Razorbacks - so high on the Hog just a month ago - entered Saturday slogging along on a three-game losing streak.
"It's the refs.'' "It's Jerry Jones.'' "It's fate.''
But the truth? Arkansas deserved to be ranked No. 8 at one time. And now deserves to be out of the AP Top 25.
Razorbacks 45, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 3 won't change much of that. But the results - with the Hogs playing an in-state foe for the first time since 1944 - beat the alternative.
“Even as old as I am, I wasn’t born at that point,” Arkansas coach Sam Pittman joked before kickoff. “It’s a big deal. I know for years, they said it wasn’t good to play in-state schools, but it’s exciting for the state.''
It was exciting for the Hogs from the very start, as they used some deception to spring Treylon Burks for a 49-yard TD run early in the game ...
And kept riding Burks and their other weapons to a win in this non-conference game at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, which pushes the Hogs to 5-3 overall.
Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson threw four touchdown passes in the first half, including passes of 18 and 39 yards to Burks in the second quarter, tacking onto Burks' early score. Jefferson, did not play after halftime and ended up having completed 10 of 17 passes for 194 yards, while running three times for 33 yards.
The Razorbacks scored on six of their eight offensive possessions in the first half, with Nathan Parodi also returning a punt 80 yards for a touchdown midway through the second quarter to put the Hogs up 31-0.
Said Pittman this week: "UAPB plays hard. They've had some injuries, but I’m sure (coach) Doc (Gamble) will have them ready.”
Again, the truth: The Golden Lions, who were allowed to shrink the game in the second half by play two 12-minute quarters, are now 1-6. They aren't good enough to succeed on the same stage as the Hogs - though in terms of state pride, a game in Little Rock offered the chance for lots of Arkansas kids to put their skills on display in a sort of "homecoming game'' for all involved.
Pittman did make some noise this week about his "home games'' that aren't at home, from Arlington, Texas, to here in Little Rock.
"You look at the schedule and it says 'H' for home, but they’re on the road,” said Pittman. “Having two games like this in the same year, it’s hard. ... But it is what it is. We’re going to embrace Little Rock. ... We’re going to embrace this and we’re going over there to win.”
The Razorbacks did that. No excuses. And against outmanned UAPB? No excuse for excuses. ... and lots of Treylon Burks and KJ Jefferson.