Bret Bielema 'Rock'ing It for First Time Last Week

By Zach Virnig
Arkansas Football, SEC Football
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The Arkansas Razorbacks received their 149th victory Saturday in their home away from home, War Memorial Stadium, in Little Rock. Arkansas played closer to the vest than expected in their second win of 2013 against FCS Samford, 31-21. Arkansas took a 17-7 lead into half. It was advantage Samford, 21-17, though, going into the final period. Arkansas scored on two short-yardage runs by running backs Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins to seal the game for the Hogs.

Arkansas, now has a winning percentage of 71 at War Memorial, and the first win under head coach Bret Bielema in the capital city.

Hogs fans saw this game as reminiscent to last season’s slate at the Rock. Arkansas lost in last season’s biggest upsets against Louisiana-Monroe and losing to Ole Miss by field goal, the first time Arkansas lost a game in Little Rock since 2006.

Arkansas is the only university in the country to play regular home games in two stadiums. Since 1948, the Razorbacks have divided games between Fayetteville and Little Rock. Arkansas is under contract to play two games a season at War Memorial until 2016, including at least one SEC game each season.

 Early Saturday, it was reported that at least 8,000 tickets still were available for the game Saturday in the 53,955 seated stadium. Saturday’s 47,358 contingent was the smallest attendance at the Razorbacks second site since 2002. Important to note, War Memorial Stadium has a capacity of 18,000 less than Fayetteville’s Razorback Stadium.

This coming after many Razorbacks followers believe that after 2016, Arkansas presence in the central part of the state should dwindle to a close.

Arkansas signed a 10-year contract with Texas A&M to play an annual SEC neutral-site game in the Dallas Cowboys playground of AT&T Stadium in Arlington. This would remove a conference home date from the Razorbacks’ schedule in 2015 and the Hogs would be faced with only two home conference games at Fayetteville.

Also, many Arkansas fans have made references to their new head coach Bielema’s take on the matter as a relevant argument.

Bielema raised concerns about the wear and tear of his players sitting on a bus after each game in Little Rock.

Bielema spoke about this earlier at the Little Rock Touchdown club, believing that the two trips, become the longest trips of the season, making for a three-hour bus ride. Bielema was so adamant about this, that Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long granted his team with a unique decision to fly a charter home from Little Rock for the first time ever Saturday night.

Arkansas faces a buzzsaw when games are shifted down south. Teams can’t host a recruiting weekend when games are played off campus, so Arkansas loses two weekends to host sought after recruits with the current setup.

Arkansas has four-team lettermen from the Little Rock area, including Hunter Henry, the fantastic freshman tight end, who had a team-leading six catches in the season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette.

War Memorial Stadium had been the Golden Boot home site for the Arkansas-LSU game until last season, when it was moved to Fayetteville. The game had been played in Little Rock as an alternate site since 1994. Arkansas has played Mississippi State in Little Rock since arriving in the SEC, starting with a series back in 1993, playing seven out of 10 home games there since then. Arkansas has never lost to the Bulldogs at home, even with a tie in 1993. The last four home meetings for Arkansas in the Mississippi State game have come in Little Rock.

Arkansas plays Mississippi State on Nov.23, again at War Memorial Stadium.

Zach Virnig is a SEC Writer for Follow him on Twitter @ZacharyVirnig, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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