FAYETTEVILLE —It was been a staple on the schedule for 22 years.
Arkansas and LSU take part in their own brand of border war on Thanksgiving weekend. Seventeen of the 22 meetings have been scheduled for Black Friday. The rest came a day later with only one exception: The Razorbacks and Tigers closed the 1995 regular season by playing the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
But the Arkansas-LSU series is entering its final year as a regular season-ending game after the Southeastern Conference adjusted its football schedule to accommodate a 14-team league. The Tigers will wrap up the regular season with a Thanksgiving game against Texas A&M beginning in 2014. Arkansas will open its annual series with Missouri, hoping to ignite a new season-ending rivalry.
Of course, Arkansas and LSU will continue to play on an annual basis as SEC West foes. The 2014 game is scheduled for Nov. 15 in Razorback Stadium. The Golden Boot remains the reward, but the game will have a different feel in its new spot.
So to commemorate the final year of the series as a regular-season ending game, we’re taking a look back at some of the memorable Arkansas-LSU moments from Thanksgiving weekends since 1992. Below are just a few of the highlights:
1996 — LSU 17, Arkansas 7 — The Golden Boot was on the line for the first time and the Tigers hoisted the trophy when it was over. Quarterback Herb Tyler guided LSU to the win by completing 9 of 13 passes for 164 yards in the second half. The Tigers were stingy on defense, too, holding Danny Ford’s team to 84 yards in the first half. The win gave LSU a share of the SEC West championship.
1999 — LSU 35, Arkansas 10 — LSU lugged an eight-game losing streak into the finale. It also had an interim coach after Gerry DiNardo was fired at the beginning of the week. But the Tigers rallied around Hal Hunter to thump Houston Nutt, Clint Stoerner and the Razorbacks in Death Valley. The victory – which was LSU’s only conference win — proved to be quite a turning point. LSU hired Nick Saban after the season and has won four SEC titles and two national championships since.
2002 — Arkansas 21, LSU 20 — The Miracle on Markham will long be remembered as one of the biggest moments in school history. LSU seemed well on their way to the SEC title game after a field goal gave them a 20-14 lead with 40 seconds remaining. But quarterback Matt Jones – who had completed just two passes in the first 59 minutes – threw two darts to win it. The second landed in Decori Birmingham’s hands in the end zone for a 31-yard touchdown. David Carlton’s long extra point – the product of a celebration penalty – then sent the Hogs to Atlanta.
2003 — LSU 55, Arkansas 24 — The Tigers outmatched and overpowered the Razorbacks in Baton Rouge, getting four touchdown passes from quarterback Matt Mauck. The game was tied 17-17 in the second quarter when LSU scored 17 straight to take a large lead into the locker room. Arkansas didn’t help its cause with six turnovers. LSU got revenge for the Miracle on Markham and went on to win the SEC and national championships. Its national title was the first of Saban’s career.
2005 — LSU 19, Arkansas 17 — Once again, LSU needed a win to advance to the SEC title game and had to survive another thriller. The difference proved to be a botched punt that led to a safety at the end of the first half. The Tigers led 19-3 early in the third quarter before the Hogs mounted their comeback. Arkansas had a chance to tie the game after a touchdown, but the two-point conversion failed and helped LSU preserve its lead. The Tigers held on and won the SEC West in Les Miles’ first season.
2007 — Arkansas 50, LSU 48 (3OT) — Darren McFadden, Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis fueled this thriller, which went down as one of the most memorable games played in Tiger Stadium. McFadden rushed for 206 yards and 3 touchdowns, Hillis added four scores and the Razorbacks shocked the nation’s No. 1 team. Matterral Richardson’s interception of Matt Flynn’s two-point conversion pass finally ended the drama, giving Houston Nutt a historic win in his final game at Arkansas.
2008 — Arkansas 31, LSU 30 — The Miracle on Markham, Take 2. This repeat of the 2002 classic starred quarterback Casey Dick and receiver London Crawford. Arkansas trailed 30-14 before clawing back and had a chance to win late. Dick, who came off the bench to replace his younger brother Nathan, threw a strike to Crawford in the same corner of the end zone that produced the game-winner in 2002. The pass — which was the last of Dick’s college career — pushed Arkansas into the offseason with momentum and fueled its rapid rise under Bobby Petrino.
2010 — Arkansas 31, LSU 23 — Remember when Petrino and the Razorbacks didn’t come to paint? They proved it during this Sugar Bowl playoff in Little Rock. His gutsy fourth-down call resulted in Ryan Mallett’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Joe Adams, giving the Hogs a 28-20 lead. The win – which also included a go-ahead 80-yard touchdown pass from Mallett to Cobi Hamilton on the final play of the first half — pushed the Hogs into their first Bowl Championship Series game.
2011 — LSU 41, Arkansas 17 — There were national title implications for both LSU and Arkansas, who were ranked No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, in the BCS standings. The Hogs had no chance of reaching the SEC title game, but a win would’ve likely sent them to the national championship game anyway. Arkansas took a surprising 14-0 lead, too, before LSU got in gear. Tyrann Mathieu’s 92-yard punt return tied the game and the rout was on. LSU won the SEC title the next week, but lost to Alabama in the national championship game a few weeks later. Arkansas, meanwhile, went to the Cotton Bowl and equaled a school record with its 11th win. But the program’s climb came to a halt when Petrino wrecked his motorcycle three months later.