That reflected in the Razorbacks not cracking the Top 25 in the AP and Coaches polls Sunday though Arkansas defeated Mississippi State, 31-28 in last Saturday’s SEC West game at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Arkansas coach Sam Pittman did assert after Saturday’s success that upon defeating “a really good Mississippi State team” deserving of its CFP No. 17 ranking going into the game that the 6-3 Razorbacks are worthy of Top 25 inclusion in Tuesday’s CFP poll.

“Absolutely,” Pittman said. “There’s no question in my mind we deserve to be in the Top 25.”

Though only 2-3 in the SEC, the now bowl-eligible Razorbacks in September defeated then No. 15 Texas and then No. 7 (now AP No. 11) Texas A&M and then the CFP No. 17 Bulldogs.

Arkansas ascended as high as No. 8 in the AP during its 4-0 start before falling out after successive SEC losses to then No. 2 now No. 1 Georgia, then No. 17 now AP No. 12 Ole Miss and Auburn (No. 13 in the CFP poll).

“Now it’s hard to stay there and all those things but we’ve beaten 7, 15 and 17 at the time,” Pittman said. “They (Mississippi State, now 5-4 overall/3-3 in the SEC after losing to Arkansas) were basically looked at as the best 5-3 team in the country. I know we played them here. I know we had a bye (the Razorbacks had an Oct. 30 Saturday open date week), but I know we won the game. Absolutely I think we’re a Top 25 team in the country and deserve it.”

A lesson from Lynch

Grant Morgan remembered the Seattle Seahawks’ game against the New England Patriots in 2015, with the Super Bowl on the line.

The Seahawks were on the 1-yard line down 28-24, ignored Marshawn Lynch, their and the NFL’s bulldozing best running back. They tried fooling New England with a pass.

Intercepted, it fooled only themselves.

So, last Saturday as the Arkansas Razorbacks offense perched on the Mississippi State four, idling but antsy Razorbacks senior linebackers Morgan, Bumper Pool and Hayden Henry wished they could access offensive coordinator Kendal Briles’ headset.

No tricks, they concurred. Freshman 235-pound running back Dominique Johnson had netted 110 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.

Surely he could get four more.

“I’ll tell you right now that me, Bump and Hayden were sitting down there,” Morgan said postgame. “And we said, ‘If we get on the 3-yard line we’re not pulling a Seattle Seahawks with Marshawn Lynch.”

Briles had the same vibe.

“That’s what we did so we’re excited,” Morgan said.

With just 21 seconds left, Lynch plowed untouched for the go-ahead touchdown and for good measure ran the 2-point conversion untouched, too.

The 2-point conversion could have been huge.

If made, Mississippi State’s game ending field try for a tie gone awry would have beaten the Hogs, 31-29 had Johnson been stopped short running the 2-point conversion.

Johnson smiled about Morgan’s mention of having first supplied Lynch as answer to a question.

“Marshawn Lynch,” Johnson had replied if he grew up idolizing and pattern himself off any NFL star. “He’s my favorite running back.”

Johnson smiled even broader about the offensive line’s end zone escort service provided by center Ricky Stromberg, guards Brady Latham and Beaux Limmer and tackles Myron Cunningham and Dalton Wagner.

“Those five guys up front blocked their tails off,” Johnson said. “Nobody touched me. The hole was as big as I don’t know what. The two-point conversion was pretty much the same way.”

Johnson netted 117 yards with two TDs and a 2-point conversion for his 17 carries.

He wasn’t a one-man show. Fourth-year junior Trelon Smith and fellow true freshman Raheim “Rocket” Sanders, contributed, too.

Smith’s 17 yards on five carries and Sanders 26 yards on eight carries and three catches for 41 yards figured in drives capped by Cam Little field goals.

Add speedster freshman AJ Green and the Hogs with Johnson starting have four-man running back depth going into Saturday night’s 6:30 SEC Network televised SEC West game at LSU.

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