Did playing in an NFL stadium cost the Arkansas Razorbacks a victory over Texas A&M Saturday night? It’s open to conjecture.
Cam Little’s 42-yard field goal attempt with 90 seconds remaining in the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium hit the very top of the right upright and fell to the ground short, preventing the No. 10 Razorbacks from taking a 24–23 lead over the Aggies. After the miss, A&M ran out the clock for a 23–21 victory that knocked Arkansas from the unbeaten ranks.
If the game had been played on campus in Fayetteville or College Station, that might have gone differently.
In 2014, the NFL changed the height of its uprights from 30 feet to 35, while the college rules manual states that uprights must be “at least 30 feet” above the ground. With a shorter set of college uprights, Little’s kick would have gone over the top of the right upright, resulting in a judgment call for the officials.
The correct call would have been the same result: no good. But it would have been close and open to interpretation for the officials stationed beneath the uprights.
“If the ball is higher than the upright, it must be completely inside the upright to be good,” a veteran former college official told Sports Illustrated late Saturday night. “If it is straight over the upright it is not good.”
Rare as it is to have a kick hit the top of an upright, this was the second time it has happened this season. Wyoming had a potential winning field goal result in a virtually identical doink against Tulsa on Sept. 3. The Cowboys did go on to win in overtime.
With the exception of the 2020 pandemic season, Arkansas and Texas A&M have played at JerryWorld every season since 2014. The Razorbacks have lost seven of the last eight between the two in that venue, several of them in agonizing fashion (five have been decided by one score, and three went into overtime). This might have been the toughest to swallow yet.
In addition to the doinked field goal, Arkansas had a game-turning fumble near the A&M goal line while leading 14–7 late in the first half. Aggies defensive back Tyreek Chappell grabbed the KJ Jefferson fumble in the air and began returning it, then lateraled it to teammate Demani Richardson, who ran the remaining 82 yards for the touchdown. Instead of a 21–7 game at halftime, the score was 14–13 and A&M eventually took a 23–14 lead before holding on late.
“We can’t do that on first down,” Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said of Jefferson reaching the ball toward the goal line and having it knocked loose. “If it was fourth down, that’s a different story. Unfortunately, it just got popped out. He wanted to score, and that happened.”
Arkansas has no time to wallow in the dispiriting defeat—Alabama comes to Fayetteville on Saturday.
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