Arkansas posts second straight shutout in win over No. 8 Ole Miss

BY foxsports • November 22, 2014

There was an amazing statistic that came out of the one-sided Arkansas-Ole Miss meeting on Saturday, one that defines the up-and-coming nature of Bret Bielema's program in Fayetteville.

In some ways the Razorbacks' 30-0 demolition of the eighth-ranked Rebels was the byproduct of a highly competitive SEC West -- the consensus toughest division in college football that has seen its two last-place teams (Arkansas, LSU) log three top-25 wins over the past month. But it's not hard to see the direction the Arkansas program is heading after watching its on-field destruction over the past two weeks. So here's the statistic (via ESPN Stats & Info): with its 17-0 win against LSU and 30-0 win on Saturday, Arkansas became the first unranked team since 1942 to post shutouts over multiple ranked opponents in a single season.

Bielema has built the Razorbacks in his own image. It should look familiar -- after all, his former Wisconsin program is still churning out record breaking numbers on the ground with shoe-in All-American and 2,000-yard rusher Melvin Gordon. The offensive line is a collection of bulldozers, the biggest offensive line at any level of football, and it paves the way for talented running back duo Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams. Rinse, repeat. The offensive numbers against Ole Miss were not overwhelming (311 total), but when Bielema's defense is forcing six turnovers, including a pick-six, the running game just needs to manage the game.

It's also the first time in school history the Razorbacks have blanked two straight opponents.

Of course, in the grand scheme of things, the 2014 season does not hold much more to work toward. The win over Ole Miss granted the Razorbacks bowl eligibility for the first time since its 2011 season under Bobby Petrino. With five losses, a major bowl is out of the question. Same goes for any semblance of hope in the conference title picture. 

The team's two remaining games offer an excellent opportunity to hit the ground running in 2015, though.

Arkansas brings back the majority of its firepower next season, and piling the first two SEC wins under Bielema on top of the fact that its five losses have each come to top-10 teams at the time of the game (Auburn, Alabama, Texas A&M, Georgia, Mississippi State) it's clear that the gap is closing. Arkansas lost by one point to national title favorite Alabama, took Texas A&M to overtime and dropped the game to then-No. 1 Mississippi State by one touchdown.

It's not too much of a stretch to assume the Razorbacks will be just as competitive -- if not more so -- in the conference picture next season.

This historic streak of shutouts has officially turned things around for Bielema. The pieces were already in place, but now the Razorbacks are getting things done. Arkansas was the SEC West cupcake for two seasons. No more.