FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Bret Bielema has been tested throughout his career as a head coach, though nothing quite like this first year at Arkansas.
The Razorbacks (3-7, 0-7 Southeastern Conference) are mired in a seven-game losing streak, matching the longest skid in school history.
It's a streak that's left Bielema searching for the silver lining in just about everything he comes across these days, though most of the positive involves looking ahead to next season.
"I've been a part of a lot of great streaks, but nothing of a negative streak as this is," Bielema said. "I think we're trying as coaches to de-emphasize the pure number of it, but you can't underestimate the effect of it."
Before Bielema can fully look ahead, Arkansas - which won't reach a bowl game for the second straight season - must close out this season, beginning Saturday against Mississippi State (4-6, 1-5) in Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium.
Bielema has refused to call either the game against the Bulldogs, or next week's trip to LSU, must-win games for the Razorbacks.
That said, he's well aware of just how much a win would mean for a program that's lost 10 straight games in the SEC.
"To see it come out in a (win), it obviously will help more to hold up against our competition in the recruiting world," Bielema said. "Because there are a lot of Negative Nellies out there in recruiting who love to remind people of your schedule and streaks and all that jazz."
The last time the Razorbacks lost seven straight was in 1990 under then first-year coach Jack Crowe, and they've never lost eight in a row.