b The Longhorn Mafia <$BlogRSDURL$>

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Longhorns: Strangers in a Strange Land 

In the past forty-eight hours, I've spent approximately nineteen hours riding in a car, six hours sleeping, eleven hours drinking beer, and four hours watching the Texas Longhorns rumble with the Arkansas Razorbacks. A quick look at the rest of the trip, by the numbers:

0: Number of congratulatory Arkansas fans after the game.

1: Attempt at physical abuse by an Arkansas fan. On our walk into the stadium, a female Hog fan brushed past me and "accidentally" elbowed me in the middle of the chest as she scurried by.

2: Instances in which someone shot us the finger, and one actually came on the highway en route to Fayetteville.

4: Times we had to pay a toll on crappy Oklahoma roads.

5: Exits that we missed between Dallas and Fayetteville and back.

7: Approximate age of the youngest fan to give our group the "horns down" sign.

8: Total number of hours spent in our Ft. Smith, Ark., hotel room, an average cost of $7.50 an hour.

10: Approximate number of blocks we walked, joyously, from the stadium back to our tailgate site.

13: Approximate number of times my friends and I were called "losers" by creative Hog fans.

18: Price, in dollars, of a case of beer in Fayetteville.

20: Minutes spent celebrating on the field after the win by the elated throng of bleacher Longhorns.

30: Approximate number of Texas fans among the 500 people occupying the North end zone bleachers.

74: Approximate number of times surrounding Razorback fans said that Texas couldn't run on their defense.

188: Rushing yards for Longhorn RB Cedric Benson.

1200: Approximate number of miles driven on the weekend.

1,357,937: Approximate number of times we saw the "horns down" sign.

Quotes of the Weekend

"Shut up, you've been cheating all night."
- Female Razorback several seats over, after Texas fans complained about a bad call.

"Mack Brown can't even beat Kansas State."
- Random guy in a stadium bathroom prior to the game. For the record, Texas has beaten K-State two straight times.

"Hey, y'all drove a long way to get your ass kicked."
- Random guy in a convenient store parking lot.

"You should get the loser kind of beer."
- Random Arkansas guy outside of a liqour store, apparently thinking that I asked him, and not Matt, what brand of beer we wanted.

"Since it's Sept. 11, can we all at least agree, 'f Al Qaeda?'"
- Matt, to an angry Razorback couple on the walk back to our car.

"Y'all are the first Texas fans I've met that aren't pricks."
- Teenage Arkansas fan at the RV lot where we tailgated.

"Please tell all of your friends that no one peed on you."
- Teenage Arkansas fan's girlfriend's mother.

Impressions of Reynolds Razorback Stadium

The locals insisted that their crowds are rowdier and louder when they play in Little Rock, but I have never seen a more passionate, more raucos environment. The stadium doesn't look that large, but its record crowd topped 75,000. Their "hog calls," which they do before kickoffs and at other frequent intervals, showed the kind of spirit and passion that makes college football such a great experience.

Despite the horror stories, we didn't get hit with any whiskey bottles, nor did we get threatened by any drunk Hog fans. There were several instances of unsolicited insults prior to the game, but all things considered, it was a relief that those represented the worst of it. Arkansas fans really do go overboard with the annoying "horns down" sign. Everytime they ran for more then three yards, or stopped us for less than five, they'd flash that at us. And two particularly dopey rednecks seemed intent on leading the bleacher section in giving them. They both had their heads painted red. One sported a mohawk and wore a hog nose, while the other had a greasy mullet dyed red, with various witticisms painted on his shirtless torso.

The game

It was ugly -- uglier than those stupid hog helmets that Arkansas fans wore. For whatever reason we abandoned our running game for the entire second quarter, and allowed Arkansas to get back into the game. Our overabundance of penalties hurt us all night, too, particularly on our second drive of the second half, when we had a chance to blow the game open. Instead of going up 29-17 with a touchdown, a false start penalty forced us into a field goal attempt that sailed wide left, keeping the score at 22-17.

The defense played better, I though, than the stat sheet indicated. Matt Jones is a solid QB, and he simply makes things happen. When we had to have a stop, the Texas defense answered the call. His scrambling ability set up a number of misdirection opportunities, and led to some big gains for te Razorback offense. Fortunately we won't see that kind of two-dimensional QB again until Missouri, and the Tigers don't scare me nearly as much as Jones and Arkansas.

I'm still scratching my head as to why we chose to attempt a two-point conversion in the third quarter. That missed conversion could have cost us the game. I don't agree with going for two at any point before the fourth quarter, unless you're trailing. Fortunately it didn't matter.

I'm sure that some people will cite the close win as evidence for why Texas isn't a top-echelon team. On a weekend, however, when Michigan loses to unranked Notre Dame, Georgia and Ohio State both survive scares to unranked teams, and the top three teams in the Big XXII North -- Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas State -- all lose games they were expected to win, just getting that "W" was enough for me. Razorback Stadium was electric, and Arkansas was pumped up like they were playing the Super Bowl. They wanted that win, but as is not always the case with a Mack Brown-coached team, Texas wanted it more.

I'll take it.


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