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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Texas Football: The Arkansas Game 

Week Four: No. 7 Texas (3-0) vs. Arkansas (2-1)
Last Week: Texas 52, Rice 10; Alabama 49, Arkansas 14
Last Meeting: #7 Texas 22, Arkansas 20 (2004)
All-Time Series: Texas leads 55-21

"I think I know that this game is important to the people of this state. I don't need any sixth sense. Every conversation I'd hear every week would be: 'Congratulations. We're behind you. Beat Texas.' There'd always be those two words thrown in at the end of the exchange."

Jack Crowe, Arkansas Head Coach, 1990 (Bleeding Orange, pp. 101)

Depending on how many hotel rooms Hurricane Ike and ACL Fest left remaining Austin, expect to see plenty of Razorback fans invade Austin this weekend. It may be any old game for the Burnt Orange - especially those not old enough to have ever watched a "Raycom Game of the Week" between the Horns and Hogs - but for the folks from Fayetteville, this weekend means a chance to prove something against those arrogant Texans.

Arkansas was always the outcast in the Southwest Conference, even when they were among its elite. When they bolted to the SEC in 1992, a move that helped expedite the SWC's demise, their rivalry with Texas ended. It did for Texas, at least. Longhorn Coach David McWilliams cracked that it was sad, but "not like my cat dying." The point is, Orangebloods moved on.

Arkansas did not.

Old school Texas fans have peppered their younger brethren over the years with tales of woe and misery about ventures into Fayetteville or Little Rock. Gas stations denied them fill-ups; Restaurants denied them food. Crazed men in Pig hats spat on them; Decrepit ladies with wrinkled faces gave them the finger. They were cursed at, even peed on; their tires were slashed and their windshields busted. In short, they were shown everything but hospitality from a foe their team usually defeated.

I made the trek to see for myself in 2004, and while I left the stadium free of bruises, open wounds or urine-covered clothing, I faced more verbal taunts than every other road venue I've visited combined, and there have been more than a few. And I also took an elbow to the chest from a random co-ed who apparently thought my presence was impeding her walk toward the stadium.

Texas won that game, but it took a few breaks in the waning moments to hold off an Arkansas team that simply wasn't as good as Texas, the eventual Rose Bowl champions. Overall talent level mattered little, though, just as in 2003 and 1999 (actually the 2000 Cotton Bowl), when Arkansas bested Texas teams that were better on paper. You could cite a number of reasons for why Arkansas played as well as they did against Texas in those games - a Big 12 title game hangover in 1999, coupled with Major Applewhite's shredded knee, and Texas' inability to cover kickoffs in 2003, coupled with a disastrous 3rd and 30 conversion - but one element was central to each of them: disdain for all things Texas.

Oddsmakers have Texas as a 27.5-point favorite this week, and the Horns could very well end up opening that proverbial can of whoopass. But Arkansas still hates Texas with every fiber of their being, and that won't change no matter how large the spread grows. This game will mean more to the Hogs than it will to the Horns, and that's an equalizer that could affect the outcome.

This Week's Game in a Nutshell

Now that I've talked up Arkansas' equalizing hatred of Texas, the Horns will roll through them like Hurricane Ike through downtown Houston.

Matt Answers Who Is and Is Not Worth a Damn in The Week that Will Be
I’ve never been one for pre-season polls. Far too often the teams that we think are worth a damn aren’t worth a damn and the ones that aren’t supposed to be worth a damn are worth a damn. That’s a lotta damns and a lotta worths. But now that we’re a few weeks into the season, we have a better idea of who is what and how fat Houston Nutt has gotten. So here’s a damn poll that’s completely worthless, Matt’s Top 20 Poll:

20. Oregon Hey, look! Another Pac-10 team in the Top 20! The Ducks probably won’t be here long, however. They’ve already used 4 quarterbacks this year, and none of them are named Dennis Dixon. Autzen Stadium isn’t even the formidable place it used to be. They’ve lost 2 of their last 4 there.

19. Boise State How many years of eligibility does Ian Johnson have? Is he on the Justin McLemore plan? There are senior senators that have been in Congress for less time than Johnson has been in the backfield for the Broncos. ER had it’s pilot in Johnson’s freshman season. Has he divorced the cheerleader yet?

18. Utah [Tries to think of something witty to say about Utah…gets bored and checks his Google Reader…scrunches face….takes sip of water…flips through the channels…shrugs]

17. Kansas KU basketball players Darrell Arthur and Mario Chalmers were recently dismissed from a NBA rookie orientation session because officials found marijuana in their hotel room. Can’t you just imagine Mark Mangino hitting the bong in his hotel room and designing new formations and plays? Isn’t this the most plausible reason on how you get that fat? Whatever they’re doing, it’s working in Lawrence.

16. Ohio State Don’t you just look at Ohio State and think Buffalo Bills? Would it really surprise you if Beanie Wells lost his helmet on the sideline this year? But you already know what is going to happen. The Buckeyes are going to keep winning games by a field goal or a late interception. They’ll keep doing this all the way to the Rose Bowl, and there will be talk of a “rejuvenated” Buckeye team, who now has a healthy Wells…and then they’ll get stomped by Missouri or whatever team gets sent out there to replace USC.
Check out the rest at Matt's blog.

They Said It...
"It's like a little fat kid. You talk about him enough, and he's going to get tired of it. And we're tired of it. That's why sometimes we have a chip on our shoulder. We have stuff to prove. We have an image of us and guys haven't even played us"

Texas DT Roy Miller
We've read this stuff a lot over the past few years. Sometimes it's been a precursor to a big Longhorn performance (Arizona State last year), sometimes it hasn't (Kansas State and Texas A&M last year). Howard Schnellenberger disrespected Texas in Week One and the Horns mauled his team. But Florida Atlantic wasn't going to beat Texas no matter what their coach did or did not say. Texas needs to come out and stomp Arkansas or else quips such as Miller's are going to be routinely ignored and people will continue to label Texas with the descriptions they're tired of hearing.
"I think that package has been successful"

Greg Davis
, referring to the infamous, and little-used, "Q Package" that Texas coaches apparently deemed successful after nine uses against Rice.
I'm as excited as anyone else about the prospects of John Chiles getting a chance to use his athleticism in a manner that benefits the team, but trotting out this package against Rice - when it didn't do squat in the first two games - hardly instills a sense of confidence that it will make a difference against an Oklahoma.

What, did you expect me to just say "that's what she said"?
"'I thought he bounced back pretty good, ' Paul Petrino said of Dick."

Arkansas WR Coach, Paul Petrino
That's what she said.

In the Huddle with "Sir Rod"

"All I'm gonna say is.....i first strapped it on with these guys in 1991. how long ago was that? seems like two weeks ago to me. oh well.....let me just say..........i don't eat pork and i haven't since THAT year..(1991). if the tailgate lives up to par for wild boar...THEN I'M EATING!!! Mmmmmmmmm. BRING IT DREW!"

(Note: "Sir" Rod Walker played RB for the Horns from 1991-1994. He currently chairs a committee seeking to enshrine John Mackovic in the Longhorn Ring of Honor.)

Stonie's Stone Wall

Coming soon...

(Note: Stonie Clark played DT for the Horns from 1992-1995. He once left a permanent dent in Sooner RB James Allen's torso with a flying body tackle.)

Betcha Didn't Know

Bleeding Orange, Kirk Bohls' and John Maher's recap of Texas' "Shock the Nation" tour in 1990, noted that surprisingly, lowly Rice had defeated Texas more times than Arkansas. In the 18 years since its publication, Arkansas has evened the Owls with 21 all-time victories against Texas. But SMU, who hasn't beaten Texas since the early 80s, remains a game up with 22 wins, and Baylor, if you count the "Bullshit on the Brazos" contest in 1992, has pulled ahead with 22 wins of their own.

The Things I think About

I'm just glad that this time around we're not thinking about this:

Personal Anecdote Involving This Week's Opponent

I've often told the story of watching the 1987 Texas-Arkansas game and going crazy when Tony Jones caught the game-winning pass with no time remaining. I should confess now, 21 years later, that I thought at the time that Eric Metcalf caught the pass. It was a while before I learned Jones actually hauled in the catch. I was 10 years old, and Metcalf was my favorite Longhorn. I thought he caught every pass.

Semi-Relevant quote from the movie Tombstone
"We started the game we never got to finish"
When I first though of using this quote, which Doc Holliday spoke to Johnny Ringo just before he put a bullet between his eyes, I thought it relevant from the perspective that an old rival has returned. Forget the one-sidedness of the rivalry, or that it's been dormant in 13 of the last 16 years. For those of us that grew up hating Arkansas with a fervor topped only by Oklahoma and Texas A&M, matching up with the Hogs remains something special.

This week the quote takes on a second meaning, as we all started getting ready for a Texas-Arkansas showdown two weeks ago that was tabled due to Hurricane Ike.

Either way, when the teams stand toe-to-toe, I hope Texas plays Doc Holliday to Arkansas' Johnny Ringo.

Deluded/Rational Thoughts from an Opposing Message Board

Whether Hog fans need a straight jacket for thinking they can win, or whether they think their team needs to age, like wine, you can count on seeing Razorback fans refer to our great state and team as "Texass."


The Ultimate Texas-Arkansas Highlight

Prediction: Arkansas fans leave Austin wishing Ike had postponed the game for good.



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