Two former Southwest Conference rivals, No. 15 Texas and Arkansas, will look to build on their season-opening performances when they square off on Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark., with plenty on the line and a look to the future.
The two programs will be joined in the same league again, this time when the Longhorns follow Arkansas to the Southeastern Conference, perhaps as soon as the 2022 campaign.
While there’s plenty of past between the two teams, there’s more than enough to keep both squads focused on the present and the task at hand. Texas and Arkansas each produced workmanlike victories on opening weekend — with the Longhorns dispatching then-No. 23 Louisiana 38-18 and the Razorbacks doing more than enough to beat Rice 38-17.
“As far as this ballgame … going to Arkansas, pretty cool game,” Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said Monday. “Obviously, old Southwest Conference foes to meet. We have a great deal of respect for Arkansas. We’ll keep our focus on us, but we’ll definitely make sure we enjoy that experience of it all.”
Saturday’s game will be played before a capacity crowd, the Razorbacks’ first home sellout since 2017.
Texas jumped six spots in the Associated Press poll with its win. Redshirt freshman quarterback Hudson Card passed for 224 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score in his first collegiate start to help the Longhorns begin the Sarkisian era with a bang.
“I was pleased with what we saw from Hudson,” Sarkisian said. “The next ‘new’ is going on the road, playing a good opponent and dealing with a hostile environment.”
Bijan Robinson ran for 103 yards and a touchdown and caught four passes for 73 yards and another TD in Texas’ romp while Jordan Whittington led all receivers with seven catches for a career-best 113 yards.
Arkansas was not as impressive in its opener against Rice, trailing at the half and tied after three quarters before turning up the heat and making plays over the final 15 minutes.
The Razorbacks’ defense forced three fourth-quarter interceptions which ultimately led to scores — a go-ahead 2-yard touchdown run by Trelon Smith, a 9-yard touchdown pass from KJ Jefferson to Tyson Morris and a 3-yard scoring run from Dominque Johnson.
Smith ended up with 102 yards on 22 carries to lead the Razorbacks, which outrushed Rice 245-81. But Jefferson struggled, passing for just 128 yards with an interception and gaining 89 yards on the ground on nine totes.
“I’m certainly not going to sit here and apologize about anything,” Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said Monday. “We won 38-17. We can certainly get a lot better, and that’s what will happen. If you break it down, those things are simple fixes that should have already been taken care of.”
Texas and Arkansas will meet for the 79th time, but the first since 2014 and just the sixth time in the last 30 years. Arkansas defeated the Longhorns 31-7 in the 2014 Advocare Texas Bowl in the teams’ most recent meeting.
Texas holds a 56-22 advantage in the all-time series and has won 21 of the last 30 meetings against Arkansas, dating back to 1967. The teams played 60 straight times as SWC foes before the Razorbacks left for the SEC following the 1991 season.
–Field Level Media