It’s hard to remember a bigger game in Razorback Stadium than Texas coming to town Saturday to play Arkansas.
Sorry, folks, but the combination of the SEC Network circus, an early game and, well, the Longhorns’ burnt orange that has fanned the flames of Razorback fans as much as this week.
Maybe Alabama in 2010 or South Carolina in 2006 got close but they aren’t Texas. There’s nobody Hog fans have a more massive inferiority complex about.
Apologists will say that’s not it. They say it’s arrogance or whatever, but the bottom line is most Arkansas fans don’t feel their team is the equal of the ’Horns.
That’s because Texas has won 71% of the time the two schools have played, mainly because they’ve had better players most of the time.
The Hogs have counted on emotion for wins most of the time.
It’s the same story this year. The Longhorns have one of the best running backs in the country who also returns punts and kicks. They have a redshirt freshman quarterback who may be one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12, depending on who you want to believe.
Arkansas has a different culture and that indeed appeared to be the case in a 38-17 win over Rice in the season opener. There are teams in recent memory that would have found a way to lose that game, inventing something if necessary.
But Texas is going to be a different story.
Don’t fall in the trap of believing this Longhorns team is down on talent. The guy Steve Sarkisian replaced wasn’t fired because he couldn’t recruit. Texas has averaged a No. 7 finish in the 247Sports.com composite rankings over the last four years. The Hogs have averaged 30th.
And I don’t want to hear about the Texas Bowl where a pair of 6-6 teams were playing a game and one team had zero interest in being there. The same thing happened in 2000 when Mack Brown would have probably considered a forfeit if possible.
None of that has a thing to do with this year, by the way.
The talent gap is real, though, and Sarkisian appears to have brought a more focused approach than the previous coach.
The Hogs are counting on a loud and rowdy crowd, KJ Jefferson getting more comfortable at quarterback and Barry Odom performing some form of a miracle with the defense.
Back in 1981 I made the same prediction I’m making now because No. 1 Texas came into town against an Arkansas team that lost to TCU of all things.
Texas 48, Arkansas 14
In case you don’t know, I’ll save you the trouble of looking it up … Arkansas won, 42-11, and the game wasn’t as close as the final score indicates.
Heading into Week 2, the lead is thin and might be even after this weekend because there’s no difference except Arkansas and Texas.
Alabama State at Auburn: No idea if they are even taking action on this at the sports books because it’s a glorified scrimmage for the Tigers. Auburn 52, Alabama State 6
South Carolina (-2.5) at East Carolina: The Pirates are either better than first thought or nobody is putting any money on the Gamecocks, who are on the road for this one. South Carolina 31, East Carolina 20
Pittsburgh at Tennessee (-3.5): The Vols are on a roll but this week will tell us more about Josh Heupel’s second team, although more folks in Tennessee are positive than in recent years. Tennessee 34, Pittsburgh 27
Florida (-28.5) at South Florida: The Gators obviously needed to play a game in the Tampa area for recruiting purposes because that’s the only reason this should be a road game. Florida 49, South Florida 21
Alabama-Birmingham at Georgia (-22.5): The Bulldogs won’t find the going as tough on offense as it was last week against Clemson. In fact, they might not see a defense like that again until playing Alabama in the SEC title game. Georgia 31, UAB 7
Texas A&M (-17) at Colorado: Thank goodness we aren’t picking against the spread because that’s going to be all over the map this week. This game may be the hardest to handicap, but Jimbo Fisher will want to run it up. Texas A&M 56, Colorado 14
Mercer at Alabama: Nick Saban wants to focus on the fine points but nobody else cares about that. They just want a win. Alabama 63, Mercer 6 (so Saban will have a teaching point)
North Carolina State at Mississippi State (-1): You know a game between two teams that end in “State” probably isn’t going to be an artistic success and Mike Leach isn’t wanting any more close calls like last week. Mississippi State 31, NC State 21
Austin Peay at Ole Miss: Does anybody really care? The safest prediction is nearly half the folks in The Grove won’t make it to the 6:30 kickoff. Ole Miss 62, Austin Peay 10
Missouri at Kentucky (-5.5): Okay, I guess nobody else figured the Wildcats would ever worry about football, but then it just means a little more when you’re in the SEC. Kentucky 31, Missouri 21
McNeese at LSU: Once again, why? LSU 63, McNeese 14
Vanderbilt at Colorado State (-7): The Commodores are terrible. For whatever reason, they aren’t ringing that bell very often at home or on the road. Colorado State 28, Vanderbilt 21