top of page
Untitled design (47)_edited.jpg

Arkansas - Texas: A Rivalry Renewed


Arkansas Razorbacks
© Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

As the powerhouse schools in the college game appear to be greedily soaking up national television rights and more funding for their athletic departments, many great rivalries have met their demise because of conference realignment.


While many of the traditional rivalry games have been wiped from the college football schedule, one great rivalry now has a chance to be reborn from the ashes of the old Southwestern Conference thanks to realignment. For the first time in more than 30 years, the Arkansas Razorbacks and Texas Longhorns will play in the same conference with the Longhorns joining the Southeastern Conference in 2024.


The Longhorns are fresh off their first College Football Playoff appearance, while the Hogs are fighting desperately to return to college football prominence.




Both charter members of the SWC, the Razorbacks and Longhorns began their conference rivalry in 1915, facing each other annually (excluding the 1920-27 seasons) until Arkansas left for the SEC beginning in 1992. The two teams have met just six times since 2000 and last played against each other in 2021.


Arkansas will officially welcome Texas to the SEC and renew the rivalry on Nov. 6 when the Razorbacks welcome the Longhorns to Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Ark.


Before a new chapter is written this fall, let's revisit five impactful games in the series history.


 

Oct. 17, 1964: No. 9 Arkansas 14, No. 1 Texas 13 'Hatfield Sends Arkansas to Hog Heaven'


The year prior, Texas won their first claimed national championship after beating Roger Staubach and Navy in the 1963 Cotton Bowl. Arkansas finished fourth in the conference with a 5-5 record. 


When the No. 9-ranked Razorbacks came to Austin in '64 they were unbeaten, as were the No. 1 Longhorns, who had won 15 straight. Gridlocked for most of the first half of play, the teams traded punts until Ken Hatfield took one 81 yards to the house, giving the Hogs a 7-0 lead after the extra point. 



Texas would respond early in the fourth quarter with a 2-yard dive from Phil Harris. The undeterred Razorbacks would reclaim the lead with 6:43 to go in the fourth after a clutch third down pass from Freddie Marshall to Bobby Crockett left the Arkansas end open enough to take it to paydirt from the Texas 34. 


Up 14-7, the Razorbacks were trying to keep the hungry Longhorns out of the endzone but failed after fullback Ernie Koy ran past the goal line from the 1. Longhorn coach Darrell K. Royal opted against playing for a tie and kept his kicker on the bench. He called a pass, but the Longhorns two-point attempt faltered, and the Razorbacks kneeled their way to victory.


Arkansas would continue their winning ways in 1964, remaining unbeaten and finishing their season with a win over Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl. That win would clinch the Razorbacks lone national title. 


 

Dec. 6, 1969: No. 1 Texas 15, No. 2 Arkansas 14 'The Game of the Century'


Celebrating college football’s centennial in 1969, television syndicates recognized the grip sports had on the American public, most notably in the South. Arkansas and Texas had been two of the winningest schools of the decade. Their game would hold national title implications. Once again, both teams had not lost that season and were on long winning streaks. 


The typical October matchup was moved to December to appease ABC executives who had to cozy up to Arkansas coach Frank Broyles with promises of televised season debuts the next year and the installation of AstroTurf at Razorback Stadium. ABC also promised the attendance of President Richard Nixon.


Arkansas took advantage of turnovers from fumble recoveries in the first half, putting them up 14-0 at the start of the third quarter. Bill Burnette took a handoff at the goal line for the first score and then Bill Montgomery hit Chuck Dicus for a 29-yard strike for the second touchdown.


Down 14 points, the Longhorns retaliated on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter. Texas’ James Street evaded the rush and ran one in to inch the Horns closer. Royal called a play on their first point after a touchdown attempt, and Texas came up clutch. 



Hogs and Horns
© Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports


Now down 14-8, Texas defensive back Danny Lester intercepted Montgomery in the end zone after a long Razorback drive. With the clock ticking a fourth down gamble by Texas resulted in a 44-yard bomb from Street to end Randy Peschel. Texas converted the game-tying score two plays later. The Horns converted the kick and picked off another Montgomery pass to seal the 15-14 win.


After beating Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl, Texas would finish its season 11-0, claiming another national championship. The Hogs finished 9-2 after losing in the Sugar Bowl to Archie Manning and the Ole Miss Rebels. 


The Longhorns would have to wait 64 years until they beat another top three team on the road. It came last season after the Longhorns handled the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.


 

Oct. 17, 1981: Arkansas 42, No. 1 Texas 11 'Arkansas Topples Top-Ranked Texas'


Arkansas was 4-1 and unranked due to an ugly loss to Texas Christian University earlier that season. Texas had been the nation's consensus No. 1 team before the game. The Razorbacks had lost to TCU for the first time since 1958 in Fort Worth, Texas, two weeks prior. Arkansas coach Lou Holtz was 1-4 against their biggest rival and the pressure was immense. 


The Razorbacks jumped out to an early lead thanks to a fumble recovery and quick conversion of a 1-yard score from quarterback Tom Jones. Texas struggled and gave the ball back to the Hogs. The rattled Longhorns would not recover. After a safety via a bad punt snap, Arkansas was up 15-0 after tailback Gary Anderson squeaked past defenders for a 5-yard touchdown run. 


Texas had yet to convert a first down. The two squads dueled for field goals for a couple of drives, and then Anderson reeled in a 19-yard toss from Jones just before the end of the first half. 


The lead would grow to 42-3 after two more Razorback rushing scores from Jones and running back Darryl Bowles. The uninspired Longhorns would only score once more after an 8-yard connection from Robert Brewer to Donnie Little.


The Razorbacks ultimately derailed the Longhorn’s title hopes that day. Texas would win nine games, tie with Houston and win the Cotton Bowl against Alabama. The victory in Fayetteville was the Razorbacks first over Texas at home in 16 years. Arkansas suffered two more conference losses in 1981 and failed to beat North Carolina in the Gator Bowl. 




 

Oct. 17, 1987: Texas 16, No. 15 Arkansas 14 'Jones Jolts Longshot Longhorns'


The 1987 matchup saw the Longhorns licking their wounds after a less-than-stellar start to the season after humiliating losses to No. 5 Auburn and No. 1 Oklahoma. Arkansas was 4-1 after dropping a game to  No. 3 Miami and reeling off back-to-back conference wins convincingly.


Longhorn running back Eric Metcalf scored first for the Longhorns after the Texas defense secured an interception and went up 7-0 at the end of the first quarter. Arkansas would respond with two touchdowns off sustained drives where running back Barry Foster would score from 11 yards out, and quarterback Greg Thomas scrambled 8 yards for a touchdown. 





Texas would not respond until midway through the third quarter with a Wayne Clements field goal. Down 14-10 with only 1:48 to go in the game, Texas took control of the ball and quickly moved down the field to the Razorback 18-yard line in 10 plays. Then 5-foot-7-inch Tony Jones snagged a pass in the end zone from Bret Stafford as time ran out. Jones held on to the pass despite being leveled by future NFL Hall of Fame safety Steve Atwater. It was only the second scoring toss for Stafford on the season. 


Arkansas suffered a heartbreaking loss at home but still had a winning record to end the season, finishing 9-4 after a loss to Georgia in the Liberty Bowl. Texas finished 1987 at 6-5 after a narrow 32-27 victory against Pittsburgh in the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl.


 

Sept. 11, 2021: Arkansas 40, No. 15 Texas 19

'Welcome to the SEC'


This game was the first meeting between the former conference foes since the 2014 Texas Bowl. The 2021 Razorbacks were foaming at the mouth to vault themselves out of the SEC cellar due to two consecutive 2-10 seasons in 2018 and 2019 and a 3-7 campaign in the shortened 2020 season. Second-year coach Sam Pittman reinvigorated the program with a more traditional blue-collar identity. Texas came into 2021 ranked in the Top 25 and were eager to promptly put an end to any rumors of a supposed decline in program performance.


The game was barely as close as the score might suggest. The Razorbacks jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter after a field goal from Cam Little. The Hogs came alive in the second quarter with a 5-yard run from Dominique Johnson and Little added two more field goals.



Arkansas took a 16-0 lead into the half. The Longhorns offense had barely made it past midfield, converting only two first downs and losing possession on a crucial blocked punt deep in their own territory.




Hogs and Horns
© Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports


Coming out of halftime, Texas stole a little momentum by snagging an interception and quickly adding points with a 1-yard run from Bijan Robinson. However, Arkansas quickly retaliated and went back up two possessions to make the score 22-7. Little added another field goal with two minutes in the third quarter and the Hogs scored a touchdown after recovering a Longhorn fumble thanks to a one-play drive capped off by a 26-yard stroll into the end zone from Rocket Sanders. 


Now at 33-7 and a whole quarter left to play, Texas would sustain two long drives, and journeyman transfer QB Casey Thompson would add two scores with his legs. Arkansas would end up rubbing salt in the burnt orange wounds with another smashmouth scoring drive that ended in a 30-yard touchdown run from A.J. Green. 


Arkansas rushed for 333 yards that day and held the Longhorns to 256 yards of total offense. Fans flooded the field at Razorback Stadium as an exorcism of demons that had reared their ugly heads around the Arkansas football program in the previous seasons had finally concluded. Arkansas finished the 2021 slate with their highest win total in a decade at 9-4 and went on to win the Outback Bowl against Penn State. Texas would finish at a rocky 5-7 in coach Steve Sarkisian’s first year.


 

Sept. 27, 2008: No. 7 Texas, Arkansas 7

'McCoy Stands Tall' (Honorable Mention)


Heisman hopeful quarterback Colt McCoy threw three touchdown passes and added two more on the ground. The Razorbacks were defensively helpless as their lone score came from a lengthy fumble return. McCoy and Texas beat the Razorbacks down with a balanced attack from whistle to whistle. McCoy threw for 185 yards and completed 89 percent of his passes on the day. 


Due to a hurricane threatening the Gulf of Mexico, the game had been postponed two weeks from its original date. Coach Bobby Petrino, the Razorbacks' former bearer of program doom turned prodigal son, was in his first year at Arkansas. He probably wished that the game had been postponed even further. 


The game was a foreshadowing of the season’s results for both teams. Texas finished 2008 at 12-1 and won the Fiesta Bowl, while the Razorbacks would miss bowl play with a 5-7 record.



Hogs and Horns
© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

 

Arlansas - Texas Rivalry Renewed


The Longhorns lead the series, 56-23, having strung together lengthy winning streaks before World War II throughout the 1940s and in the 1970s. With so many other fish in the state of Texas’s college football pond, the Longhorns likely have not considered the Razorbacks a rival since the death of the SWC. 


Yet, since the Razorbacks joined the SEC, they have won four of the last six, including a bowl win in 2014. If you meander through the Ozarks or down in the Mississippi Delta, older fans will still tell you that the sight of burnt orange is enough to ruin families and relationships. Hate still has a place in this rivalry and many Razorback fans hope to keep up their trend of recent dominance in the series. 





While the heyday of this rivalry peaked in the late 60s, there is still potential for more instant classics to unfold as Texas and their favorite foe, Oklahoma, start SEC play in the fall.




Comments


Untitled design (54).png
bottom of page