The game notes that the Texas football program produced in the aftermath of the ambush its football program sustained on Saturday night are quite the piece of work.
Up high, in the left hand corner, we see the following stats showcased:
Talk about cherry picking.
What the Longhorns’ official stats fail to mention is the degree to which the Texas vs Arkansas series has recently shifted in Arkansas’ favor.
One relevant data point, for instance, is that Arkansas has won five of the last seven meetings. Yes, that stretch includes a 42-point defeat to the Longhorns in 2008, but it also includes three Razorback routs — including Saturday night’s 40-21 victory in front of a sellout home crowd that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.
Arkansas football coach Sam Pittman knows it’s the biggest win in his Arkansas tenure so far, one that will raise expectations for his program going forward.
“That was one hell of a job,” Pittman told his jubilant players in the below video.
“What you did is you made history, and what you did is you make the people in Arkansas who believed in you… come back” in future weeks.
“They know Sunday morning when they get up to go to church or get up to go to the Waffle House or whatever they want to do, you have given them an opportunity to be proud of the damn Arkansas Razorbacks.”
For Razorback fans, Arkansas’ dominance on Saturday night is a sign that the Hogs could be on the cusp of a special season in Pittman’s second year.
But to Texas analysts and followers of college football, the loss hammers home how vastly underachieving the Longhorns program remains.
No number of all-time series stats that the Texas sports information office produces can overcome the fact that Texas hasn’t won a conference title in the very average Big 12 since 2009.
Or that the program has won only 55% of its games since 2014.
Expect that percentage to dip going forward.
“Texas got completely out-played, out-classed, out-executed, out-coached, out-everything by a Razorbacks squad that won three games last season and will likely finish at — or below — .500 this year,” Burnt Orange Nation’s Cody Daniel wrote.
“Nearly any way you slice it, this was an embarrassing loss for Sarkisian’s Longhorns.” (Indeed, Daniel deems the loss as Texas’ worst since falling to Kansas in 2016.)
If Texas is having so many problems living up to its outsized expectations in the middling Big 12, how can it expect to compete in the SEC when it joins alongside Oklahoma in a few years?
In its present state, it can’t. The Arkansas loss confirmed that.
That’s how Cody Daniel sees it: “Texas isn’t SEC ready just yet.”
It’s also the verdict from 247Sports college football writer Brandon Marcello:
“Texas’ mantra might be all gas but the Longhorns should hit the brakes,” he wrote. “A hasty departure for the SEC before its contract with the Big 12 expires in 2024 might not be wise. It’s clear these Longhorns are not ready for heavyweight fights in the southeast.”
“Life comes at you fast in the SEC. Texas’ first taste of that SEC life against former SWC rival Arkansas? Well, the Longhorns bit off more pork than they could chew.”
That leads us to perhaps the most cutting of all observations to come from a national media outlet member in the aftermath of Texas vs Arkansas.
Below is Michael Tomasky, editor of The National Republic, point blank says that Texas as a program is full of B.S.:
It seems the Longhorns keep suffering from Texas-sized delusions of grandeur despite so many consecutive years of mediocrity.
In theory, at some point, the program’s players, coaches and fans will be humbled. Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson even said of the Razorbacks: “I give them credit for what they did tonight. Not really surprised. I feel it humbled us for our next opponents.”
Arkansas, historically, knows it will never be as big as a team as a Texas — but it hangs it hat on making up for that with scrappiness and smarts.
After the Texas game, linebacker Hayden Henry said: “We’re not the biggest, baddest team in the SEC physically but we play really hard, we play really tough, we don’t back down from anybody.”
“We like competition, we like playing. So, yeah, I guess welcome to the SEC.”
We’ll see if Texas officially enters the SEC knowing it’s been cut down to size.
See Arkansas vs Texas highlights here:
Arkansas Football: SEC middleweight?
This early in the season, we’re still not sure how good Arkansas is or how bad Texas is.
That ignorance leads to some cognitive (or should I say hognitive) dissonance around the qualifications of both. For instance, one reason Michael Tomasky decided to step away from politics to unload on Texas football is because they lost to a “team predicted to finish toward the bottom of the SEC.”
Arkansas, however, is proving to be what many fans hoped it would be — significantly better than the cellar dweller program it was under Chad Morris.
Brandon Marcello has deemed the Razorbacks an “SEC middleweight” at this point, which I believe is accurate. Until Arkansas actually regularly takes down the likes of Florida, Georgia and Alabama, it has no claim to heavyweight status.
Even beating Texas A&M, at this point, wouldn’t propel them into that category given how much the Aggies have struggled so far this season.
But regaining the middleweight status Arkansas had in the early 2000s when it occasionally made the SEC championship game is in and of itself an accomplishment. And, don’t forget, it’s something Pittman’s program has achieved only 12 games into his tenure.
That’s a surprisingly quick return to conference mediocrity. Almost as surprising as the fact that Texas, year after year, can’t rise above its own version of the same.
Bijan Robinson on Arkansas:
“They gave us a hard time during the game, they brought a lot of pressure, they stacked the box most of the time and it was kind of hard for us to execute on some of the plays that we ran, but I feel that we need some of these games to understand what we have to learn from it.”
“I give that defense credit for understanding their assignment and executing it well and trying to stop the run and trying to stop, you know, bring pressure because it was hard for us to stop tonight.
Sam Pittman on Arkansas Defense:
“Our linebackers, really good players. Barry [Odom] had the idea to go back to our three-man front for the most part. He was multiple tonight, but for the most part in a three-man front going back from last year. It felt like we could stop the run that way. We had so much respect for Robinson and still do obviously, but that’s the way that Coach thought he could win the game on defense, and our team bought into that. Certainly the first half, well the entire game, they played outstanding, but the first half they just set the tone completely for the game.
Sam Pittman on Arkansas Running Game
New offensive line “coach [Cody] Kennedy comes in June the 4th or whatever it was, and we rushed for 333 yards, averaged seven-plus yards a carry. He’s got some really hard-working kids. They took a lot of heat in the past and will I’m sure some in the future, it’s part of nature.”
“But the way they played tonight to rush for 333 on a good Texas squad was outstanding, and Beaux Limmer was part of that as well. He’s played a lot of ball too, but we had the five starters back from last year and Beaux, and they need credit.”
“I don’t think they gave up a sack tonight either. They came to play. I’m really proud of them.”
On running backs: “They’re reading their first read, and where we were slower before, they’re reading their first read [faster], and then two. If it’s closed, they go to three. They’re hitting it fast. They’re really helping our linemen with the way that they’re hitting holes.”
“People say, ‘Well, that’s easy to do.’ Well, it’s not really when you’re a zone-type scheme and you’ve got to read, read, read, read, and make the right read, just like a quarterback has to on a defensive end.”