FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas defeated Rice 38-17 on Saturday in Fayetteville while Texas downed Louisiana 38-18.
The two teams will meet on Saturday night at 6 p.m. in Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Texas is an early six-point favorite over the team they dominated when both were in the Southwest Conference. Texas owns a 56-22 all-time record against the Hogs.
The last meeting was much better for the Hogs when they beat the Longhorns 31-7 in the Texas Bowl following the 2014 season. Sam Pittman was the offensive line coach then for Arkansas and has fond memories of that game.
“I remember the atmosphere to be honest with you,” Pittman said. “I remember getting off the bus before the game and it felt like you were at the Cotton Bowl. It felt like you were at the Sugar Bowl. As a matter of fact, a few years later (at) Georgia, we went to the Sugar Bowl and I didn’t feel like the atmosphere was as good that day as it was when we played Texas in the Texas Bowl. It was a dynamic atmosphere. As a matter of fact, I remember getting off the bus and going ‘wow.’ The crowd was electric the entire night.”
This time Pittman is Arkansas’ head coach and the game will be before a sold-out stadium in Fayetteville.
“We’re really excited to play Texas,” Pittman said. “I know the fans are excited. A lot of history there between the two teams, and our kids will be educated on the history. They need to be. So, we’re really excited to have the crowd in here. We’re excited to get better this week at practice, and we will. Ready for a big, big crowd on ESPN.”
Steve Sarkisian is the new head coach at Texas. The Hogs faced him in the final game of the 2020 season when he was the offensive coordinator at Alabama.
“He got Louisiana on an unbalanced 12 set,” Pittman said. “Flipped them back over to the field. They didn’t make an adjustment on defense, and 5, (Bijan) Robinson, was wide open. They tossed the ball to him, and he had an easy catch for a touchdown. So, he’s still doing those type of things. Very, very strong schematic guy. He uses his talent, and he has talent. A lot of talent at the skill positions, and I think his running back is really, really special. He also returns punts, had one called back Saturday. Also returns kickoffs. He has more than just Robinson, but Robinson is special.”
Pittman and his staff have obviously watched that Alabama game, but Pittman is skeptical of how much Sarkisian showed that day.
“Yeah, we certainly have looked at it, you know,” Pittman said. “We’d be a fool if we didn’t. But we certainly have looked at it. At that point, he may have been a little conservative than what they normally would be. It was the last game of the year, they’re trying not to get anybody hurt, they’re going into the SEC Championship Game. All those things, so I think he may have played us a little bit conservative over what we saw on film from previous games of his. I think the guy, the man, is as good an offensive coordinator as there is in the country. I’ve thought that for a long, long time. Again, I’ve never met him, but I’ve said it before; I think the national championship game he called, and then you go back and look at the way he called the game on Saturday, he’s a phenomenal offensive mind. But we have used that Alabama and Alabama from last year. We went back and watched certainly all the games from last year, as well.”
On Saturday, Hudson Card completed 14 of 21 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns. Bijan Robinson rushed 20 times for 103 yards and a touchdown. Robinson rushed caught four passes for 73 yards and a touchdown.
“I like Card,” Pittman said. “I like him a lot because he’s got enough mobility to hurt you. Especially early in the Louisiana game, he hurt them with his feet. He certainly can throw the football. He looks like a really, really fine player with good touch on the ball. He’s commanding that offense. He understands all the checks and things of that nature. He runs the offense well. Robinson is hard to tackle. He has elusiveness as far as in space, but he also runs over you. He’s got a lot of speed. I just really like him. I think there’s a reason they have him returning kickoffs because he’s fast and hard to bring down and certainly punts as well, but I’ve never seen a guy recently that was your starting tailback that was also your starting punt returner that was also your starting kickoff returner. So, they obviously think over there about him what I do. He’s a special, special player.”
Arkansas will return to the practice fields later today.