FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman and the Razorbacks will get a chance to make a statement on national TV in front of a sold-out stadium Saturday night when they face Texas.
Arkansas and Texas both won their openers last week. The Hogs defeated Rice 38-17 while Texas downed Louisiana 38-18. This is an old rivalry from the Southwest Conference.
“We’re really excited to play the University of Texas,” Pittman said. “I have great respect for their program. Excited SEC Nation is going to be here for the game and we’ll be on ESPN. So they have a wonderful team. A lot of skill on offense. A very good defense that runs hard to the ball. We certainly have our work cut out for us. But with that said we’re really excited for the game.”
Pittman shared some thoughts on the series between the two teams with his players this week.
“Well, we saw (Ken) Hatfield running down on the punt return against Texas,” Pittman said. “We talked about the ’64 national championship team. We talked about the rivalry with us wining 14 Southwest Conference championships and Texas had more than that. Just what it means to my age of people in the state of Arkansas. It’s a big deal for us, so we educated them throughout that. Some of the guys that played in the game are guys that people know now, so it was exciting to be able to tell the history.”
Though Texas has a commanding 56-22 advantage in the series, Arkansas is actually 3-2 against them since joining the SEC. The last time the two teams played was the 2014 Texas Bowl with the Hogs taking a 31-7 blowout win. Pittman thinks his players have gotten an idea what this game means to the state of Arkansas.
“You know, I think a little bit because Joe Foucha was talking about, ‘We need to perform well and do a good job for the state of Arkansas,’” Pittman said. “And he’s not from here. So I think they understand what it means to our fans. And certainly it’s standing room only Saturday night. And we haven’t had that in a while around here, so I think our kids understand it. I really do.”
Pittman has had fans explaining to him their memories and what this game means as well.
“Yeah. Just about anybody that’s over 30 years old it seems like,” Pittman said. “I got beat up a little bit in the media because they asked, ‘Who’s your biggest rivalry?’ And I said, ‘In the state of Arkansas, it’s still Texas.’ Everybody was like, ‘Well, you don’t play any more.’ Certainly in the future we’re going to and certainly Saturday we do. But yeah, it’s been that way all the time. All the old wives tales and all those things about you couldn’t get gas if you had an Arkansas license plate and the game was in Austin and all those things. It’s really exciting. To be honest with you, it’s what college football’s all about. If there weren’t any rivalries, it wouldn’t be any fun. I certainly have talked to everybody from about the age of 30 on and it’s Texas.”
The teams will be on ESPN and kickoff at 6 p.m. Saturday night in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.