It’s early Tuesday morning, and the state of Arkansas is awash in an afterglow the likes of which can’t be explained to outsiders.
In the aftermath of one of Arkansas’ biggest bowl wins, measured certainly by personal satisfaction but also in the forward momentum it creates, let’s review some take-aways from the Hogs’ 31-7 rout of the hated Texas Longhorns Monday night in the 2014 Texas Bowl:
- We beat Texas 31-7 and the score doesn’t reflect the severity of the beatdown delivered. Really, not even close. It could've, should've, been worse.
- We held ‘em to 59 yards of total offense, a net of just 2 on the ground, with half of that total allowed on a mop-up drive late in the 4th.
- We, um, dominated TOP: 41-19. Yikes.
- We did it in front of a packed house in the Monday Night Football slot on ESPN where Hog fans represented well on what could’ve been de facto Texas home turf.
- We won three of our last four to finish 7-6 in easily the nation’s toughest division and finally put to rest two years of Petrino-induced purgatory.
- We provided our brand with a boost so significant it may be years before we can fully appreciate the impact.
- And again, just because…We. Whooped. Texas.
The consensus storyline heading into Monday night’s game included the similarities of two rebuilding 6-6 teams. But records aside, I didn’t see a lot in common. Technically, both teams were "ascending" (the quotes necessary for Texas). Consecutive November wins over Texas Tech, West Virginia and Okie State got UT to bowl eligibility before TCU delivered a 48-10 Thanksgiving whipping in Austin.
Likewise, the Hogs dropped their final regular season game after a couple of big November wins. That’s really where any similarities end. We shut out top 15 LSU and top 10 Ole Miss in back-to-back weeks only to surrender a 14-6 fourth-quarter lead in a 21-14 loss at Missouri.
Do we really need to compare and contrast our SEC West schedule with UT’s Big 12 run? In every conference game we played this year, we faced a ranked team, and in six of them the opponent was top 10.
And with that, folks, we blazed a new trail. What we shared in common with Texas going into Monday night was a 6-6 record, and that’s about it. In hindsight, the end result is about what we should’ve expected, which some did.
Steve Sullivan went on record Monday night with a 38-14 pick in favor of the Hogs, and many of the callers to The Buzz mid-day on Monday were picking a Razorback rout. (Still kicking myself for not making it down for the game, but being at home and absorbing the local build-up in person was nice.)
Me, well, we’re talking Texas, and I was hesitant to expect good things even if I believed us to be the better team. (I’ll say this: Playing UT in Texas is much preferable with ACC refs, even if they did miss an obvious hold on Swoopes’ TD run.)
Following our opening possession, in which Jim Chaney clearly got the cute out of his system, I figured we were in for a four-quarter affair. The D, however, exceeded expectations. It would have none of that. It's come so far, so fast, and young men like Trey Flowers and Martrell Spaight have etched their names into the annals of all-time Razorback greats. (Now, if we can just keep Philon for another year.)
The offense, that wonderfully exasperating yet clutch offense, was brilliant. Gawdy? No. It was Beliemic, a slow but steady steamroll sucking the life out of Bevo. The TD drive that answered UT’s lone score (gift wrapped by a sky kick with spotty coverage) was a thing of beauty that will forever, in my mind anyway, occupy a special place in Hog lore. It cemented the inevitable, and one could argue that the game was won right there.
In all three phases we dominated, and while it seems evident to me that Texas would’ve gone winless in the SEC West this year, Monday’s win was impressive nonetheless. A look at the stat sheet reveals as much.
Not sure what to expect out of Charlie Strong and his continued rebuilding project in Austin, but the Hogs…well, we’re trending up. 2015 will be among the most anticipated Razorback football seasons of the last 30 years.
But for now, back to basking. We’ve earned it, folks.
We. Beat. Texas. And we made ‘em look bad in the process. Those short, squat Texans wanted nothing to do with that Razorback Hog by the time we were taking Victory formation inside the 5.
No UT stigma, no mental gymnastics. Just execution...Satisfaction. We beat Texas in a bowl game. Soak it in.
Happy new year, Hog fans. Have a feeling it's gonna be a good one.