Arkansas head coach Fred Bielema did not need to remind his Razorbacks that entering Monday night’s prime time Texas Advocare V100 Bowl that the University of Texas held a 56-21 edge in the storied rivalry or that Texas had convincingly won the last two meetings between the two team. He didn’t need to tell his team that Texas was undefeated at NRG Stadium. Why? Because this was a team that had been taught to respect the past and represent the future and when junior quarterback Brandon Allen took the knee in the victory formation at 11:20PM that’s exactly what the Razorbacks had done. Arkansas hogtied the Longhorns 31-7 before a record setting crowd of 71,197 frenzied football fans.
“Tonight didn’t happen by chance,” said Bielema explained one happy head coach.. “I had a feeling that this was very, very special. When we got off that bus today and did that Hog Walk, it was a frenzy.”
Allen led a complete dismantling of the storied program known as UT. The MVP had completed 12 of 23 for 160 yards and two scores. His arm backed up the rushing attack of Jonathon Williams and Alex Collins who combined for 187 yards on 40 carries and one score.
Arkansas drew first blood with an Adam McFain 32 yard field goal late in the first quarter. It was an opening quarter that gave a precursor of things to come. The Hogs racked up 87 yards of offense to the Longhorns 17.
Forty five seconds into the second quarter, Arkansas struck again. Allen split the double coverage to find senior wide receiver Demetrius Wilson in the back of the endzone for a 36 yard scoring strike. It was just the second career touchdown for Wilson and his first since November 10, 2012. The Razorbacks had silenced the crowd.
Five minutes later, punter Sam Irwin-Hill and Wilson shined the light on special teams pinning Texas at its own four yard line. The Longhorns succumbed to the pressure as quarterback Tyrone Swoopes and Jonathon Gray mishandled the hand off giving Arkansas defensive tackle Taiwan Johnson his first career fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Down 17-0, Texas put together their best drive of the night. Swoopes engineered an 8 play 44 yard scoring drive to cut the lead to ten. The UT sophomore signal caller from Whiteright, Texas took it the final nine yards.
Arkansas answered back driving 61 yards on nine plays culminating in Allen’s second touchdown throw of the night. This time the Advocare Bowl MVP connected with wide receiver Keon Hatcher for a five yard scoring play and a 24-7 lead. It was the third straight game that Hatcher had at least one scoring reception.
The defense closed out the opening half behind senior Trey Flowers 19 yard sack of Swoopes. The 270 pound defensive end finished the night with 5 tackles, two of which for losses and moved into second place on the school’s all-time tackles for loss chart passing former Razorback Henry Ford.
“To go through what we’ve been through and come back around and pull this program back together and beat Texas,” said Flowers following the Razorbacks first bowl win since 2011. “It couldn’t have been set up any better,”
Williams scored Arkansas’ lone touchdown of the second half with a one yard scoring plunge. The 223 pound junior running back capped off a 13 play drive that consumed 8:39 off the game clock.
Bielema’s squad played a near perfect game. The Razorbacks out rushed Texas 191 – 2 and out passed them 160 – 57.
Arkansas (7-6) recorded its first winning season since 2011.
The Longhorns fell to 6-7 in disappoint season finale.
“You would have thought we would have come out better prepared,” Strong said in dejected fashion following the loss.. “You don’t expect to go out there and get hammered 31-7 when you’ve had a month to prepare. The name Texas used to mean something. Right now it doesn’t mean much. What happened was an embarrassment to this program. We have a long ways to go.”