As the fans clad in red and white stormed the field on Saturday night in Fayetteville, Arkansas AD Hunter Yurachek soaked in the moment. It had been a long time coming, as most Razorback fans would tell you. They had been waiting for that statement, that all the hard work they’d put in had finally paid off. The crowd was there for all four quarters and then some, which ended up costing the Razorbacks $100,000 dollars after the fans took their excitement to the field. But, in that moment, none of that mattered. Sam Pittman had just delivered the best moment the Razorbacks had had in years, and they weren’t going to keep them off the field Saturday night.
Texas came storming into Fayetteville looking to expand upon the “We’re Back” proclamation that usually resurfaces after the Longhorns have any kind of decent win. It has become a running joke nowadays. But it was different this time around, as Steve Sarkisian was looking to get a head start on SEC recruiting by beating up on Arkansas in primetime. But what the Horns didn’t expect was a group of players who had completely bought into their head coach, who seems to have his finger on the pulse of the fanbase as well.
The Razorbacks never trailed in the game, and they held the Texas offense scoreless until the third quarter. Honestly, who saw that coming? But after rushing for over 300 yards against the Texas defense, the Pittman philosophy of grind them into the ground was on full display. Don’t forget what KJ Jefferson did as well. The starting quarterback showed he could play and that he could rely on the talent surrounding him. He didn’t have to be flashy, he just needed to control the game, which is what he did, on the ground and through the air.
As the fans did their “Call the Hogs” chant — numerous times, by the way — it felt like a warning sign to other teams in the conference. Not that the Razorbacks are some world beater now, but that they’ve figured out how they need to play football to be successful. On Monday, Arkansas jumped into the AP poll for the first time since 2016, coming in at No. 20, which Sam Pittman thought was the right move.
“I think we’re a top 25 team, and I’m proud that we are. I’m not afraid to be ranked 20, 24, 1, whatever it may be. Those polls don’t mean a lot at this time, but to say I don’t think we deserve to be in the top 25 … I do. I think we deserve to be there. I’m proud that we are, and I don’t think it will affect the way we play.”
It’s not like Arkansas hasn’t made noise in the last few years. It’s just that the noise was so much louder on Saturday night. This was a team that upset Mississippi St. last season, then gave Auburn everything they wanted and more the week after. The Aggies of Texas A&M also definitely remember their fight with the Razorbacks last season. So, Sam Pittman is doing the small things that the administration and the fanbase hope will turn into big things.
Taking the life out of the Longhorns was the first step for the 2021 season, but there’s another big game on the horizon. If the Razorbacks can take care of Georgia Southern, which they should, it will setup a massive game in Dallas against Texas A&M, giving Arkansas another shot at making a statement to the league. The Hogs are -23.5 favorites over the Eagles, according to Fanduel.com
But those games are weeks ahead. Let’s get back to Saturday night, as Arkansas fans rushed the field and celebrated the win over Texas. It was Sam Pittman watching the party begin, which didn’t end till around 4:30 am at his house. As he looked upon the crowd takeover the stadium, he only had one thing to say about the moment.
“Ain’t that something? Good for them. It’s just such a coaching staff and what a great group of kids. They played their tails off, and they were well prepared. I’m just so happy for the kids and state of Arkansas.”
It’s early, but watch out for the Hogs. They’re already hunting.