Texas embarrassed 31-7 by Arkansas in Texas Bowl
HOUSTON (AP) — Texas has a long way to go to restore the program back to where it once was. The Longhorns’ performance in the Texas Bowl made that perfectly clear.
Brandon Allen threw for 160 yards and two scores as Arkansas rolled to an easy 31-7 win over Texas on Monday night, the Razorbacks’ first bowl appearance since 2011.
“At some point we’ve got to develop and get the pride back in this program,” first-year Longhorns coach Charlie Strong said. “Texas has got to mean something. Right now it doesn’t mean much.”
It was the first game between these former Southwest Conference rivals since 2008 and it ended a two-game skid in the series for Arkansas. The game was played in front of a sellout crowd that included Earl Campbell, who won the Heisman Trophy at Texas in 1977.
Arkansas (7-6) built a 24-7 lead by halftime and Jonathan Williams, who finished with 105 yards rushing, added a 1-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.
Texas (6-7) was smothered by Arkansas’ defense almost all night and finished with a season-low 59 total yards. It was the second straight lopsided bowl loss for the Longhorns, beaten 30-7 by Oregon in the Alamo Bowl last season.
Strong couldn’t believe how poorly his team played Monday night.
“You don’t ever expect to go get hammered 31-7 in a bowl game when you had a month to prepare,” he said.
The defeat came after a 48-10 loss to No. 6 TCU to end the regular season.
“You look at the TCU game and you look at this game and it’s not an indication of what this football team is and what this football team is all about,” Strong said. “For that to happen, it’s an embarrassment to the program that should never, ever happen within this program. We’ve got work to do and just have to do it.”
It’s the first time the Longhorns have finished with a losing record since they went 5-7 in 2010, a year after reaching the BCS championship game.
Tyrone Swoopes, hurried and harassed all night, finished 13 of 25 for 57 yards with an interception for Texas.
Strong said after the game that Swoopes would have to compete to retain his job next season.
The coach said it will be easy for the players who are returning next year to be motivated.
“I just think those guys don’t want to go out like this again,” he said. “Six and seven isn’t the standard at Texas and we all know that.”
The Longhorns had just 25 yards on offense in the fourth quarter before Swoopes went 5 for 6 for 34 yards on one drive. But just when things were looking up for Texas, Henre’ Tolliver intercepted a long pass by Swoopes and returned it 46 yards, and the Razorbacks ran out the clock.
These teams played for 60 straight years before the Razorbacks joined the SEC after the 1991 season. The Longhorns came in having won the last two games, including a 52-10 victory in 2008.
The touchdown run by Williams made it 31-7 early in the fourth quarter. Williams gained 5 yards on fourth-and-1 a play before the score to keep the drive going.
Texas couldn’t do anything offensively for most of the game, but things were particularly bad in the third quarter when the team lost 17 yards to enter the fourth with just 29 yards of total offense.
“We just didn’t execute,” Swoopes said.
The Longhorns had minus-1 yard passing before Swoopes completed four passes for 31 yards on a drive capped by his 9-yard touchdown run that cut the lead to 17-7 about four minutes before halftime.
Keon Hatcher was wide open in the end zone on a 5-yard pass from Allen that pushed the lead to 24-7 just before halftime.
A punt by Sam Irwin-Hill pinned the Longhorns at their own 4 in the second quarter. Johnathan Gray fumbled a bad handoff from Swoopes and the ball rolled into the end zone, where Taiwan Johnson pounced on it for a touchdown to make it 17-0 about 8 1/2 minutes before halftime.
Arkansas pushed the lead to 10-0 early in the second quarter when Allen, under heavy pressure, found Demetrius Wilson in the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown. Wilson got behind a defender to make the diving catch.
The Razorbacks took a 3-0 lead with a 32-yard field goal by Adam McFain with about five minutes left in the first quarter.