Arkansas flat out humbled Texas Tech 49-28 last year in Lubbock and Razorback head coach Bret Bielema apparently crowed about that during a Texas high school coaches clinic this summer.
That didn’t set well at all with Red Raiders head coach Kliff Kingsbury, the son of a Texas high school coach, and he got his revenge in a big way on Saturday night.
Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes was 26-of-30 passing for 315 yards and also rushed for 58 yards and two touchdowns while whipping Arkansas 35-24 before 73,334 fans at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
That was more than enough to offset Razorback junior tailback Alex Collins rushing for 170 yards in 26 carries and moved the No. 17 Red Raiders to 3-0.
“That is a program that prides itself on being physical,” Kingsbury said after the game. “At the Texas High School Coaches Convention this summer, he said 'if you don’t play with a fullback, we will kick your ass. If you throw it 70 times a game, we will kick you ass.'
“Well, he just got his ass kicked twice and probably next week by (Texas) A&M as well. So that did feel good.
“I'm a son of a Texas high school coach. And Texas high school coaches, probably 90 percent of them run the spread offense. So to walk in there and say those things, it definitely rubbed me the wrong way. But he's a prideful guy and he says what's on his mind. But it just hasn't worked out for him."
Bielema, whose team has lost two straight upsets after a season-opening win over UTEP, did not hear about Kingbury’s quotes before the end of his press conference.
He did have plenty to say about his own team’s performance.
“I wish I could say something to make everybody feel a little bit better - our fans and our players - but we are just not at the point where we can not play a perfect game and win,” Bielema said.
“We’ve just got to keep sawing wood, keep working of what we need to do, keep recruiting and keep getting our players better on a daily basis and hopefully good things will come.”
Bielema knows he, his staff and his players are going to hear about it this week from fans and media after losing to a second straight game to an underdog at home.
“The only stat that I believe in is the W and L,” Bielema said. “Unfortunately we have got two of them here back-to-back. The world all loves to hate and I prepared our guys to mind their own Ps and Qs tonight and just focus on the details we ask you to do.
“We are going to need everybody to go to Dallas next week and hopefully play a very good SEC team and hopefully represent ourselves well.”
Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen was 16-of-21 passing for 196 yards with touchdown passes to Drew Morgan of 24 yards and Hunter Henry of 7 yards.
But late in the game, Henry was called for offensive pass interference on what looked like another touchdown and then Allen under threw Jeremy Sprinkle on another potential score.
To add insult to injury, Cole Hedlund then missed a 37-yard field goal that left Arkansas down 35-24 with 8:09 left.
Bielema, whose team lost 16-12 to Toledo last week in Little Rock, seemed surprised his team didn’t play better.
“I thought our kids during the course of the week took the right attitude,” Bielema said. “We came in last Sunday, put that one to bed, learned from it and tried to take some things from the game that we had to improve.
“I thought during the course of the week they concentrated on that and we put in a lot of good preparation and came with the right frame of mind.”
Arkansas - who threw the ball 53 times last week - ran it 43 times against Texas Tech while passing it 21.
The Red Raiders had 486 yards total offense to the Razorbacks’ 424.
“Today, when you get in a game like that, I think there is a key element there - we have to stay with what we do offensively and I thought we kind of stuck to the plan, moved the ball, moved the chains, got some scores,” Bielema said.
“Last year we came up with some critical turnovers early in the first half and one at the end that kind of swayed that momentum and gave our offense a chance to get in front and kind of pound it out of them.
“We never really had that today. We had one turnover that we had that we converted to points, but never had the game changer. It seemed like every time we needed to make a play, we were just right there on the cusp.”
Bielema pointed to a Mahomes' scramble for a first down on a 3rd-and-11 play in the third quarter as a key point in the game when Tech was leading 28-24.
“I thought the third down scramble we had on 3rd and 11 when they got outside was a big play,” Bielema said. “That was probably the difference in the game, the quarterback being able to scramble and stay alive and make some positive yardage with his feet was the biggest difference in the game.
“There was a lot of positives. I thought our guys did some things. I am not going to try and justify anything, but I think we got better.
“I give a lot of credit to Texas Tech. They are a good football team and going to go out and win some football games.”
Mahomes put the visitors up 7-0 on a 3-yard pass to Reginald Davis, but Arkansas answered with Collins 1-yard scoring run to tie it 7-7 with 3:06 left in the opening quarter.
Mahomes had his own 1-yard touchdown run before the first quarter ended, but Allen connected with Henry to square it at 14-14 in the second quarter.
Jakeem Grant threw a 72-yard halfback pass to Reginald Davis later in the second quarter, but the Razorbacks answered again as Allen hit Morgan to tie it 21-21 at halftime.
Mahomes’ 2-yard touchdown run got Texas Tech ahead and then Arkansas blinked and got just Hedlund’s 22 yard field goal to get within 28-24 with two minutes left in the third quarter.
Justin Stockton’s 22-yard run with 13:09 left in the game surged the Red Raiders ahead 35-24.
“It’s disappointing because we worked and fought so hard, but didn’t get the results we wanted,” Collins said. “The only thing we can do is take the mistakes we made and correct them in order to perfect our game.
“We can’t dwell on it. If we continue to think about this game, we won’t get any better.”
Arkansas will indeed enter SEC play next with a 6 p.m. game against Texas A&M next Saturday at the Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium in Arlington Texas that will be televised by ESPN.
“We have nothing left in front of us, but nine games - our eight SEC games and one non-conference game. We have got to live this season as high. It is a chance to kind of wash the slate and let’s jump into A&M and take this game and learn from it.”
He also noted that he had talked with Dallas Cowboys owner and former Razorback Jerry Jones, who was on hand for the game.
“It was really kind of good for me to see Jerry Jones yesterday,” Bielema said. “He grabbed me and said ‘us more than anybody choose this profession and sometimes the ball doesn’t go your way and you have to bounce back and play the next game.’
“Kind of made me think about that last night then today, it didn’t go our way, but by no means am I disappointed in our guys. I didn’t see a lack of effort. There is a mountain to climb and we are not at the top.”
Arkansas lost yet another receiver when Jared Cornelius broke his arm after taking a pass 34 yards.
“Unfortunately we had a couple of critical injuries,” Bielema said. “You saw Kody Walker wasn’t able to go today. He broke his hand in las week’s game. He may be able to join us this week. I don’t know. We lost Kody during this week.
“Jared Cornelius broke his arm so he will be out an extended period of time. That’s three at key positions, really three of the top four or five wideouts.”
That - and along with injuries to wideouts Keon Hatcher and Cody Hollister - meant more time for sophomore Kendrick Edwards, redshirt freshman Jojo Robinson and junior college transfer Dominique Reed.
Bielema said, “A good sign was Kendrick and Jojo stepped in and Dominique Reed did some good things that I think we needed him to do to get ready for SEC play.”
Former Fayetteville High star Dre Greenlaw got his first start at weakside linebacker for Arkansas and had 9 tackles while Brooks Ellis moved to the middle and led the way with 12 and Rohan Gaines added 10.
“Dre Greenlaw was thrown into the fire in a game like today," Bielema said, "and hopefully he will learn from it and be that much better this week.”
Jared Cornelius broke his arm during the contest