What Will Make The Difference?

FAYETTEVILLE -Loads of local schoolchildren wore special $5 T-shirts to school on Friday: "Beat Texas" they read.

John Daly, the No. 1 ESPN crew and Texans and Arkies who clashed in the classics of 1964 and 1969 toasted one another as tonight's Texas at Arkansas clash drew near.

In our restaurants, "Woo, Pig, Sooies!" have broken out for no apparent reason.

Students began camping out at Razorback Stadium at mid-week, preparing to Hog the best first-come, first-served seats.

Late Thursday night, Ultra Suede -a girl band whose members sport pink, green and blue hair -led a patio full of all kinds of folks in calling the Hogs.

Dickson Street sidewalks are chalk-ful of anti-Texas graffiti.

Hotel rooms and tickets are long-gone, yet desperate people still are searching for both. Several residents have even rented out space in their homes to some of the Hogs fans who have streamed into town the last couple of days.

As soon as Arkansas put the finishing touches on its eye-opening 63-13 win against New Mexico State last weekend, the Hogs were talking about Texas. Usually, players speak more about the game just played and soaking it in for a day or two.

But this is Texas.

For months, there had been a gag order on The Hill, strict orders not to talk about this.

The setting for it, the last Arkansas-Texas regular-season matchup for quite some time (UA Athletic Director Frank Broyles believes the series will resume in a decade or so), is absolutely perfect.

Or could be.

Sure, the No. 7 Longhorns are double-digit favorites (as they were a year ago when the Razorbacks stunned them 38-28 down in Austin) and probably few outside this area give unranked Arkansas a real shot.

Yeah, Texas - which walloped North Texas 65-0 in its opener -supposedly is tougher than last season's bunch that the Hogs shoved around. The Longhorns have tons more experience and their usual arsenal of serious weapons.

The Longhorns appear more motivated for the Hogs than in the past, the memories of Arkansas' on-field celebration of a year ago burning their senses.

Texas has dominated this series, but lost the last three to Arkansas, including two whopper wins for Hogs coach Houston Nutt against the Longhorns' Mack Brown. Both times, Texas had more talent.

Same thing this time around.

Word out of Austin (confirmed on film) is sophomore quarterback Vincent Young is about as dangerous as Arkansas senior Matt Jones and UT's Cedric Benson will be the best running back on the field.

Longhorns linebacker Derrick Johnson may be the country's best and leads a nasty, veteran group.

Arkansas, as usual against Texas, is a giant underHog. New offensive line, new secondary, new receivers.

But the Hogs seem new and improved and Nutt will throw everything he has -including caution to the wind -against Texas. Plus, you know Nutt will have his team revved to a frenzy.

Still, no chance in hell for Arkansas?

Actually a great chance if you make Razorback Stadium just that for the Longhorns, who have not been here since 1989 when No. 7 Texas beat unranked Arkansas 24-20.

You want Arkansas to be a major player, you need to make Razorback Stadium a major pain to opponents. You've had your moments, but for Arkansas to win, this must be your finest one.

Some 76,000 (counting about 4,000 UT fans for this first sellout) will be crammed into Razorback Stadium tonight and the 7:45 kickoff should give you ample time to warm up for the job as opposed to last season when in matchups like the one against No. 11 Florida, most of you got into the game way too late.

What Arkansas needs is a War Memorial Stadium atmosphere. It's no coincidence that the Hogs are undefeated there in the Nutt era and it has been home to the Hogs' biggest wins the last few seasons. Last time the Hogs beat a Top-10 team at home was the 10-7 win against No. 9 South Carolina in Little Rock in 2001.

Three years ago, Broyles and company built it (20,000 more seats), and tonight, you will come.

So will the Longhorns, and they'll strut into Razorback Stadium with chips on their shoulderpads.

Question is, what are you going to do about it?

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