IT's Arkansas Game Picks

IT's Bill Frisbie, Michael Pearle and Clendon Ross give you their picks, and the reasoning behind those picks, in Saturday's game between Texas and Arkansas.

IT Picks:

Frisbie -- I am ‘old school’ enough to relish the thought of the Arkansas Razorbacks in our stadium this Saturday, but realistic enough to have just a kernel of apprehension in that the primary thrust of Arkansas’ game plan plays toward Texas’ Achilles heel.

Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said this week that Texas’ strength are its offensive line and its running game. Say what? Is Nutt nuts? The cotangential is there to be a strength but not THE strength. The jury is still out on Texas’ offensive line this season, and one wonders if the youngsters can consistently pick up the Razorbacks’ relentless blitz package. Will QBs Chance Mock and Vince Young have ample opportunity to find the open receivers, even in single coverage? The Razorback defensive philosophy is that they will not.

Meanwhile, Texas’ run defense was uncharacteristically soft last season. The DTs will be tested early and often as Arkansas’ ball-control offense will pound the middle to soften the interior (especially trying to exploit the MLB spot as RS-freshman Brian Robison should make his first start in place of injured Garnet Smith).

Outside of the Kansas State and Oklahoma games, this will be the most physical contest Texas faces all year. And the Hogs will bring more intensity to the table than any non-conference opponent during Mack Brown’s six-year tenure.

"What I’ve told the players is that the state of Arkansas approaches this game like the state of Oklahoma approaches our Oklahoma game," Brown said. "That should be enough for us to understand the intensity they will have in this game."

I don’t expect Texas to rush for more than 150 yards (not unless Vince scrambles for half of it) and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Hogs dominated the time of possession and registered at least a half-dozen sacks in this one.

But this one has a Cotton Bowl feel to it (and I don’t mean the 2000 Cotton Bowl) in the sense that Arkansas could jump out early before learning the hard way what LSU discovered last January 1: you cannot cover SE Roy Williams one-on-one.

Just watch as Williams eventually breaks this one open. Roy only toyed with New Mexico State with his four grabs, but should jumpstart his Heisman campaign with a big day against a highly respectable opponent in a relatively high-profile game on ABC. His presence may not open the running lanes, but it could result in a big day for the tight ends as well as for FL B.J. Johnson.

If the QBs have time to throw, this one will be over in the third quarter. Regardless, these little Piggies will go woo!, woo!, woo! all the way home to the tune of another loss to hated Texas. Texas 30, Arkansas 17.

Pearle -- Back in August my wife and I took a little jaunt down to Port Aransas to catch some sun and surf. Hanging out at the pool one day we met some other couples and struck up a conversation. Turns out one of the guys had played for Arkansas back in the 70s and, in fact, he told me that he had the distinction of being the last high schooler recruited and signed by Frank Broyles. He also played for Lou Holtz in the 1978 Orange Bowl where the Pigs knocked off second-ranked OU 31-6 despite having three starters benched by Holtz. With his credentials firmly established, I naturally started talking ball with him and got his take on the upcoming Hogs-Horns tilt. When I asked him what he thought would happen in the game, to my surprise, he spared me the trash talk. Instead, he said he thought Texas would pound Arkansas by at least three TDs. Huh!? Obviously the guy didn’t think too highly of this year’s pack of Porkers. So based on that insider slant, I am taking Texas by about 17. Arkansas has some weapons in bruising RB Cedric Cobbs and some great athletes on defense like former Texas recruiting target CB Lawrence Richardson, so I expect this game to keep people nervous until deep into the second half. But with the home crowd behind them and their superior overall talent, the Horns will ultimately make Houston Nutt take his inverted Hook 'Em and ram it. Make it Texas 31, Arkansas 14.

Ross -- Last weekend, many of the teams that populate the upper reaches of poll land had a scare. Alabama took No. 1 Oklahoma to the wire. No. 2 Miami needed a near-miracle comeback to upend Florida. No. 3 Ohio State's extremely lucky not to be sittin' at 1-1 right now after squeaking by San Diego State. And No. 4 USC, after a dominating performance in its opener, allowed BYU to get a little too close for comfort in the fourth quarter before pulling away in the final minutes. Is No. 5 Texas next up for a scare, or God forbid, is it first on the list for an upset? I'm leaning towards an affirmative on the former and a negative on the latter. Arkansas will put a scare in the 84,000-plus in DKR Saturday because it will run, run, run at the middle of the Longhorn defense, a surprising soft spot given the abilities of DTs Marcus Tubbs and Rodrique Wright. Well, perhaps not that surprising given the Horns' linebacker play up the middle. The LBs -- actually, the entire speedy defense -- are great to the outside, but beware Cedric Cobbs between the tackles! To get the ball in the end zone consistently, though, the Hogs will have to go to the air, and I just don't see Arkansas beating the Texas defense, particularly on a short field, up top. So, the Pigs move the ball between the 20s fairly well, control time of possession, but will settle for field goal attempts rather than TDs all but once. The Texas offense, meanwhile, will turn in a similar performance to the opener: little success running (the Hogs, the devious swine that they are, will stack the line of scrimmage, and according to Mack Brown, that's the perennial reason the Texas running game can never seem to get on track), inconsistent overall but able to burn a gambling defense enough to put multiple six-pointers on the board. It won't be a thing of beauty, and it'll keep the Longhorn Nation on the edge of its seat until late in the game, but it'll be a W in the scorebook. Texas 26, Arkansas 19.


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