Arkansas provided one of the biggest upsets of the early season on Saturday night when it throttled No. 15 Texas 40-21 in front of a hostile crowd in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Razorbacks ran over, around and through the overmatched Longhorns defense to the tune of 340 yards rushing, demoralizing a team that will be joining the SEC in 2025 (or sooner).
The Hogs' rushing attack was as varied as it was effective: running back Trelon Smith had 75 yards, AJ Green ripped off 67, Raheim Sanders added 50, Dominique Johnson provided 44, and quarterback KJ Jefferson pounded his way to 73 yards in a punishing display of physicality by the Hogs. Four different Razorbacks found the end zone on the ground while averaging 7.1 yards per play as a unit.
Texas, on the other hand, never really got going. It didn't find the red zone in the first half, which sent the Horns into a 16-0 hole headed into the locker room at halftime. Freshman quarterback Hudson Card made his second career start and completed just 8-of-15 passes for 61 yards. He was replaced by Casey Thompson early in the fourth quarter, who at least made it respectable by leading scoring drives on all three of his fourth-quarter possessions.
Here are the top takeaways from the romp in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
1. Watch out for those Hogs
One thing popped into my head throughout the course of this game: it looked like the good ole' days with Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. It didn't matter who got the ball, it was bound to succeed. The Hogs averaged a whopping 7.1 yards per rush against a defense that, at least in theory, is supposed to be able to hang with other Power Five teams.
SEC opponents should take notice. Texas knew what was coming and simply couldn't stop it. It's fair to say SEC defenses are, in general, comparable or better than most in terms of defensive team talent and coaching acumen. But Arkansas proved that it can throw haymakers, body blows, jabs and just about every other punch in the arsenal.
2. Sark's quarterback competition
Card won the quarterback competition coming out of preseason camp, but Texas coach Steve Sarkisian needs to rethink his decision. Card is supposed to be a steady, consistent passer, but was anything but that on Saturday. He missed two wide open receivers on fly routes in the third quarter that would have been sure-fire scores.
Thompson, on the other hand, was money. He led touchdown drives on his first two series of the game, threw for 57 yards in just over a quarter of play, and rushed for 44 yards and two scores. If Texas isn't going to be able to stretch the field consistently, it might as well be more dynamic in the running game.
Texas plays Rice next week. If Sarkisian doesn't make it an open audition for his two quarterbacks, he's just being stubborn at this point.
3. Jefferson isn't a liability
The dual-threat quarterback for the Razorbacks didn't exactly impress last week vs. Rice. He looked erratic in the pocket, didn't read coverages well and was a big reason why the game was much closer through three quarters than it should have been.
That wasn't the case on Saturday. The passing numbers were similar, but anybody who watched him vs. Texas could see that he was in total control of the game through the air. He made smart decisions and did more than enough to keep Texas' defense honest in the first half.
4. Barry Odom is a wizard
Look, Texas' offense was a mess due in large part to Card, but Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom deserves a ton of credit for this win. His unit allowed just 256 total yards at four yards per play and had 11 tackles for loss in a defensive performance for the ages.
This is what Odom does. Simply put, he coached circles around Sarkisian, who is widely known as one of the top offensive minds in the game. Card was rattled all night, star running back Bijan Robinson never got cooking and Texas converted just 2-of-10 on third-down attempts in first three quarters.
Teams have to run the ball and play defense to win at a high level, and Arkansas did exactly that on Saturday night.