Texas Bowl Preview: Texas Longhorns to face Arkansas on Dec. 29 in Houston


(via TexasSports.com)

Texas and Arkansas will renew a Southwest Conference rivalry when the two teams meet in the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl on Dec. 29 in Houston. This will be the 78th meeting between the schools, including the second time in the postseason. Both teams played well down the stretch this year to reach bowl eligibility. Texas (6-6) won three of its last four games and Arkansas (6-6) was victorious in three of its last five contests, including a pair of shutouts. The game, which is sold out, will kick off at 8 p.m. Central and air nationally on ESPN. Longhorn Network airs a pregame show beginning at 6 p.m. The Longhorn IMG Radio Network broadcast, including flagship KVET (1300 AM/98.1 FM) in Austin, begins at 7 p.m. ESPN Radio will air a national broadcast.

Bowl History: Texas has a lengthy bowl resume. The Longhorns rank second all-time on the NCAA appearance list with 52, trailing only Alabama (60). UT, which has an all-time record of 27-23-2, has appeared in a bowl game in 19 of the last 21 years. That stretch includes a UT-record stretch of 12 straight appearances from 1998-2009, which bettered the previous mark of nine consecutive from 1977-85. The Horns have won nine of their last 12 bowl games. With a 24-21 victory over No. 10 Ohio State in the 2009 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Texas won bowl games in five consecutive years for the first time in school history (2004-08). The Horns did win five straight previously (1963-64, '66, '68-69), but the streak was interrupted by seasons that did not result in a bowl. The Longhorns have appeared in the Cotton Bowl 22 times, the most of any bowl game. They appeared in the Bluebonnet Bowl six times and the Holiday Bowl five.

The Arkansas Series: Texas and Arkansas, which played 60 straight times as Southwest Conference foes before the Razorbacks left for the SEC following the 1991 season, have met 77 times dating back to 1894. The Longhorns hold a 56-21 advantage. Arkansas has won three of the last five meetings, but Texas won the last two matchups - 22-20 in Fayetteville (2004) and 52-10 in Austin (2008). In 2003, the Hogs' 38-28 victory in Austin snapped a Texas 20-game home winning streak, its longest since a 42-game home victory string from 1968-76. UT has won six of the last 11 meetings. The Razorbacks won the lone postseason meeting, a 27-6 triumph in the 2000 Cotton Bowl. The Longhorns won the first 14 meetings and 27 of the first 32 contests between the two schools. The Horns 14-game winning streak from 1894-1932 is the longest in series history. The Horns also had a 12-game winning streak from 1939-50. Arkansas' longest win streak is a four-game stretch from 1935-38.

Arkansas Series Tidbits: Texas has outscored the Razorbacks 1,765-982 in the 77 previous meetings ... six of the last 11 games were decided by four points or less ... Texas and Arkansas have played 33 games that were decided by 10 points or fewer with the Longhorns holding a 21-12 advantage ... Texas owns a 35-9 mark in games decided by more than 10 points ... Texas' average margin of victory in the series is 18.5 points, while Arkansas' is 11.0 points ... there have been six games decided by one point in the series, with the teams splitting those contests three apiece ... there have been 17 shutouts in the series, with Texas winning 16 of those contests ... the Longhorns blanked Arkansas in 10 of the of the first 13 meetings in the series, including the first four ... the last shutout in the series came in 1957 with Texas claiming a 17-0 win.

Longhorn Bowl Notes:
• Texas will be facing an SEC team in a bowl for the first time since playing Alabama in the BCS Championship game following the 2009 season (37-21 loss). It will be the 20th bowl game matchup with an SEC opponent, with Texas holding a 11-7-1 record. Texas' most common SEC opponent is Alabama (4-1-1 record).

• This will be the second time Arkansas and Texas meet in a bowl game. The Razorbacks won the 2000 Cotton Bowl 27-6. Two members of the UT staff were on the sidelines. Tight ends coach Bruce Chambers was the UT running backs coach at the time and defensive backs coach/special teams coordinator Chris Vaughn was an Arkansas graduate assistant in 1999.

• Head coach Charlie Strong will be making his fifth appearance in a bowl game in five seasons as a head coach. Strong had a 3-1 bowl record at Louisville. He also served as interim head coach for Florida in the 2004 Peach Bowl (Miami won 27-10).

• The Longhorns are making their 53rd bowl appearance (second on the all-time NCAA list), including 36th in the state of Texas and seventh in Houston. The Longhorns made six appearances in the now defunct Bluebonnet Bowl with a record of 3-2-1. Texas played in the final Bluebonnet Bowl game, a 32-27 victory over Pittsburgh on Dec. 31, 1987. The Longhorns have played in the Cotton Bowl 22 times, Sun Bowl four and Alamo three.

• UT had a school-record stretch of 12 straight bowl appearances from 1998-2009, which bettered the previous mark of nine straight from 1977-85.

• With a 24-21 victory over No. 10 Ohio State in the 2009 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Texas won bowl games in five consecutive years for the first time in school history (2004-08 seasons). The Horns did win five straight previously (1963-64, '66, '68-69), but the streak was interrupted by seasons that did not result in a bowl.

• The Texas Bowl will mark the fifth appearance for the Horns at NRG Stadium. They defeated Rice three times (34-17 in 2010; 52-7 in 2006; 48-7 in 2003) and Colorado, 70-3, in the 2005 Big 12 Championship game.

• Texas has been led by its defense. The Horns were solid for most of the year, ranking 26th in the FBS in total yards allowed (348.3 per game), No. 12 in passing defense (186.3 ypg), No. 8 in yards allowed per play (4.67), 16th in passing efficiency defense (108.34 rating), tied for seventh in sacks (3.25 pg) and 33rd in points allowed (23.3 pg) at the end of the regular season. UT had strong performances against some of nation's best offenses. Texas Tech, which had the 23rd-ranked offense (483.8 ypg), was held to 381 total yards. West Virginia came into its game with Texas ranked 12th nationally in total offense (508.2 ypg) and 11th in passing yards (325.8 pg). WVU was held to 448 yards of offense, with 74 of that total coming on a meaningless drive in the final 5:00 of the game. Oklahoma State entered its game with Texas averaging 386.4 yards of offense and was held to a season-low 192, including 34 on the ground. Arkansas enters the bowl game with a strong rushing attack. The Razorbacks rank 26th in the FBS, averaging 220.3 rushing yards per game. They have a pair 1,000-yard backs in Jonathan Williams (1,085) and Alex Collins (1,024) which has helped them post the ninth-best time of possession in the nation (33:27 pg).

• The Texas defense has surrendered just 11 passing touchdowns this season, including only three over the last five games. Oklahoma State snapped a string of three straight games without allowing a TD pass with one in the fourth quarter. The last time UT didn't allow an opponent to throw a passing touchdown for three consecutive games was 2001 (at Baylor - Nov. 3; Kansas - Nov. 10; at Texas A&M - Nov. 23). This season only six teams in the FBS have allowed fewer than 11 TD passes.

• After averaging 319.2 yards of total offense over the first five games, the Horns have posted an average of 390.3 yards over the last seven contests. They are No. 102 nationally in total offense (360.5 ypg). Texas' top four offensive outputs this season have occurred in its last seven games. One week after being held to a season-low 196 total yards, including 90 on the ground, in the loss to K-State, which came into the game ranked No. 10 nationally in rushing defense (100.8 ypg) and No. 39 in total defense (352.0 ypg), Horns posted 469 total yards vs. Texas Tech. After posting 482 total yards (148 rushing/334 passing) vs. Oklahoma, the second-highest total in series history (553 in 1999), UT rolled up a season-high 512 total yards vs. Iowa State. The output in those two games was the best in back-to-back conference contests since the 2011 season when UT rolled up 590 yards vs. Kansas (Oct. 29) and then 595 vs. Texas Tech (Nov. 5). The Longhorns will be facing a strong Arkansas defense. The Razorbacks rank 24th in the FBS in total defense (345.4 ypg), 15th in points allowed (20.3 pg) and 22nd in rushing defense (124.0 ypg).

• QB Tyrone Swoopes has been the focal point of the offense in just his second season. Swoopes has directed the offense the last 11 games after returning starter David Ash retired due to injury. Swoopes has completed 211 of 359 passes (58.8 percent) for 2,352 yards with 13 TDs and 10 interceptions. His passing yardage  and total offense output (2,646) are both the fourth-best marks in school history after 11 starts. He posted career highs in completions (27), attempts (44) and passing yards (334) vs. Oklahoma and followed up by recording career highs in total offense (416) and rushing yards (95) vs. Iowa State. Swoopes also has 294 rushing yards and is one of just five QBs in school history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 200 in a season.

John Harris (64) and Jaxon Shipley (58) are leading the team in receptions. Harris (5.3 per game) and Shipley (5.3) rank tied for 47th and 52nd, respectively, in the FBS. Harris is fifth in the Big 12 and 25th nationally in receiving yards per game (84.6). In addition, Harris is averaging 15.9 yards-per-catch, which ranks ninth nationally among players with at least 55 receptions.

Malcolm Brown (683) and Johnathan Gray (628) are the top rushers. Brown (6) and Gray (7) have also combined for 13 rushing touchdowns. Brown rushed 22 times for a season-high 116 yards against Texas Tech and Gray posted a season-best 101 on 10 carries vs. West Virginia. Those were the first 100-yard rushing games of the season for Texas.

National Award Success: Texas has continued its success of having players considered for national awards. UT had nine players represented a total of 23 times on 13 award preseason watch lists. Two of them - LB Jordan Hicks and DT Malcom Brown - made either the semifinalist or finalist lists for three of those awards.

• Brown was a finalist for both the Bronko Nagurski Award (top defensive player) and the Outland Trophy (top interior lineman). He was the lone defensive lineman among the Nagurski finalists and only defensive lineman among the Outland finalists. Brown is the third Nagurski finalist in school history, joining Johnson (2004) and Brian Orakpo (2008), both of whom won. Texas has three Outland winners: defensive tackle Brad Shearer (1977), guard Tommy Nobis (1965) and tackle Scott Appleton (1963). There were also three other finalists: offensive lineman Justin Blalock (2006), offensive tackle Leonard Davis (2000) and offensive guard Dan Neil (1996).

• Hicks was named one of 20 semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which honors the nation's most outstanding defensive player, on Nov. 3. A Longhorn has never won the Bednarik Award, though Derrick Johnson was a finalist in 2004. Hicks did not reach the finals.

• Brown was first team All-America choice by the AP, FWAA and Sporting News, becoming the 47th (eighth DT) consensus first team All-American in UT history. Brown and Hicks were second-team selections by Walter Camp. Hicks was also on the FWAA second team

Longhorn Graduates: Several Longhorns participated in UT"s Fall Commencement ceremonies. When the Horns take the field for the Texas Bowl, 22 team members will have earned their degrees with a 23rd, who had enough hours to participate in Fall Commencement, due to earn his in the spring. In all, 15 football student-athletes took part in ceremonies on Saturday, Dec. 6. Those included QB David Ash, RB Malcolm Brown, CB Quandre Diggs, WRChris Giron, WR Dakota Haines, OT Marcus Hutchins, WR Bryant Jackson, LB Tevin Jackson, QB Miles Onyegbule, PK Ben Pruitt, DE Cedric Reed, PWilliam Russ, TE Chris Terry, WR David Thomann and S Mykkele Thompson, while P Michael Davidson will graduate this semester but not walk. Of those, only Tevin Jackson has hours remaining to complete his degree. Several others have already graduated in previous semesters. That group includes DSNate Boyer, TE Greg Daniels, C Dominic Espinosa, WR John Harris, LB Jordan Hicks and TE M.J. McFarland. Also, LB Demarco Cobbs completes his degree this semester, however he qualified to participate in last spring's commencement ceremonies and did so. The Horns' 22 graduates are tied for first nationally among bowl participants.

Streaks, Trends and Milestones:
• Texas is one of only 10 teams nationally that has held at least three FBS teams to seven points or less in a game this season (LSU - 4; Ole Miss - 3; Penn State - 3; Georgia - 3; Clemson - 3; Mississippi State - 3; UCF - 3; Cincinnati - 3; TCU - 3). The Longhorns are the only Big 12 team to hold two league foes to a TD or less. The last time Texas held three opponents to seven points or less in a season was 2009.

• Five of Texas' losses occurred to ranked teams and four (UCLA, Baylor, Oklahoma and Kansas State) remain among the top 15 nationally. Oklahoma dropped out of the top 25 after the regular-season finale.

• Texas won three of its four Big 12 road games this season. UT has won nine of its last 12 league road games.

• Over the last three games, the opposition has converted just 10 of 45 third-down attempts (22.2 percent). West Virginia was only 3 of 17 (17.6), Oklahoma State 2 of 13 (15.3) and TCU 5 of 15 (33.3). UT is now No. 16 in the country in third-down conversion defense (33.8 percent).

Tyrone Swoopes completed 24 of 33 passes for 305 yards and two TDs in the win against Oklahoma State. He had a career-best passing efficiency rating of 170.36 and was 9 of 13 for 163 yards, including both his TDs, on third down. Swoopes now has three 300-yard passing games on the season, which is tied for fourth on the UT single-season list. Only five quarterbacks (Colt McCoy - 15; Major Applewhite - 9; James Brown - 7; David Ash - 4; Chris Simms - 4) have more in a career and two have a higher total in a season (McCoy – 6 in 2008, 5 in 2009; Applewhite – 5 in 1999).

Malcolm Brown has moved up the UT career rushing yards list during the season (now at 2,653). One week after posting a season-high 116 yards on 22 carries vs. Texas Tech to move from 13th to 12th, the senior rushed 20 times for 90 yards vs. West Virginia and passed Jim Bertelsen (2,510/1969-71) to move to 11th. In the last seven games, Brown has rushed for 437 yards after posting 246 in the first five. He had his 11th career 100-yard rushing game vs. Texas Tech and ranks tied for seventh place on that UT all-time list. Brown has six rushing scores this year and 24 in his career. He is three shy of the UT career top 10.

Johnathan Gray became the 18th UT player to top 2,000 career rushing yards vs. West Virginia when he posted his fifth career 100-yard rushing game (10 carries/101 yards). Gray is now 15th on the school's career rushing yards list (2,109).

• With three receptions for 38 receiving yards vs. West Virginia, Jaxon Shipley moved from fourth to third on the UT all-time list, passing Quan Cosby (212/2005-08). Shipley has 58 catches on the season and 217 in his career. The senior is one of three players in school history to record three 50-reception seasons. He had a career-high 59 catches in 2012 and 56 last season. Shipley is joined by Mike Adams (1993, '95-96) and Roy Williams (2001-03) on the exclusive list. Shipley missed the regular-season finale with TCU due to a hamstring injury.

• When John Harris had a career-high tying nine receptions for 117 receiving yards and one TD vs. Oklahoma State, he moved to No. 8 on the UT single-season receiving yards chart (976). In the regular-season finale vs. TCU, Harris became just the sixth player in UT history to post more than 1,000 receiving yards (1,105) in a season. His 64 receptions rank tied for eighth on the single-season list and he needs one more TD to move into the top 10 (seven through 12 games). His four career 100-yard receiving games rank tied for fifth on the UT single-season list.

• The Horns have been forced to utilize five different starting lineups along the offensive line. The lineup - LT Marcus Hutchins, LG Sedrick Flowers, CTaylor Doyle, RG Kent Perkins and RT Camrhon Hughes - has been the same the last six games.

Quandre Diggs has made his way into a pair of the UT top 10 career lists. He recorded his third interception of the season vs. WVU. With 11 career picks, he now ranks tied for ninth on the UT all-time list with Mossy Cade (1981-83) and William Graham (1979-81). Diggs also posted his 37th career pass breakup vs. TCU to move into a tie for ninth with Cade on the UT all-time list.

• Senior LB Jordan Hicks was one of 20 semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award, given to the nation's top defensive player. Hicks has a team-high 138 stops for an average of 11.5 per game. The senior has eight double-digit tackle games, including a career-best 18 stops vs. both UCLA and Iowa State. He was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week for his 15-tackle, one-interception performance vs. Kansas (Sept. 27). Steve Edmond is second with 122 stops, including a career-best 19 vs. Baylor. He has six double-digit tackle games.

• C Dominic Espinosa, who fractured an ankle in the season opener vs. North Texas, had his team-best 40 consecutive-game starting streak snapped vs. BYU. DE Cedric Reed, who has started 31 straight games, now has the team lead. TE Geoff Swaim has the most consecutive starts on offense with 18.

2023 Texas Longhorns Football Season Tickets

Last Time vs. Arkansas (Sept. 27, 2008): No. 7/7 Texas registered 200-plus yards both rushing and passing for the third time in four games and held Arkansas to just 191 total yards of offense in a 52-10 win in Austin. It was the Longhorns largest margin of victory in the series in 92 years, dating back to a 52-0 win in 1916. Texas scored on seven (six TDs) of its first eight possessions en route to 421 total yards (208 rushing/213 passing). Five of the TD drives covered at least 60 yards. Texas completed a school-record 21 of 23 passes (91.3 percent), eclipsing the mark of 90.9 percent (10 of 11) set against Rice in 2006.Colt McCoy completed 17 of 19 passes for 185 yards and three TDs (no interceptions) and led the team in rushing with 84 yards and two scores. Jordan Shipley hauled in eight catches for 83 yards and two TDs, his fourth straight game with a TD reception. Quan Cosby added five catches for 67 yards and a score. Running backs Vondrell McGee (16-48) and Cody Johnson (9-43-1) combined for 91 yards and a score on 25 carries. UT held the Hogs to 11 yards rushing on 26 carries, Arkansas' lowest output since 1997. The Razorbacks total offense output was the lowest since 2002. Texas, which had seven sacks, 11 TFL and 11 pressures on the game, held Arkansas to just 57 yards on its final 29 plays (2.0 ypp) of the game. Brian Orakpo led the defense with two sacks, three TFL and a forced fumble. Sergio Kindle chipped in five stops, including a sack, and Chykie Brown added four tackles with a sack. Henry Melton forced a fumble (recovered by Ben Alexander) that resulted in a UT TD drive and Aaron Williams returned an interception 81 yards for a score.

Game of the Century (Dec. 6, 1969): Texas was undefeated in 18 straight games while Arkansas had won 15 in a row. The Longhorns were ranked No. 1 by The Associated Press and Arkansas was at No. 2. UT was leading the nation in rushing and Arkansas was atop the national list for scoring defense. President Richard Nixon was on hand to proclaim the winner National Champion. Something had to give. Arkansas scored first on a 1-yard touchdown run just 1:27 into the game, and took a 7-0 lead to the locker room after both teams were scoreless the remainder of the first half. The Razorbacks then increased the lead to 14-0 when Bill Montgomery passed to Chuck Dicus for a 29-yard touchdown in the third quarter. But late in the third period, James Street led the Longhorns on an 80-yard drive capped by a 42-yard touchdown gallop by the senior quarterback. After converting the two-point conversion on a run by Street, UT trailed 14-8. Arkansas drove right back to the Texas 7-yard line and was poised to score when UT defensive back Danny Lester picked off a Montgomery pass in the end zone. Texas fumbled on its next possession but got the ball back 62 yards from the Arkansas goal line with 7:58 to play. Three plays netted 7 yards, and on fourth-and-3 from the 43, Street called a timeout. Royal then famously called for the "53 veer pass," and seconds later, tight end Randy Peschel was on the receiving end of a 44-yard strike from Street that kept Texas' hopes alive. Two plays later, Jim Bertelsen slammed over from 2 yards out as the stunned Arkansas crowd looked on. Happy Feller added the extra point and Tom Campbell's interception of a Montgomery pass at the Texas 21-yard line with 1:22 left sealed the victory.

By The Numbers…

1: Number of offensive touchdowns allowed by the Texas defense in the opening quarter this season (vs. Iowa State).

1: Cedric Reed leads the current roster in career tackles for loss (37), sacks (18.0) and forced fumbles (6).

1: Charlie Strong is the only head coach in Louisville to win at least three bowl games and he did it in just four seasons.

2: The Longhorns have two alums on the coaching staff. Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford was a cornerback (1977-'79, '81) and Les Koenningcoaches the position he played (1978-80) - wide receiver.

2: Charlie Strong was twice named Big East Coach of the Year (2010, '12).

2: Charlie Strong served as the defensive coordinator on two national championship teams at Florida (2006, '08).

2: The Longhorns have two running backs on the roster with more than 2,000 career rushing yards. Malcolm Brown ranks 11th on the school's career list (2,653) and Johnathan Gray is 15th (2,109).

2: Demarco Cobbs and Jordan Hicks are the only two Longhorns who have played in NRG Stadium. Both played as true freshman vs. Rice in 2010, seeing time as reserves on defense and on special teams.

3: The Longhorns, who rank tied for seventh in the FBS in sacks (3.25 pg), have produced at least three sacks in eight games this season.

3: Jaxon Shipley ranks No. 3 in school history in career receptions (217) after passing Quan Cosboy (212/2005-08) during the West Virginia game.

5: Number of career starts the offensive line had registered entering the BYU game (Kent Perkins - 2; Sedrick Flowers - 2; Marcus Hutchins - 1).

6: Jaxon Shipley ranks No. 6 in school history in career receiving yards (2,504).

7: David Ash ended his career ranked No. 7 on the UT all-time passing TDs list (31).

8: David Ash ended his career No. 8 on the UT career passing yards list (4,728).

9: Jaxon Shipley ranks tied for ninth on the school's all-time punt return average chart (9.6).

9: Quandre Diggs is the team's active career leader with 37 pass breakups, which is tied for the 9th most in school history.

11: Malcolm Brown has a team-high 11 career 100-yard rushing games, a mark that ranks tied for seventh in school history. The Longhorns are 8-3 when Brown rushes for 100 or more yards.

12: Jordan Hicks has 12 career double-digit tackle games.

13: Opponents have returned just 13 of 59 kickoffs, the fewest in the nation.

23: During 2012-13, Charlie Strong led Louisville to a 23-3 record. The win total was tied for fourth in the FBS over that span.

28: Malcom Brown has 28 career tackles for loss, which ranks second on the team among active players (Cedric Reed - 37).

31: Cedric Reed has started 31 straight games which leads the team.

40: Dominic Espinosa had his team-leading streak of 40 straight starts snapped when he missed the BYU game (fractured ankle).

49: As of Dec. 15, the Longhorns' strength of schedule is 49th in the FBS, according to NCAA.org. The past and future opposition has a winning percentage of .541 (72-61).

53.04: John Harris (64) and Jaxon Shipley (58) lead the team in receptions and are the clear top targets of Tyrone Swoopes. That duo has accounted for 53.04 percent (122 of 230) of the team's receptions.

60: Number of career starts by members of the offensive line (Kent Perkins - 13; Sedrick Flowers - 13; Marcus Hutchins - 12; Taylor Doyle - 10; Camrhon Hughes - 6; Jake Raulerson - 4; Darius James - 2).

62.39: John Harris (1,015) and Jaxon Shipley (571) lead the team in receiving yards. That duo has accounted for 62.39 percent (1,586 of 2,542) of the team's receiving yards.

77: Tyrone Swoopes had streak of 77 passes without an interception snapped vs. Baylor. That is the 11th-longest streak in school history.

104: Tyrone Swoopes had streak of 104 passes without an interception snapped vs. West Virginia. That is the seventh-longest streak in UT history.

176: Over the last nine years, Texas has the most Academic All-Big 12 selections of any team in the conference with 176.

314: Steve Edmond is the team's active leader in career tackles (314). Jordan Hicks is second with 290.

881: With 881 victories in program history, Texas is tied for second with Notre Dame on the NCAA all-time victories list behind only Michigan.


James Schleicher

James Schleicher is the publisher of Horns Illustrated magazine. He's also a fifth generation Texan and lifelong Austinite. Follow @HornsIllus twitter to keep up with all things Horns Illustrated.

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