Publish date:

Texas vs. Arkansas Football Prediction and Preview

Bijan Robinson, Texas Longhorns Football

Once-bitter rivals clash in a matchup of future conference foes

Back in the glory days of the Southwest Conference, the Texas Longhorns and Arkansas Razorbacks enjoyed one of the best rivalries in college football. Maybe the two will rekindle it whenever Texas joins the SEC. They could start by building up some bad blood when the Longhorns visit Fayetteville this weekend.

History aside, the biggest story coming into this game is Steve Sarkisian, who got off to a roaring start in his first game as the head coach at Texas. Having been in that same position last year, Arkansas' Sam Pittman probably isn't harboring much sympathy as he looks to lead his team to a home upset.

Here's what to watch when the Longhorns and Razorbacks tangle on Saturday night.

Texas at Arkansas

Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN
Spread: Texas -7

When Texas Has the Ball

Things couldn't have gone much better for the Texas offense in last week's 38-18 victory over Louisiana. Sophomore running back Bijan Robinson powered the attack with 103 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. He added four receptions for 73 yards and a score through the air.

The debut of quarterback Hudson Card had to leave Longhorn faithful excited, too. Card threw for 224 yards, completing 14 of his 21 passes. Importantly, Card tossed two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Count on Arkansas gearing up to stop Robinson on the ground, forcing Card to execute in the passing game in his first road start. Razorbacks linebacker Bumper Pool will miss the first half following a targeting penalty in game one against Rice. Don't be surprised if Sarkisian tries to take advantage of Pool's absence in the first two quarters.

Recommended Articles

When Arkansas Has the Ball

KJ Jefferson didn't do much against Rice last week to assuage any concerns around Fayetteville about the Arkansas QB room. Arkansas generated a meager average of 6.1 yards when Jefferson threw the ball versus the Owls, who picked him off once. Twelve of Jefferson's 21 passes found their way to Razorbacks.

Meanwhile, the Hogs chewed up rushing yards throughout the game, pumping out 5.6 yards per attempt. Jefferson did more damage on the ground than through the air, running for 89 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries. Running back Trelon Smith rushed for 102 yards and a TD on 22 carries.

Texas defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski would probably prefer to see Jefferson trying to win this game with his arm. That means the Longhorns will likely worry about the run first and dare Arkansas to trust Jefferson's passing skills. How will Arkansas offensive coordinator Kendal Briles counter?

Final Analysis

Surprisingly, Texas' impressive win over Louisiana last week didn't garner much attention nationally. Perhaps all the "Texas is back" talk has finally grown old.

Ironically, this group of Longhorns may be more "back" than any UT team in recent memory. Sarkisian owes that in large part to Robinson, who may be the top RB in the country. UT can't feed Robinson the ball 25 times every week, but he should still hear his number called early and often on Saturday.

Card feels like the biggest variable heading into this game. Tens of thousands of Hog fans will want to send the Longhorns a message about what life will be like for them in the SEC, and a raucous atmosphere could rattle Texas' young field general. So long as he keeps his composure, UT should head home to Austin late Saturday night with a hard-fought win.

Prediction: Texas 28, Arkansas 24

Podcast: Week 2 Preview, Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is the founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.