It’s Texas week (again!). A couple of weeks ago, John detailed some of the heartwarming moments in the Arkansas-Texas football rivalry. Well, I’m here to recount some of the heartbreak, to be - in this instance at least - the John Lennon to his Paul McCartney. (In another attempt to emulate the late Beatle, I’ve started to bring my Japanese conceptual artist girlfriend to our blog writing sessions.)
Let’s face it: No team has broken the hearts of Razorback football fans more often than the Longhorns. John and I have decided that the games below are the three most demoralizing Texas losses of our time as fans (which began in the early 1980s). Please share your most heartbreaking moments in the comments thread (we have a feeling some of you might mention a certain 1969 loss). Now, on with the misery!
1. Texas 16, Arkansas 14. Oct. 17, 1987, War Memorial Stadium, Little Rock. Hands down, this one hurts the most. Arkansas came into the game ranked No. 15 with a record of 4-1. The Longhorns, on the other hand, were unranked and below .500, with a 2-3 record. I probably don’t need to remind you how this ended up, but here goes: Down 14-10 with 1:48 to go, the Longhorns began an 11-play, 56-yard drive that culminated in a knife-through-the-heart, 18-yard touchdown pass from Bret Stafford to Tony Jones with no time left on the clock.
Moments later, some losers heckled Arkansas coach Ken Hatfield on his walk back to the locker room, and he made the understandable - but perhaps not terribly PR savvy - move of talking back. This loss came only three weeks after Miami had humiliated Arkansas 51-7 on the same field, and I’m not sure that Hatfield’s relationship with the fan base ever really recovered from the one-two punch of those defeats, even with back-to-back Cotton Bowl appearances in the next two seasons.
On a personal note, I remember watching this game at my grandmother’s 75th birthday party in Pine Bluff. Needless to say, the ending dampened the festivities for a while, at least until the alcohol started flowing in earnest.
2. Texas 15, Arkansas 13. Oct. 19, 1985, Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville. Hatfield’s second Razorback squad was off to a fine start, undefeated and sitting at No. 4 in the polls, when the unranked Longhorns (sensing a theme here?) came to Northwest Arkansas with a 3-1 record. The Hogs kept Texas out of the end zone, but lost anyway after Jeff Ward kicked five field goals for the Longhorns and his Razorback counterpart, Greg Horne, missed three field goal attempts. Within hours, it seemed, the oh-so-tasteful joke that Horne had tried to commit suicide after the game - but failed when he couldn’t kick the chair out from under him - had spread across the state. (By the way, if you want to check out some hilariously dated footage, check out this clip from the pre-game show. Don’t stare directly at those blue blazers - they may burn your retina.)