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College Football Spotlight

They're Hooked on Rivalry

September 14, 2003|Elliott Teaford | Times Staff Writer

Back in the day, Arkansas and Texas played what was then considered the Game of the Century. President Nixon swooped in by helicopter to watch the Razorbacks and Longhorns decide which team was No. 1.

Sitting in the stands with the regular folks, Nixon braved a raw day in Fayetteville, Ark., to see the 1969 national championship decided in the Longhorns' favor with a memorable 15-14 victory over the Razorbacks.

In time, Arkansas Coach Frank Broyles and Texas Coach Darrell Royal would become coaching legends, with history looking more favorably on them than "Tricky Dick" Nixon.

Proving nothing lasts forever, however, the Arkansas-Texas rivalry would be abandoned -- along with the once-mighty Southwest Conference -- in a wave of conference expansion. Arkansas, now of the Southeastern Conference, and Texas, now of the Big 12, last played a regular-season game in 1991.

When the schools met Saturday at Austin, Texas, to renew the rivalry, Broyles and Royal opened the festivities with a cordial pregame handshake at midfield.

Inspired by Coach Houston Nutt, an Arkansas native who is well versed in the history of the two schools, the fired-up but unranked Razorbacks upset the No. 6 Longhorns, 38-28, ending Texas' 20-game home winning streak.

Nutt had a difficult time holding his emotions in check when Arkansas defeated Texas in the 2000 Cotton Bowl, celebrating by flashing an upside-down "Hook 'em Horns" hand gesture to departing Longhorn fans at game's end.

He would later apologize to Texas Coach Mack Brown, and did not repeat his actions Saturday. It was Brown who pressed for the rivalry to be renewed.

"It's the greatest game there is in the world," said Nutt, who was 0-2 against Texas while playing for Arkansas. "It's a special feeling to beat Texas."

Nutt is 2-0 as a coach against the Longhorns, better than Broyles' mark of 5-14. Lou Holtz was 2-5 and Ken Hatfield 2-4 against Texas.

"It's up there, way high," Nutt said when asked where Saturday's victory ranked among all his victories.

At least one of the Razorback players caught the spirit. De'Arrius Howard, a sophomore tailback, proudly waved an Arkansas flag in front of a small group of Hog fans.

Then, and somewhat less tastefully, Howard ran to the end zone and plucked some orange-painted grass and playfully tossed it aside.


Upsets, Upsets, Upsets

There was more than just Arkansas' upset of Texas as ranked and favored teams fell around the country.

Nevada Las Vegas took down No. 14 Wisconsin after running back Anthony Davis sprained his left ankle in the first quarter.

Safety Jamaal Brimmer returned a fumble for a touchdown, set up two others with interceptions, added two sacks among his 11 tackles and had Rebel Coach John Robinson hitting the hyperbole switch during his postgame news conference.

"Ronnie Lott had those same kind of instincts," said Robinson, who coached the former NFL standout at USC. "He [Brimmer] has a sense of the game. He is a wonderful player. He is one of the most instinctive players I have ever coached."

And there was more.

Washington State rebounded strongly after squandering a big second-half lead against Notre Dame last week to pummel No. 17 Colorado at Boulder (See next item for more on the Buffaloes' woes).

Cincinnati, which always seems to give better teams trouble but seldom pulls out a significant victory (see: Ohio State, 2002), did so in upending West Virginia. Neither team was ranked, but the Mountaineers were a touchdown favorite.

Purdue held off Wake Forest, which ordinarily wouldn't raise an eyebrow, but the Deacons looked positively demonic after upsetting North Carolina State last week to improve to 2-0.

Louisiana Tech rallied to defeat Michigan State in a battle of unranked teams, which prompted the quote of the day.

Said dispirited Spartan guard Paul Harker: "We totally gave it away. We didn't just shoot ourselves in the foot. We took a bazooka and blew the whole thing off."


Illegal Downloading Penalty

Imagine Colorado defensive end Matt McChesney's surprise when his name appeared on a list of more than 250 others in connection with federal lawsuits filed by the music industry against illegal Internet downloaders.

"Oh, man, are you serious?" McChesney said when informed he was on the list. McChesney reportedly has declined further interview requests on the subject, including one from Rolling Stone magazine.

"We'll advise Matt to get some legal help and see what happens," Colorado Coach Gary Barnett said.

When asked if he had now seen it all as a college coach, Barnett said, "I'm not saying that. It's one I haven't seen before, but there will be others. It's just another new page that goes into my players' manual, I know that. Every year there's something."

Offensive tackle Sam Wilder spoke up for his teammate.

"Free McChesney," Wilder said. "That's all I've got to say."

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