It’s not often that the Longhorns play a Southeastern Conference school in the preseason, let alone in SEC country. In fact, since 2002 Texas has faced an SEC team just four times (2-2).
It doesn’t matter what team or their record, no game is guaranteed in the SEC, and that includes this weekend when the Longhorns travel to Oxford.
In the past 10 years, Texas has faced the Arkansas Razorbacks three times and the Alabama Crimson Tide once, the latter being the 2010 BCS National Championship game. So how has Texas fared against these SEC foes? Let’s take a look at the stats.
In 2003, the Razorbacks traveled to Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, unranked and destined to lose to then-ranked-No. 5 Texas. However, Arkansas left Austin with a 38-28 victory, leaving behind 83,000 stunned fans (pre-renovations). Led by quarterback Matt Jones, the Razorbacks amassed 438 total yards of offense, 265 of those yards on the ground. The defeat ended the Longhorns’ 20-game home winning streak.
Just one year later, Texas returned the favor in Fayetteville, defeating the Razorbacks, 22-20, thanks in large part to quarterback Vince Young and running back Cedric Benson. Young passed for two touchdowns, while Benson rushed for 188 yards and one score. The Longhorns picked off Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones twice and recovered two fumbles en route to a Rose-Bowl-winning season.
Four years later, the Razorbacks returned to Austin only to be blown out by the Longhorns, 52-10. Texas accumulated 421 yards of offense to Arkansas’ 191. Longhorn cornerback Aaron Williams returned a Casey Dick interception 81 yards for a touchdown.
Last but not least, Texas faced the Crimson Tide in the 2010 title game. The Longhorns emerged losers in a hard-fought game, 37-21. Texas tallied more total yards than Alabama, 276-263; however, it lost the turnover battle 5-2. Longhorn faithfuls were left wondering what could have been had senior quarterback Colt McCoy not gone down with an injury early in the game.
While the Longhorns certainly have experience against SEC teams, they’ve only gone on the road to an SEC stadium once this century and narrowly escaped with a victory. Ole Miss is notable for passionate fans packing Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturdays, and it will be no different this weekend, especially with the nationally-televised game set to start at 8:15 p.m.
What about the actual Rebels team Texas will face?
Ole Miss is 2-0 so far this season, ranking 9th in the nation in rushing average (284 yards), and has only allowed an average of 19 points, ranking the Rebels 44th in scoring defense. Quarterback Bo Wallace, a junior-college transfer that the Longhorns had interest in last spring, has passed for 438 yards and five touchdowns on the season, with a 76.1 completion percentage. The Rebels will run a multiple-set offense against Texas, unlike New Mexico’s option-based attack.
Ole Miss isn’t the most highly touted SEC squad this season and is often overlooked in its daunting West division that includes Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, etc. However, if 2003 is any indicator for the Longhorns, SEC teams are more than capable of ruining a team’s season early.