By Kevin Price, Publisher and Editor in Chief of USDR.
The Advocare V100 Texas Bowl in Houston, Texas offered a great deal of promise to a packed NRG stadium and its ESPN television audience. On paper, the Texas Longhorns (representing the Big 12) and Arkansas Razorbacks (representing the SEC) look very similar, both entering the game with 6-6 records.
Over a very hapless early season the Longhorns suffered from a 2-4 season. However, in the next six games, they were able to turn it around significantly with a 4-2 record at the end. Victories for Texas included University of North Texas, University of Kansas, Iowa State, West Virginia, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State. The only win against a ranked team was the one facing West Virginia. All but one of the wins were against Big 12 schools, with the exception of University of North Texas (C-USA).
Meanwhile, Arkansas had the same 6-6 record. It beat teams from the lowly FCS of Division I (Nicholls of Southland), as well as teams that were from MAC, Sunbelt, Big 12, and two from the SEC (with these being ranked programs).
Statistically — points by both teams this season, wins, etc. — they looked very similar, but the quality of the teams were significantly different and this was evident on the field. With the Longhorns only producing a little more than 50 yards in total offense, one gets the sense they never actually showed up. They seemed to be a laughable foil to their SEC opponent. In the end, the final score was 31 to 7 with the Razorbacks the winner. In reality, the game wasn’t even as close as the score, and the score was not close at all. It was a complete Razorback blowout.
Chris Kidd (left in the picture above with me), who is a contributor on the Price of Business show I host covered the event with me. We both observed that it has become clear that these teams tend to mirror the conferences from which they come. It also seems clear that the Razorbacks benefit from being a part of one of (if not) the most competitive conferences in football, while the Big 12 has only continued to slip in both relevance and quality in recent years. Over the years, the Big 12 has seen its cohorts depart (such as Texas A&M and Missouri) only to go on to much greener pastures.
For further reading, see Chris Kidd’s report at PriceofBusiness.com.
For the next 6 years the Texas Bowl is going to have a tie in to both the Big 12 and SEC. I hope they don’t make the mistake of choosing teams with the same records or the audiences will continue to be disappointed. The SEC is a significantly better conference than the Big 12. Period.
In spite of the disappointing show on the field, it was a fun event and NRG Field, Advocare, and all others involved are a class act. However, if the Bowl is going to grow in prestige, it is going to have to get more realistic in its match ups.