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Hogs' Matchup with Longhorns Is Pittman's First Big Test

For better or worse, one of the measuring sticks for Arkansas football coaches is how they do on the biggest stage and that's Texas on Saturday.

The hype for Texas is here, the circus is coming to town and Sam Pittman has his first big test.

For Arkansas coaches that's how they are measured. Whether that's right or wrong isn't up for debate because that's the way it is.

SEC Nation is coming to town, the game is going to be on national television in prime time and that hasn't happened in a few years.

Oh, get ready. Everywhere you go in Fayetteville these days the "Beat Texas" stuff is for sale and people are already wearing it. It's the second game of the season and the Razorbacks are shoving the chips to the middle of the table.

Pittman has coached against Texas a couple of times when he was on John Blake's staff at Oklahoma in 1997-98, then when the Hogs played the Longhorns in the Texas Bowl in 2014.

He grew up in Grove, Oklahoma, and was well aware of the rivalry with the Sooners and, of course, the Hogs. Grove is closer to Fayetteville than Norman.

Sam Pittman

Arkansas coach Sam Pittman making the rounds at Monday's practice getting ready for Texas game Saturday.

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"I had a dislike for 'em when I was at Oklahoma and we went down there and lost in the Cotton Bowl two years in a row," he said. "When I was a kid in Oklahoma, the Nebraska game was a big deal. Texas was a big deal and when I was coaching at OU you could feel that."

The good time was the Texas Bowl. Arkansas fans were ecstatic to be there. Nobody from Texas seemed to even want to be there, including the coaches, players or fans.

"I remember getting off the bus before the game and it felt like you were at the Cotton Bowl," Pittman said Monday. "It felt like you were at the Sugar Bowl. As a matter of fact, a few years later at Georgia we went to the Sugar Bowl and I didn't feel like the atmosphere was as good that day as it was when we played Texas in the Texas Bowl."

Part of that was Georgia didn't really want to be in the Sugar Bowl. They had played for the National Championship a year before.

The Bulldogs had failed to be where they expected to be while the Longhorns were fired up and ready to play in probably Tom Herman's biggest win.

It makes a difference.

Texas is a big deal for Razorback fans. This is the type game that could launch a special season for Pittman in his second season.

Or send it crashing down.