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FORT WORTH (AP) – Kenny Hill has already won a game as a starting quarterback against Arkansas, and TCU has a victory over coach Bret Bielema even though the former Southwest Conference rivals last played a quarter-century ago.
Hill, the new starter for the 15th-ranked Horned Frogs, was a sophomore two years ago for Texas A&M in an overtime victory against the Razorbacks. And Bielema was still coaching at Wisconsin when TCU finished its undefeated 2010 season with a Rose Bowl victory over the Badgers.
After tough season-opening victories for both teams, TCU and Arkansas meet Saturday night for the first time since 1991 . That was the last season for the Razorbacks before they moved to the SEC.
“Back in those days, back 25 years, it was a good game, and it still is,” TCU defensive end James McFarland said.
The Razorbacks, who got a fourth-quarter touchdown for an opening 21-20 win over Louisiana Tech, are only the second SEC team (Vanderbilt in 2003) to visit Fort Worth since the Southwest Conference broke apart before the 1996 season. They will provide a different look than what TCU is used to seeing in pass-happy, big-play Big 12.
“They’re a team that comes right at you, they make you play football. You don’t play any basketball,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “You’ve got to be ready in the trenches. On defense, it’s a three-hour middle drill.”
Bielema, now in his fourth season at Arkansas, got the up-close view of a Patterson-coached team in Wisconsin’s 21-19 loss in the Rose Bowl, before the Horned Frogs moved to the Big 12 and shared a conference title there two years ago.
“Big fan of Gary Patterson. Just as long as I’ve been in this business, what he’s built at TCU, the culture he’s created, the environment,” Bielema said. “That’s when I really had a true appreciation for what they do defensively. … He’s a good dude, one of those guys you like to be around — except for maybe this Saturday.”
Some things to know in the first part of a home-and-home series, TCU goes to Fayetteville next season:
THEN AND NOW
Hill threw for 386 yards and four touchdowns, including a 25-yard TD in overtime, when Texas A&M beat the Arkansas at the Dallas Cowboys’ NFL stadium about 20 miles from the TCU campus in 2014. In his debut for the Horned Frogs, after having to redshirt last season following his transfer, Hill had 484 total yards (439 passing, 45 rushing) and accounted for five touchdowns (two passing, three rushing) in a 59-41 victory over FCS playoff team South Dakota State.
After allowing only 14 sacks last season, Arkansas’ revamped offensive line struggled mightily against Louisiana Tech. The Razorbacks, with three new starters on the line, allowed four sacks of quarterback Austin Allen and gained only 2.7 yards per rush — after allowing only 14 sacks and averaging 5 yards per carry last season.
Junior college transfer Taj Williams had 11 catches for 158 yards and a touchdown in his debut for TCU. But Williams was one of only nine players who caught passes in the opener, and Hill threw passes in the direction of 13 different players. Hill said having so many options is a quarterback’s dream.
Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen largely played well in his first start a week ago, completing 20 of 29 passes for 191 yards and a pair of touchdowns. However, the junior also threw two interceptions that led to touchdowns by Louisiana Tech — something he’ll have to correct while making his first road start.
BACK IN THE DAY
The Razorbacks hold a 42-24-2 series victory, and pretty much dominated the last three decades the teams were in the Southwest Conference together. The Razorbacks had won 22 in a row before TCU won at home in 1981. Arkansas then won eight of the next 10, including 22-21 in Fort Worth in the last meeting.
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