Those Red-Faced Arkansas Faithful Motivate the Bruins
They streamed into town all week long, a vast migration of Arkansas football fans, wearing red outfits and all manner of Razorback headgear, calling the hogs, bent on blowing the Bruins out of the Cotton Bowl Monday with a manic enthusiasm unknown in the land of the palm tree and the guacamole burger. It would be noise vs. poise.
“They ain’t but 3 million folks in all-a Arkansas,” a Dallas taxi driver said the night before the game, “and they’s all here. I had some last night, they got to callin’ the hogs (ie: ‘Soooo-eee!’), like to shook the cab.
“I tell you what, they left 1 lawyer, 1 doctor and 1 po-leeceman back in Fayetteville, and they brought ever-buddy else to Dallas.”
The Bruins tried a different tack. They brought 1 lawyer, 1 doctor and 1 po-leeceman to Dallas, along with a band, and left ever-buddy else back in Westwood.
“You see all this red,” said UCLA tailback Shawn Wills, referring to the 74,000 Razorback fans packing the Cotton Bowl, “and one patch of blue.”
The patch of blue was the several dozen UCLA fans clustered in the East grandstands, most of them school officials and the players’ families. When the Bruins’ Rose Bowl game plans fell through, UCLA fan enthusiasm took a nosedive.
Along with the crowd, the Razorbacks seemingly had every form of motivational advantage you could think of, including the Aikmania Backlash Factor.
The city of Dallas went crazy over Bruin quarterback Troy Aikman, the Cowboys’ pending No. 1 draft pick. The Razorbacks had to be hungry to tee off on Cowboy Troy.
Arkansas just seemed to have a lot to prove. For the Bruins, this game looked like an Aftermath Bowl, a consolation prize for a good season that could have been great.
It was a question of heart: Would the Bruins have theirs in this game?
Signs pointed to the Razorbacks being the more motivated team Monday.
The Bruins, drawing inspiration from some ethereal source, dominated the game like a man with a chain saw dominates a whittlin’ contest.
UCLA hogged the pigskin all afternoon. They turned the red waves powder blue and sent the Razorback faithful shuffling off toward the Cotton Bowl exits early, snouts drooping.
The Bruins turned the vaunted Arkansas flexbone offense into a hambone, holding the Hogs to 2 yards total offense in the second quarter and 42 in the game.
“Ah, man,” sighed Bruin free safety Eric Turner, “that was an easy day’s work.”
To a man, the Bruins said the huge red crowd motivated the wrong team.
“We have Hollywood fans back home, they only yell for big plays,” Turner said. “This kind of crowd just makes you play better.”
Bruin offensive tackle Bobby Menifield said: “Take nothing away from our fans (back home), but there’s something about fans in this area. In the Rose Bowl, there’s never that much noise. I really admire the Arkansas fans.”
The berserk Hog fans simply fueled the underdog fire that Bruin Coach Terry Donahue always stokes up in his boys, regardless of the opponent.
“Actually I like to play in front of big crowds,” UCLA split end Reggie Moore said. “I think the fellas do, too. It kind of raises our expectations up.”
The Razorback fans come early and root hard. As one local observer said, “I ain’t never seen a bunch of fans could wrap themselves up in a football team like these people.”
It’s a truly impressive tide of Hog pride.
“They were outrageous,” Bruin noseguard Jim Wahler said, “I never played for a crowd like this before. But the most satisfying thing is when they shut up.”
This began to happen when Wahler and his teammates started to stuff the hogbone down the Razorbacks’ throats.
“They (Razorbacks) were getting dominated at the line of scrimmage,” Wahler said. “All year long they were doing the dominating.”
A key matchup was supposed to be Razorback fullback Barry Foster vs. Wahler. Foster rushed for 16 yards.
“It was understood that they would attack the middle of our defense,” Wahler said. “It was set up for a 1-on-1 between him (Foster) and me. . . . When I rocked and hit Barry Foster for a loss (late in the first quarter), their linemen started bickering. ‘You missed your block.’ When they start doing that, you know they’re in trouble. . . .
“They think they have the market on toughness, and that’s not the way it is.”
Not when they were going up against the T. Donahue New Year magic. Say what you will about Terry’s coaching in USC games, or how he’s conservative, or a worrywart. The man is carving an incredible legacy of bowl-game success.
This makes 7 bowl straight victories, a DiMaggio-like streak, stretching from 1983 to 89, from Hawaii (Aloha Bowl) to the shores of Lake Dallas.
“I’ve been through 5 bowl games,” cornerback Darryl Henley said, “and he (Donahue) knows how to put it together.”
This victory had to rate high on the Donahue Scale. The Razorbacks really had something to prove. They’re a bunch of down-home kids from such Arkansas towns as Eudora, Malvern, Paris, Hector and Arkadelphia, kids named Elbert and Bubba and JuJu.
The Bruins are the Bruins.
“You know the attitude toward California teams,” Menifield said. “Going out to the field, I heard someone yell, ‘Go back to Disneyland!’ ”
Menifield carefully placed his new Cotton Bowl cowboy hat on his head and smiled.
“I guess I’m goin’ to Disneyland now, though.”