Arkansas Razorbacks (3-1 SU, 3-1 ATS) vs. No. 6 Texas A&M Aggies (4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS)
College Football Week 5
Date and Time: Saturday, September 27th, 2014. 3:30PM EST
Where: AT&T Stadium Arlington, T.X.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Ark +8.5/A&M -8.5
Over/Under Total: 71.5
This Saturday the Arkansas Razorbacks and the no. 6 Texas A&M Aggies rekindle the flame on an age old rivalry when both teams meet inside of AT&T Stadium in Arlington. This rivalry first started in 1903 and has donned the title of the “Southwest Classic” in recent years due to both schools Southwest Conference roots. The Aggies have posted big numbers in each of the past two meetings which resulted in wins by the Aggies with scores of 58-10 in 2012 and then 45-33 last year. The Aggies have firmly established their selves as one of the best offenses in the country again this season averaging 55 points per game (2nd in FBS). However, Arkansas has been awfully strong as well racking up 48.8 points per game (3rd in FBS) this season and is playing well enough to perhaps finally capture the first monumental win under Bret Bielema.
Arkansas leads the all-time series 41-26-3. Despite going down in each of the past two meetings, the Razorbacks have won the only 3 games ever played on a neutral field which were also all inside AT&T Stadium from 2009 to 2011. For this year’s contest, Arkansas is currently listed as 8.5 point underdogs after opening the week as 10 point dogs. The Razorbacks have also covered 4 of their last 5 games against the Aggies. The Razorbacks suffered a 45-21 loss to Auburn in the first game of the season but have looked sharp since by trampling both Texas Tech and Northern Illinois in the past two weeks. The Razorbacks are currently the only team in the SEC West that is not ranked. However at 3-1 SU, a win could easily vault Arkansas well into the top 25 and could also open up the possibility of having all 7 teams from the SEC West ranked inside the top 25 which would be an NCAA first for college football.
The intriguing aspect of this Saturday’s match-up resides on the offensive side of the ball for both teams. The Aggies and the Razorbacks each have one of the most prolific offenses in the country. However both have very different ways of attacking on offense. The Aggies are poised behind a quick striking pass offense behind the arm of Kenny “Trill”. The Aggies new star quarterback has racked up 1,359 passing yards and 13 touchdowns with just 1 pick through his first 4 games of the season while completing 70% of his targets which scream in comparison to his predecessor Johnny Football. Wide outs Malcome Kennedy and Josh Reynolds are big time receiving targets that add to the Aggies offensive prowess that is once again among the best passing offenses in the country.
Meanwhile Arkansas’s offense is quite the contrast to the Aggies as they do most of their work on the ground. The Razorbacks rank near the bottom of the country in passing but are very explosive in the running game. Arkansas running backs Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams have carried the offense to an outstanding 324 yards per game average on the ground which is the 8th best mark in the FBS. Both Collins and Williams have combined for nearly 900 yards on the ground and 12 touchdowns through the first 4 games of the season as statistically the best 1-2 combo in the country. The Razorbacks rushing offense was held in check against Auburn but have really come on strong in recent weeks. Arkansas put up nearly 450 yards of offense on the ground in the win against the Aggies and it will interesting to see if they can sustain their rushing success in this big rivalry showdown on Saturday.
While most of the focus will be on the offenses this weekend, I am particularly eager to see the defensive play. The Aggies were awful on defense last year and still fairly young. Texas A&M has held teams to just 11.8 points per game as the 8th best scoring defense in the country this season but they have only played 1 true opponent in South Carolina. Arkansas’s defense is nothing to brag about but they did hold one of the best passing offenses in the country to just 28 points in the victory against Texas Tech. Therefore, defense or lack thereof will likely have the final say into determining Saturday’s outcome.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I don’t think this is a good match-up for Texas A&M as the Razorbacks can chew up the clock and wear down this Texas A&M defense. The Aggies have plenty of firepower to put up a big number but I think Arkansas’s ability to control the clock will give them a chance at the victory. Take Arkansas +8.5