Texas Longhorns (6-6 SU, 7-5 ATS) vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (6-6 SU, 9-3 ATS)
Advocare V100 Texas Bowl Preview
Date and Time: Monday December 29th, 2014. 9:00PM EST
Where: NRG Stadium Houston, T.X.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: UT +6.5/ARK -6.5
Over/Under Total: 46
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The Arkansas Razorbacks will make a postseason appearance for the first time in 3 years when they meet the Texas Longhorns inside NRG Stadium in Houston on December 29th. The Razorbacks actually made a little noise in the SEC during the final few weeks of the season with back to back shutout victories over LSU and Ole Miss. After going 3-9 last year, Bret Bielema has helped double the Razorbacks win in his 2nd season in Fayetteville and it appears the program is heading in the right direction. If the Razorbacks can pull out another win against the Longhorns in the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl, it will mark their first winning season since 2011.
Meanwhile the Longhorns will also be trying to get above the .500 mark after a rather disappointing 6-6 season in Charlie Strongs first year in Austin. The Longhorns put together a rather strong defensive resume over the course of the year holding opponents to just 23 points per game. However, it was horrendous offensive play that cursed the Longhorns throughout the season. The Texas offense ranked 83rd in passing, 88th in rushing, and 104th in scoring averaging just 22 points per game. Quarterback Tyrone Swoopes has been largely ineffective hitting just 58% of his passes for 13 scores and 10 interceptions. Neither running back Malcolm Brown nor Jonathan Gray has lived up to the expectations the offense had hoped for entering the season. In fact, the only true consistent playmaker on offense has been wide receiver John Harris who has 64 catches for 1,015 yards with 7 touchdowns.
The big question for Texas entering the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl is how is the offense going to fare against Arkansass extremely tough defense? Arkansas will be among the best defensive groups the Longhorns have faced all year. Arkansas gave up just 20.3 points per game on the year which was the 16th best mark in the FBS. The Razorbacks defense plays extremely well against the run meaning Texas will have to hope for good things from quarterback Tyrone Swoopes. However on the other side of the ball, things will be fairly similar when a solid Texas defense attempts to get the best of the Razorbacks offense.
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On paper, Arkansas has not posted any crazy statistics that jump out. The offense ranks 99th in passing and has averaged 32 points per game (48th). However, Arkansas puts a ton of emphasis on their running attack behind tailbacks Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins. Both tailbacks have eclipsed the 1,000 yard plateau on the season and have posted nearly identical numbers while sharing carries. Williams has carried the ball 187 times for 1,085 yards with 11 touchdowns. Collins has one less carry and has posted 1,024 yards with 12 touchdowns. Together the two backs help compile a strong Arkansas rushing attack that ranks 28th in the FBS averaging 220 yards per game. If Arkansas can keep the chains moving with their ground attack and perhaps get a little help from quarterback Brandon Allen, they should be able to keep pressure on the Longhorns defense. Perhaps if Arkansas can keep enough pressure on the Texas defense, they can wear the Texas defense down like they have done against many of their opponents this season.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The total for this game is pretty low in respect to both defenses. Arkansas has found the under in 4 of their last 5 games while Texas has also found the under mark in 4 of their last 5 games as well. Therefore from a trends perspective, the under may be a play worth considering again especially if you consider how much Arkansas will keep the ball on the ground which will chew up the clock. Additionally, I think Arkansas will be too much to handle in this game from their balance on offense. Quarterback Brandon Allen will be the difference in this game as the Razorbacks prove they can also throw the football. Take Arkansas -6.5!