Two SEC West foes are set to open conference play this Saturday in Dallas. The “home” team, Arkansas, shook things up after an upset win vs. Texas that forced the world to pay attention. This game is the first in a four game stretch for Arkansas where they will play (currently) ranked SEC teams A&M, Georgia, Ole Miss, and Auburn. Two weeks later, they still have Alabama and LSU on the schedule. It’s an uphill battle if there ever was one, but Pittman and the Hogs have an opportunity to go into that gauntlet 4-0 with two ranked wins Two SEC West foes are set to open conference play this Saturday in Dallas. if they pull away in Dallas this Saturday.
The Aggies walk into this matchup with a different attitude, maybe even to a certain extent insulted. This is a team that has strived to be viewed the same way we look at Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and the rest of the college football elite. Last year they were closer than ever, and I’m firmly in the camp that believes they deserved a playoff spot, however, it does seem this team took a step back. Granted, quarterback, the interior of the defensive line, and several other positions have been marred by injury. We haven’t even really seen who this team is yet, but if they can hold on against the Razorbacks, expect that to be a win they build on.
How Arkansas Wins:
Arkansas has everything to gain this Saturday. Taking down A&M propels the Hogs to a top ten ranking and puts some worry in the teams facing them down the stretch. Pittman already found a way to make this team work, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Ground. And. Pound. This Arkansas O-Line has a combination of transfer talent and super seniors exercising an extra year of eligibility after the covid season, that translates to size, strength, and experience. Not something A&M lacks by any means, but I firmly believe the Razorbacks can wear down the A&M run defense. Then, maybe if you’re feeling a little lucky, run the play-action and try to take the top off this defense. If Arkansas can consistently run the ball, this game is theirs to lose.
On defense, their work is cut out for them. I talked a little about how Calzada is coming into this game with more experience. That’s true, but this could be the first time he faces a defense who can actually prepare for Calzada, not King. The film is out now, and Calzada doesn’t have the luxury of mystery this time. If Barry Odom’s defense can shut down Calzada, Hogs run game can take over.
How Texas A&M Wins:
Aggies, listen. You’re the better team. You have a better staff, better roster, more experience, and you’re playing in Dallas. You have some key starters returning on defense and our friend Zach Calzada finally has a couple snaps under his belt. Additionally, and I say this with love in my heart, KJ Jefferson is not the kind of quarterback teams are going to sweat. The talent in the secondary can’t be understated, so you can take the pass away pretty early. Here’s your issue: You might not want to. Arkansas averaged 7.1 yards per carry against the Longhorns, with five different players seeing ten or more rushing attempts.
In what I’ve learned is not a very popular prediction, I’m taking the Razorbacks in this one. Maybe just because I love the idea of a hearty O-Line and a dominant run game, and maybe just because I love what Sam Pittman has done with this program, but I think Arkansas pulls away. The A&M defense is going to be a stiff challenge, don’t get me wrong, and despite not mentioning this aspect of their game earlier, I really believe A&M is capable of running the ball. I watched Spiller make defenses cry last year, but I don’t know if he can keep up with whatever Arkansas throws their way. At 47.5, I’m taking the under and I’m taking the Razorbacks to end the Aggie’s nine year win streak. Woo pig? Sure, just this once.
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