First look at the upcoming opponent for Texas A&M football
The matchup between Texas A&M football and the Arkansas Razorbacks is perennially strange; either the game is far closer than it should be, something out-of-the-ordinary happens, or both! During the Chad Morris years up in Fayetteville, the Aggies escaped the Hogs by a single score in both games despite having a far better team each time. Last year, a doinked field goal by Arkansas and a 99-yard fumble return with a handoff in the middle of it gave the Aggies the win. What tomfoolery will take place this year has yet to be seen.
Arkansas limps into this matchup having lost both of their last two games, including blowing a two-score lead to lowly BYU (who lost to Kansas the following week). They looked better against LSU last week, but devoted readers (all two of you) should know that I am not very high on the Tigers in general this year.
The Hogs’ best asset right now is their rush defense, which is 20th in the country by the yards per carry mark. However, this is doubtless buoyed by allowing less than one YPC to Kent State, one of the worst teams in FBS, and a shade over 2 YPC to Western Carolina, an FCS squad. A closer look at the numbers reveals that both Power 5 teams they have faced—BYU and LSU—have exceeded their rushing averages against the Razorback defense. Conversely, the Razorbacks—despite boasting a former OL coach as their head man, and a dynamic rushing duo in Jefferson and RB Rocket Sanders—have lacked somewhat in their rushing production this year. Even against inferior competition, they have yet to exceed 5 YPC in a single game.
The passing defense for the Razorbacks is their real Achilles heel, at least so far. The Hogs are the 109th-ranked defense by YPA allowed (averaging 8.4 YPA defensively), and each of their opponents has exceeded their season-long average by that mark when playing them. Even if Conner Weigman is not yet healed up by the time this game rolls around, this presents an opportunity for the passing game for Texas A&M football.
One concern is the ability that Jefferson showed against LSU to push the ball downfield; however, as I said, I am not high on the Tigers, so I don’t worry too terribly much about that. I consider the LSU defensive backfield to be worse than A&M’s (which the numbers bear out so far), so I think the Ags can rein in the Hogs on that front, especially if they play the same style of defense as they did against Auburn. Arkansas has talent on the outside, but I don’t see them testing the Aggies the same way Miami did.
I’m pulled in two directions here: on the one hand, this game is always way closer than it needs to be. On the other, I see this as a bad matchup for the Hogs in a way that it hasn’t been over the last few years. I think that Arkansas will score late to make this one closer than it will look via the stat sheet, and the final score will look something like 30-20.