College Football Preview – Texas A&M Aggies vs. Arkansas Razorbacks
One of the most entertaining rivalries in college football over the last few seasons has been the burgeoning one between the Texas A&M Aggies and Arkansas Razorbacks. These programs used to square off annually in the Southwest Conference, but it has taken on new meaning since the Aggies joined the SEC in 2012. Although the Aggies have won all nine meetings since joining the conference, three of those games went into overtime and there has only been one blowout in the last seven years.
After moving to College Station last year due to COVID, this rivalry has once again returned to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The game will take place on Saturday, September 25, 2021, at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS.
College Football Betting Odds
Texas A&M -5
There has been a lot of buzz surrounding No. 18 Arkansas. The Razorbacks struggled with Rice for a while before putting the Owls away, but they hammered Texas and Georgia Southern in their last two games to move to 3-0. Sam Pittman has this team looking sharp, and many are calling on the Razorbacks to pull off the upset this weekend.
Texas A&M is not as formidable as some thought at the start of the season. Starting quarterback Haynes King is sidelined with a fractured leg, so the defense has had to stand tall in wins over Kent State, Colorado, and New Mexico.
When Texas A&M Has the Ball
Zach Calzada will start his second game under center for the Aggies. Calzada wasn’t great when pressed into duty against Colorado, completing just 47.4% of his passes for 183 yards and averaging 4.8 YPA, but he was better against lowly New Mexico last week. Jimbo Fisher is one of the best quarterback developers in the country, yet it might take him some more time for Calzada to play well in this system.
Fisher will try to take the air out of the ball to take the pressure off Calzada. Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane have been a strong one-two punch, as each back is averaging at least 6.3 YPC. Tight end Jalen Wydermyer is arguably the best at his position in the country too, giving Calzada a reliable option underneath.
The Razorbacks have been great at defending the pass this season. Arkansas is conceding just 5.0 YPA and 142.0 YPG through the air. Opposing running backs haven’t been too successful as well, averaging 3.2 YPC.
When Arkansas Has the Ball
K.J. Jefferson hasn’t had to throw much, but he is averaging 10.0 YPA when he takes to the air. He is the Razorbacks’ second-leading rusher with 180 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 7.5 YPC as one of the more underrated dual-threat quarterbacks in the country.
Arkansas has a formidable ground game that is averaging 6.1 YPC. Five different players have run for 100 yards, led by Trelon Smith. Treylon Burks and Tyson Morris are the top targets in the receiving game for the Hogs.
The Aggies have the best pass defense in the country through the first month of the season. They are allowing just 3.0 YPA, leading to TAMU ranking first in scoring defense, sixth in total defense, and fourth in yards per play. Defensive coordinator Mike Elko has thrived since leaving South Bend for College Station.
This is the best chance that Arkansas has had to knock off Texas A&M in the last decade. The Razorbacks will take full advantage and put an end to their longest losing streak against the Aggies.