Game Time: 9 p.m. ET
How to watch online: WatchESPN
Odds: Texas A&M opened as 3-point favorites. The line has since bumped up to 6 points in the Aggies’ favor. (via OddsShark)
Arkansas and Texas A&M head to JerryWorld for the annual meeting of two old Southwest Conference rivals now entrenched in the SEC West.
Here are three things to watch:
Can Austin Allen and Trevor Knight repeat on the big stage?
Two weeks ago, I wrote that Arkansas’ trip to Fort Worth against TCU would be decided by the play of the younger Allen. Allen showed grit and determination that night, winning a double-overtime thriller that showed that the Hogs had all the makings of team that could compete for an SEC West title. The Razorbacks will go as far as Allen takes them, and another primetime win in Dallas-Fort Worth area certainly would help their chances moving forward.
Knight has found a new home in College Station and settled in nicely after a mass quarterback exodus out of Aggieland. I still can’t get over the fact that Knight will be the third quarterback in as many years to start for the Aggies against Arkansas. Up until this point, it hasn’t mattered who’s started with A&M coming out on top in each meeting. Knight has played fairly well in each of A&M’s marquee match-ups against UCLA and at Auburn. Knight has the confidence of his teammates and coaching staff, but I still have my reservations about Knight, while still recognizing the talent that he possesses.
Texas A&M run defense vs. Rawleigh Williams
Williams has rushed for 354 yards in the first three weeks of the season, good for third best in the SEC, and is poised to become another of the patented hard-nosed running backs to have played for Bret Bielema. Fellow backs Kodi Walker and Devwah Waley should also see a number of carries against the Aggie front.
Texas A&M has finished last or near the bottom of the SEC in rushing defense since their arrival in the conference. Thus far, the Aggies have moved up to a respectable seventh place ranking through the first three weeks. Highly-touted defensive ends Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall have been known for their prowess as pass rushers. This season the two have made it a priority to become strong run stoppers in an effort to bring respectability to that unit. Defensive tackle Dylon Mack will need to have a significant impact of his own in handling Williams & Co.
Can the Razorbacks keep up the early season momentum?
The story of the first month has typically been that of a slow start for the boys in Fayetteville. So far, Bielema and his guys have bucked that trend, thanks to a surivng an opening weekend upset against Louisiana Tech, followed by the aforementioned win at TCU and subsequent beat down of Texas State.
The feeling has been that if the Hogs could start fast and continue their stereotypical strong finish to the season, that an SEC West title could be in play. Defeating A&M in Arlington would go a long way to proving that the road win at TCU wasn’t a fluke and would likely set up a match-up of unbeaten’s when Alabama visits on October 8.
Since joining the SEC, A&M has won all four meetings against the Razorbacks. This has been a game that Arkansas probably should have won each of the past two seasons. Somehow the Razorbacks found a way to lose each game in overtime allowing A&M to remain undefeated. I like what Knight brings to the Aggies offense with his leadership and experience, but I’m not falling for the early season charade that this program typically puts on.
I’m all in on being Bert Bielema and the Hogs.
Prediction: Arkansas 35, Texas A&M 28 in OT