It’s been a tough two weeks for Arkansas, and things don’t get any easier against Texas A&M this weekend. The Aggies have soared up to No. 14 after not being ranked in the preseason, and are coming off 44-27 win over Nevada. The Razorbacks come into Saturday’s game in Arlington, Texas, having lost their last two contests to Toledo and Texas Tech, respectively.
Texas A&M (3-0) at Arkansas (1-2), Saturday 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Line: The Aggies are favored by 7.5 points
Numbers to know:
*Arkansas holds a 41-27-3 all-time record against Texas A&M. The Aggies have won the last three meetings, taking last year’s contest with a 35-28 overtime victory. Texas A&M outgained the Razorbacks 523-484 last season while passing for 386 yards.
*Texas A&M comes into the game leading the nation in sacks (15) and tackles for loss (36). The Aggies average five sacks per game and also collect 12 tackles for loss per contest.
*Arkansas has struggled to get of the field this season, allowing opponents to convert on 51 percent of third-down conversions. That ranks the Razorbacks No. 119 out of 128 schools in the FBS.
*Texas A&M quarterback Kyle Allen has the third-highest passer rating of all quarterbacks in the SEC (169.43). Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen isn’t far behind him, boasting the No. 4-ranked passer rating in the conference (168.20)
*Arkansas has been able to move the ball fairly well this season, but has struggle in the red zone. The Razorbacks rank No. 13 in the SEC on red zone conversions while capitalizing on just 64.29 percent of scoring opportunities. Only eight teams in the FBS have a worst red zone conversion rate.
Story lines to watch:
*Can Arkansas capitalize on must-win game? It’s early in the season, but this is a pivotal game for the Razorbacks. After digging themselves into a hole during the first three weeks, the Razorbacks can’t afford too many more losses. Nine games remain on the schedule. Lose this one, and you have eight games to pick up five wins in order to qualify for a bowl game. That may seem doable, but Arkansas has a tough road ahead, including games against Tennessee, No. 12 Alabama, Auburn, No. 3 Ole Miss, No. 8 LSU, Mississippi State and No. 25 Missouri. This one is huge for the Hogs.
*Offensive line vs. Defensive line: Arkansas hasn’t let up a sack yet this season while Texas A&M comes in with statistically the best defensive line in the nation. Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett leads the nation in sacks (5.5), and has been a handful for every tackle that’s tried to stop him. Saturday’s matchup will feature a quick and agile Aggies’ line against the big boys from Arkansas. On the other side of the ball, the Razorbacks have only gotten to the quarterback once, while Texas A&M has allowed 10 sacks on the year.
*Different styles of play: These two teams couldn’t be more different. Kevin Sumlin’s Texas A&M squad plays fast and features a spread offense, while Arkansas takes more of an old-school, smash-mouth approach. It’ll be interesting to see how the contrast plays out at AT&T Stadium on Saturday. Arkansas better be well-conditioned, and Texas A&M better be ready for a physical matchup.
Prediction: Texas A&M 30, Arkansas 20