#10 Texas A&M (3-1, 0-1) at Arkansas (3-1, 0-0)
Saturday, 7 PM EST, ESPN 2
Line: Not set (awaiting status of Brandon Allen)
When Texas A&M joined the SEC, Arkansas was firmly entrenched in the top half of the SEC West. Since A&M has come aboard, the Razorbacks have fallen on hard times. Last year, the Hogs went just 4-8 including a 58-10 blowout loss in College Station. Arkansas hired Wisconsin's Bret Bielema this off-season and he's been working hard to change the recent luck of the Hogs. The Hogs come into this game at 3-1 but are coming off of a road loss to Rutgers where Arkansas had a 17 point lead but let the Scarlet Knights score 21 unanswered points to win the game.
The Aggies come into this game at 3-1 with their only loss being to Alabama. Last week, the Aggies bounced back from their loss to the Tide by jumping on SMU early and not letting up until they had a 26 point half-time lead. On paper this game looks like a bit of a mis-match as you have to wonder if Arkansas has the horses on offense to keep pace in a track meet with A&M.
For Arkansas to win: Arkansas needs to control the football and keep Johnny Manziel and the Aggies potent offense on the sideline and out of rhythm. The Hogs also need to strike early and keep the crowd into the game. Lastly, the Razorbacks need to keep the Aggies from hitting the big play. Make Manziel and his offense work their way down the field and convert on third down.
For A&M to win: Get out to a quick start and keep putting points on the board. The Razorbacks best chance to win this game is to make this into an ugly low scoring game as they simply can't match the Aggies punch for punch. If the Aggies put enough puts on the board, the Razorbacks won't be able to keep up.
Key Player (Arkansas): Alex Collins. Through four games, Collins has the most rushing yards in the SEC and is fifth in the Nation. Oh yeah, he's also just a true freshman. With Arkansas QB Brandon Allen in doubt for Saturday's game and his back-up AJ Derby's inability to move the Hogs offense in his absence, it will be even more important for Collins to be the focal point of the offense. Look for Collins to get the ball early and often against an A&M defense that so far is, at least statistically, the worst rushing defense in the SEC.
Key Player (A&M): Johnny Manziel. Did you think I was going to pick somebody else? Four games into the season, Manziel ranks first in the SEC in yards passing and passing TDs and he's also 11th in rushing. What I'd like to see from Manziel in this game is to spread the ball around a bit more. The Aggies have a ton of options on offense but they don't always get to see the ball.
Key Stat: The year prior to A&M joining the SEC, the Aggies went 7-6 and Arkansas went 11-2. Since then the Aggies have gone 14-3 and the Razorbacks have gone 7-9.