#14 Texas A&M Aggies vs Arkansas Razorbacks
AT&T Stadium – Arlington, Texas
Saturday, September 26, 2015, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Texas A&M -5 1/2
Current Line: Texas A&M -7
Opening Total: 60
Current Total: 58
Opening Money Line: TAMU -300 / Arkansas +240
Current Money Line: TAMU -290 / Arkansas +230
At the beginning of the season, the Arkansas Razorbacks were a trendy dark horse pick to contend for the SEC West title. It certainly hasn’t worked out that way as the Razorbacks have started off the season 1-2 before SEC play even started. It doesn’t get any easier as the Razorbacks take on the 3-0 Texas A&M Aggies Saturday in Arlington, Texas. This is the SEC opener for both schools.
Arkansas leads the series 41-27-3 against Texas A&M, but the Aggies have won three straight games in the series. Texas A&M won last year’s meeting 35-28 in overtime, also in Arlington. This is the fourth time since 2009 that the two teams have played at AT&T Stadium, with Arkansas winning 3 of those games. The teams will play in Arlington at least for the next nine seasons after this game.
Texas A&M is coached by Kevin Sumlin. The Aggies have convincing wins over Arizona State 38-17 in Houston, along with home wins over Ball State 56-23 and last week against Nevada 44-27. The game against Nevada wouldn’t even have been that close if Texas A&M hadn’t had to settle for three red zone field goals. Texas A&M was a 32 point favorite against Nevada and the total was 65. The Aggies are 2-1 ATS and the total is 2-1 as well.
Arkansas, coached by Bret Bielema, opened the season with a 48-13 win over UTEP at home. Since then, Arkansas has lost two straight games to Toledo 16-12 in Little Rock and last week 35-24 to Texas Tech in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks were 9.5 point favorites against Texas Tech and the total was 69. The game was a little sloppy as both teams had two turnovers and a missed field goal. Arkansas is 1-2 ATS and the total is also 1-2 this season.
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Texas A&M is outscoring teams 46-22 this season. The Aggies are #14 in scoring nationally. Texas A&M averages 488 yards per game on offense including 261 passing and 227 rushing. The Aggies are in the top 50 nationally in all three categories. TAMU allows 337 yards per game on defense, including 175 passing and 162 rushing yards. The Aggies have six turnovers and have forced four this season. Texas A&M averages 55 penalty yards per game and opponents average 30 per game. The Aggies are 22/47 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 13/51. TAMU has forced 15 sacks and allowed 10 this season. The Aggies are 17/20 scoring in the red zone with 13 touchdowns and opponents are 11/13 with 5 touchdowns. Texas A&M has a pick six and a punt return for a touchdown.
Quarterback Kyle Allen has completed 61.4% of his passes for 594 yards with 9 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, and has also rushed for 66 yards on 22 carries with 2 touchdowns. Kyler Murray has also taken a few snaps. He has thrown for 146 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and has also rushed for 75 yards on 11 carries.
Running back Tra Carson has 61 carries for 292 yards and a touchdown, along with 2 catches for 26 yards and a touchdown. Kwame Etwi has 14 carries for 120 yards. Brice Dolezal has 20 carries for 107 yards and a touchdown. James White is questionable with an undisclosed injury.
Receiver Christian Kirk has 16 catches for 269 yards and 2 touchdowns. Josh Reynolds has 8 catches for 136 yards and 3 touchdowns. Damion Ratley has 7 catches for 93 yards. Ricky Seals-Jones has 9 catches for 83 yards. Speedy Noil has 6 catches for 68 yards and a touchdown. Jeremy Tabuyo has 3 catches for 42 yards and a touchdown.
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Arkansas is outscoring teams 28-21 this season. The Razorbacks are averaging 476 total yards per game including 305 passing and 171 rushing yards. Arkansas is in the top 35 in passing and total offense, but the vaunted running game has struggled. The Razorbacks are allowing 336 total yards per game including 233 passing and 103 rushing yards. Arkansas is in the top 50 in total defense, rush defense and points allowed nationally. The Razorbacks have forced 5 turnovers and only have one giveaway this season. Arkansas averages 65 penalty yards per game and opponents average 34 per game. The Razorbacks are 20/40 on third and fourth down conversions, while opponents are 23/46. Arkansas has forced one sack and hasn’t allowed one yet. The Razorbacks are 9/14 scoring in the red zone with 5 touchdowns and opponents are 8/10 with 6 touchdowns.
Quarterback Brandon Allen has completed 67.4% of his passes for 916 yards with 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, and has 10 carries for 44 yards. Running back Alex Collins has 60 carries for 351 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 3 catches. Rawleigh Williams has 25 carries for 80 yards, plus 4 catches. Kody Walker is questionable with a hand injury. Running back Jonathan Williams is out for the season with a broken foot. He rushed for over a 1,000 yards last year.
Three key wide receivers are out indefinitely. Keon Hatcher is out with a foot injury. Hatcher has 13 catches for 198 yards and 2 touchdowns. Hunter Henry has 10 catches for 191 yards and a touchdown. Jared Cornelius is out indefinitely with an arm injury. He has 7 catches for 150 yards and a touchdown. Drew Morgan has 10 catches for 148 yards and 2 touchdowns. Cody Hollister is out with a foot injury.
Texas A&M is 7-2 ATS against teams with losing records, 10-4 in September, 2-5 on fieldturf, 3-8 after failing to cover, 4-11 in neutral site games, 1-4 after scoring 40 points or more, and after passing for 280 yards or more, 1-6 in SEC games, and 1-7 after rushing for 200 yards or more.
Arkansas is 7-0 ATS after rushing for 200 yards or more, 4-0 after allowing 280 passing yards or more, 5-1 after failing to cover, 10-3 against teams with winning records, 6-2 after a straight up loss in September, 11-4 overall, 5-2 in SEC games, 10-4 on fieldturf, 9-4 after allowing more than 450 total yards, and 2-6 in neutral site games. The razorbacks have covered 5 of the last 6 against the Aggies.
This is a virtual must win game for Arkansas, but the problem is they are decimated by injury in the wide receiver unit. Texas A&M is much improved on defense under new coordinator John Chavis, but they still have a long way to go. I think the Aggies win a close game in what should be a relatively low scoring game.