Vegas’ Opening Line for Arkansas vs Texas A&M Smacks of Overreaction

Arkansas, Texas A&M football
photo credit: Nick Wenger

Overreactions. They’re big in sports.

Imagine the meltdown that would have occurred had Arkansas lost to Bobby Petrino and Missouri State on Saturday night. Heck, even Sam Pittman acknowledged things would have been disastrous afterward. Not Jack-Crowe-resigns disastrous, but spectacularly miserable, nonetheless. 

Instead, the specter of Petrino’s motorcycle wreck has been exorcized after the Razorbacks pulled out a 37-28 win. They needed to rally from a 17-0 hole and another 10-point one in the fourth quarter. Las Vegas, of course, noticed and, frankly, it’s a bit of an overreaction.

Arkansas was picked to finish third in the SEC, just behind Texas A&M and perennial national-title contender Alabama. The masses have been high on the Hogs all summer and into the fall. Some of that faith may be withering, though, as oddsmakers have the Aggies opening as a 2.5-point favorite in Week 4’s Southwest Classic in Arlington, Texas.

Ambivalence prevails.

Looking Ahead to Arkansas vs Texas A&M

See, it mostly makes sense. Arkansas struggled mightily against an FCS team at home. Near-miracles were required – Bryce Stephens, hello – for the Hogs to escape a permanent Petrino haunting over the program. The defense gave up 357 yards passing and is clearly in some trouble with the loss of Jalen Catalon for the season and Myles Slusher for the last two-and-a-half games.

But, see, well, Robert De Niro says it best in “Heat.”

There's a flip side to that coin.

For crying out loud, Texas A&M did actually get beat. By an inferior team. Appalachian State, which beat A&M in Week 2, needed its own miracle to get past Troy on Saturday. If Troy and Missouri State were to play, I’m taking the Bears. The Aggies bounced back and knocked off Miami late Saturday night, but in what universe are the 244 yards of total offense Texas A&M put up confidence-inspiring? Besides, Arkansas wasn’t that far behind Jimbo Fisher’s bunch in many minds even before the season began. The Hogs started the year ranked in the low 20s. Not exactly slouching.

Vegas is Vegas for a reason, however. The house always wins. And Arkansas didn’t give the casinos much reason to credit them based off their performance against Missouri State. Entering Saturday, the Hogs were 129th out of 131 teams in FBS in pass defense and now ranks dead last. If an FCS team – even one coached by mad-genius Petrino – dropped 357 yards of them, then serious problems exist in the Arkansas secondary.

Stats to Consider

Either way, I wouldn’t touch the game with a 39-and-a-half-foot pole that The Grinch himself is holding at my command. Sure, the Aggies have won nine of the last 10 meetings. Last year’s was Arkansas’, though, and five of the nine victories before that were single-digit ones. Not that something that happened in 2012 or 2013 or 2014 or whenever matters all that much, but it’s evidence of the battiness of the game.

Texas A&M’s calling card in 2022 has been its defense. And it’s undoubtedly good. The Aggies are giving up just over 301 yards a game through three weeks. Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, who threw for almost 3,000 yards and had 26 touchdowns last year, was a poor 21 of 41 for 217 yards in Saturday’s game. But the Texas A&M rushing defense also gave up 175 yards on the ground to the Hurricanes. Arkansas running back Rocket Sanders nearly put up that many by himself against Missouri State. No, the Bears aren’t Miami, but Sanders is third in the nation in yards-per-game, averaging 147 each time out.

Consider, too, Pittman’s teams have never played back-to-back poor games. Last year’s 37-0 loss at Georgia was followed by a near-win against Ole Miss the next week. Even in his first year with Arkansas, after a 63-35 loss to Florida, the Hogs followed with a three-point loss to LSU. In other words, Pittman, who regularly says “we have to fix” after Arkansas’ games, usually practices what he preaches.

Count on that being the case in Jerry’s World again. Arkansas could certainly lose. But, frankly, Vegas, I’m not betting on that.

Betting Line History – Arkansas vs Texas A&M

Arkansas is no stranger to being the underdog in this series. In fact, Texas A&M has been favored in each of the last 11 matchups, a trend those who bet online now with 1xBet are familiar with.

Although the Aggies dominated the Southwest Classic with nine straight wins and leads the event 9-4, those results are flipped when you look at the performance against the spread. The Razorbacks have covered four straight and are 9-4 against the spread since 2009.

It has also been a highly competitive series. Seven of the 13 matchups were decided by 7 points or less and another three were decided by 10-12 points. The other three were blowouts by 21-plus, but even one of those was a one-score game into the fourth quarter.

Here’s a rundown of the betting line history for Arkansas vs Texas A&M:

  • 2021: Texas A&M, -4.5 (Arkansas covered and won outright)
  • 2020: Texas A&M, -14.5 (Arkansas covered, losing by 11)
  • 2019: Texas A&M, -23 (Arkansas covered, losing by 4)
  • 2018: Texas A&M, -19.5 (Arkansas covered, losing by 7)
  • 2017: Texas A&M, -2 (A&M covered, winning by 7)
  • 2016: Texas A&M, -7 (A&M covered, winning by 21)
  • 2015: Texas A&M, -6 (A&M covered, winning by 7)
  • 2014: Texas A&M, -7.5 (Arkansas covered, losing by 7)
  • 2013: Texas A&M, -13.5 (Arkansas covered, losing by 12)
  • 2012: Texas A&M, -13 (A&M covered, winning by 48)
  • 2011: Texas A&M, -2.5 (Arkansas covered and won outright)
  • 2010: Arkansas, -6 (Arkansas covered, winning by 7)
  • 2009: Arkansas, -10 (Arkansas covered, winning by 28)


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