The Arkansas Razorbacks are 2-2, and up next is the No. 8 Texas A&M Aggies.
Outside the second half of the 37-10 loss to the No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs, the Arkansas Razorbacks haven’t had a bad, extended stretch yet this season. After beating a solid Mississippi State Bulldogs team 21-14, they barely “lost” to Auburn in a heated battle that ended up 30-28. Then Arkansas came back home to Razorback Stadium and smashed the Ole Miss Rebels 33-21.
Now, the Hogs head into the tungsten-tough heart of the 2020 schedule. After the Aggies, it’s Tennessee, then the No. 10 Florida Gators in the Swamp before getting the LSU Tigers back in Arkansas. A good showing in Texas could mean the difference between a January bowl game and a toilet bowl.
Arkansas vs. Texas A&M By the Numbers
Based on fancy ESPN calculations, the Razorbacks are rated as 2.9 points better than the average team. Meanwhile, the Texas A&M Aggies are rated 11 points better than average (think Army, UAB, Buffalo, or Washington State).
But that’s how the teams are weighed when playing a neutral field. The fact that the Aggies will be playing at Kyle Field should give them 3-point home advantage. So, when you factor those numbers in, the point spread should be initially set with the Texas A&M Aggies as 11-point favorites. This is exactly what the sportsbooks have for the odds on this game.
But let’s break the matchup down a bit further to see if those odds are correct.
Arkansas is scoring 23 points per game, and the Aggies are averaging 27.5 per game. Which Aggies team will show up, however, is the question. It could be the one that only managed to put up 17 points against the Vanderbilt Commodores, or the one that hung 41 on Florida.
In two road games so far, the Razorbacks have played slightly better on offense improving their scoring average to 24.5. The Hogs’ road defense has been pretty stout at just 22 per game allowed, down from 25.5 allowed overall. Comparatively, the Aggies’ D has been porous, allowing 29 points per game. Their home defense is only as good as the Hogs’ overall defense, at 25 points per game.
When we see that the Razorbacks average 24.5 points on the road while only allowing 22 and the Aggies score 29 per game at home while allowing 25, it looks like there is some value on the Razorbacks to get the backdoor cover, even against a physical defense like Texas A&M’s.
“They’re very, very physical, very big and very aggressive at safeties,” Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman said this week. “I mean very aggressive. Their safeties are almost like outside inside linebackers, coming down to the ball. So they got them playing really well and they’re playing with a lot of confidence. You can just feel it once you take on them.”
What’s also scary about this game is the number of yards the Aggies put up and the margin in yards per play. The Aggies are averaging 7.09 yards per play at home compared to the Razorbacks’ 5.09. This could result in a larger scoring differential than scoring statistics imply. On top of that, we have equal passing offenses, the Hogs putting up 265 yards through the air per game on the road, and the Aggies putting up 263.5 per game at home. But the Aggies pound the rock on the ground for about 100 yards per game more than the Hogs. Arkansas puts up a respectable 91 yards per game on the road, but the Aggies are gutting defenses for 194. That kind of rushing attack can lead to tired defensive units that end up getting scored on later in the game.
Preview Arkansas-Texas A&M here:
The Aggies showed how their ability to grind away on teams against Florida. Although trailing when entering the fourth quarter of that game, they put up 17 points on Gators down the homestretch to scrape out a 41-38 win.
This line is really tightly set. We’ll probably see a 10-point game. That said, if the line moves to 12, hop on the Hogs to get the back door cover. This will be a competitive and exciting game. Although it’s one the Arkansas Razorbacks can win, I believe the home-field advantage and explosive running game will be a bit too much for Arkansas s to walk away with its first victory in the series since 2011.
However, in this new era under Sam Pittman, anything is possible.
Here’s Arkansas quarterback Feleipe Franks talking about Arkansas-Texas A&M:
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