Texas A&M has dominated the Arkansas Razorbacks in recent years, having won the last nine games between the two. But the wins have not come easy. Three of them were overtime wins and two by less than a touchdown. Last season’s 11-point win was the first non-competitive contest in years between the two.
With expectations high for the Aggies following last season’s top ten finish, Texas A&M fans probably did not have this game circled on their schedules as a must-see contest entering the season. Expectations were low for Arkansas after last season’s 3-7 finish. But the Razorbacks will enter the game 3-0 with a dominant win over then-ranked Texas, 40-21.
These Razorbacks do not appear to be the usual Razorbacks. Arkansas might actually be good during the 2021 college football season and could give Texas A&M a run for its money.
Texas A&M Aggies
With the stable of running backs and the stellar defense the Aggies had come back, the expectations were high for Texas A&M heading into 2021. However, whether they would come close to meeting them depended on two things—finding a new quarterback and rebuilding the offensive line. Three games into the season, it is safe to say the defense has been up to the task.
They probably would not have beaten Colorado had the defense not stepped up following the injury to Haynes King. The unit is currently ranked ninth in total defense and first in scoring defense, passing defense, and team passing efficiency defense. However, the running game, while effective, has not been as good as last year’s unit. But that could very well be because the offensive line has struggled a little.
The pass protection has not been great either. It ranks 11th in the conference in sacks allowed and 86th in the nation.
Then there is the biggest question mark of them all—the quarterback. It looked like the Aggies had a good one in Haynes King, but the youngster was lost to an injury early in the game against Colorado. Zach Calzada struggled immensely for most of that contest, but he got the job done in the end. He looked good against New Mexico, but the Lobos were not exactly stiff competition.
The Aggies will need him to continue to progress and for the line to play better if they are going to record a win Saturday. But it is hard to know with any certainty if Calzada and the offensive line are up to the challenge.
Texas A&M vs. Arkansas Odds At Major US Sportsbooks
It is easy to get excited about the Razorbacks. Arkansas only recorded three wins last season, had not recorded more than three total since 2017 (when they had four), and has not been ranked since late in the 2016 season. This season is the first time they have started 3-0 since 2016, and they have done it in a fashion similar to the Aggies.
They have been making the most of their running game (8th best in the nation) and solid defensive play (17th total defense, 12th in passing yards allowed, and 7th in team passing efficiency defense). But the question about them is whether they can do so against better competition. Rice is not exactly considered competitive, and neither is Georgia Southern.
Many would say Texas is, but many more would say the Longhorns are overrated once again.
Luckily, for the Razorbacks, their success in this game will be dependent on their most experienced position group—the offensive line. If the line can open running lanes for KJ Jefferson and Trelon Smith, they can keep the Aggie offense off the field. The line will also need to give Jefferson time to connect with his receivers downfield, which has not been easy against Texas A&M this season.
However, if the offensive line can hold the Aggie pass rush at bay and get the run game going, the Razorbacks may pull off their second big upset of the season.
Sports Betting Recommendation
This game is the first real test for both teams this season. Arkansas is going to find out that it does indeed have a good team. They will have a moderate amount of success against a tough Aggie defense, and they will keep Texas A&M’s offense from running away with the game.
However, in the end, the A&M defense is going to save the day for the Aggies. Calzada and the offense will play better, but the defense will save the day once again. They have been stingy against everyone the Aggies have played. That trend will continue this week and help Texas A&M improve to 4-0. But the game is going to be far from a blowout. Arkansas will push Texas A&M the whole way.
So, from a betting perspective, take Texas A&M to win via the moneyline. But take Arkansas to win against the spread. As for the over/under, this will be a low-scoring game– take the under.