Arkansas (1-3) at Texas A&M (2-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 29, 12:21 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Kyle Field (82,589) -- College Station, Texas. Television: SEC Network. Home Record: UA 1-2, A&M 1-1. Away Record: UA 0-1, A&M 1-0. Neutral Record: UA 0-0, A&M 0-0. Conference Record: UA 0-1, A&M 0-1. Series Record: UA leads, 41-24-3.
GAME NOTES: The Arkansas Razorbacks are set for their first SEC road test of the season, as they face new league member Texas A&M at Kyle Field in College Station this weekend.
Arkansas has beaten the Aggies inside Cowboys Stadium in each of the last three seasons. UA leads the all-time series, 41-24-3.
However, the Razorbacks have struggled this season. After beginning the 2012 campaign with a win over Jacksonville State of the Football Championship Subdivision, the Razorbacks have since lost three in a row. The latest of those setbacks came at home against Rutgers this past Saturday, 35-26.
The Aggies kicked off their season with a narrow 20-17 loss to No. 11 Florida, which was also their SEC debut. They have rebounded with back-to-back lopsided wins over SMU (48-3) and South Carolina State (70-14), although they are sure to face a stiffer test against Arkansas. Following this tilt, Texas A&M will hit the road for five of its next six.
Arkansas wideout Cobi Hamilton had a monster day, breaking SEC single-game records with 303 receiving yards and a 30.3 yards per catch average. Hamilton also tied the school record and became just the third Razorback in school history to have three touchdown receptions in one game. Senior quarterback Tyler Wilson threw for 419 yards in the victory, and in the process he became the sixth Razorback in school history to reach 5,000 career passing yards (5,191 yards). Wilson holds 11 school records, including career completion percentage (62.2). UA enters the weekend ranked second in the SEC and 25th in the nation with an average of 294.8 passing yards per game. The Razorbacks are the only SEC team and one of three in the country to pass for 400 yards in multiple games this season.
On the other side of the ball, UA's defense ranks fourth in the SEC and 17th nationally in red zone defense, having held its opponents to 15-of-23 (.650) inside the 20. However, stopping the opposition from marching down the field has been a problem, particularly through the air. The Razorbacks are 108th out of 120 FBS teams in pass efficiency defense (148.9) and they are 111th in pass defense (312.3 ypg). They have also notched just two takeaways, ranking dead- last in the nation in turnover margin (-2.5). Last week, Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova torched the UA secondary for 397 yards and five TDs on 25-of-35 passing. The Scarlet Knights also mixed in 39 run plays, as they nearly doubled Arkansas in time of possession.
Texas A&M's offensive numbers are a bit skewed thanks to recent blowout wins over outmatched SC State and SMU squads. Johnny Manziel tossed three touchdowns and ran for two more last week -- all by halftime. Two of those TD strikes went to Uzoma Nwachukwu. All four of Nwachukwu's receptions this season have been for touchdowns. A week earlier against SMU, Manziel accounted for 418 total yards and six touchdowns in only three quarters. He threw for an Aggies freshman-record 294 yards in that game, also adding in 124 yards and a pair of scores on the ground. Given the way Arkansas has been exploited by the passing game, look for Manziel to have another big day here.
Defensively, the Aggies have been solid, albeit against modest competition. They enter this matchup ranked 12th nationally in both scoring defense (12.3 ppg) and total defense (279.7 ypg). Junior Damontre Moore has been a handful on the defensive line, as he currently leads the nation with 6.0 sacks and 8.0 tackles for loss. While Moore has gotten after the quarterback often, the rest of the front-seven has been stout against the run, limiting opposing offenses to 2.8 yards per carry and 94.0 rushing yards per contest. The Aggies bottled up SC State to 223 total yards last week, but they'll have their hands full with Wilson, Hamilton and the UA passing game.
The Aggies have feasted on lesser competition for the past two weeks. While they'll get a better test this weekend against an SEC foe, Arkansas has some holes on both sides of the ball. Look for the Aggies to take this one in front of the home crowd.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas A&M 27, Arkansas 16
09/26 10:38:26 ET