The only SEC clash between the ranked teams will take place on Saturday afternoon when the Texas A&M No.7 and Arkansas No.16 meet at the SEC’s AT&T Stadium on CBS Game of the Week. The Aggies went 3-0 for the first time under coach Jimbo Fisher with a 34-0 win over New Mexico in Week 3. Quarterback Zach Calzada looked solid on his first start in place of Haynes King with 275 passing yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, the defense maintained their strong start in an extremely impressive shutout.
The Razorbacks became one of the favorites to start the season with a 3-0 record, including a big win over Texas. Their punitive hasty attack, led by star Trelon Smith, was one of the SEC’s most effective. Smith leads a group averaging 282.33 yards per game rushing and 6.09 yards per carry, both placing fourth in the conference.
What to expect on Saturday in Jerry World? Let’s break the game down and make some straightforward and anti-spread choices.
Texas A&M vs. Arkansas: what you need to know
It’s on KJ: Texas A&M leads the nation in passing defense with 77.3 yards per game, and its defense overall is one of the deepest and most talented in the country. He’ll get his fair share of wins over the rushed Arkansas offense, which means Razorbacks quarterback KJ Jefferson will need to find a way to be a force in the air in order to cause the upheaval. Jefferson has just four touchdown passes and ranks eighth in the SEC with 22 passing plays of at least 10 yards. Put simply, it will be up to Jefferson to keep Texas A&M’s defense honest so they can’t charge up against the run.
A sick Swiss Army knife: Texas A&M junior wide receiver Ainias Smith has been a force both as a wide receiver and a punt returner. It can also be used on sweep jets and in creative formations in the backfield. However, he got punched just before halftime in the New Mexico victory and did not return. Fisher said Monday that Smith should be available, but it’s unclear if he’s actually in good health. If Smith is ready to go, be careful. He’s the kind of player who can turn a game around quickly. Arkansas’ defense will no doubt focus on running backs Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane, meaning Smith could find himself in some advantageous situations.
Development of Calzada: It’s fair to give Calzada a mulligan for his performance against Colorado. After all, no one expected King’s injury, and hitting the road in this environment is no easy task. Calzada got into a groove last week, throwing two touchdowns on his first three passes and totaling 275 yards in a solid performance. Most importantly, Fisher got a good look at what his new starter can (and can’t) do after a full week of preparation. Consider last week a dress rehearsal for the main event.
How to watch Texas A&M vs. Arkansas live
Texas A&M vs Arkansas prediction, pick
Featured Game | Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Texas A&M Aggies
I’ll take the Aggies to a good old-fashioned slug party. They’ll be able to slow down Arkansas’ running game enough to force Jefferson into awkward passing situations, and a few major mistakes will dramatically change the outcome. Calzada will continue to develop as a passer, especially outside of the game, and lead this team to a fierce victory in Jerry World that covers the line. Prediction: Texas A&M (-5.5)
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