Week 5 Preview

Texas A&M vs. Arkansas (Arlington), Saturday, 2:30 PM – CBS

Our AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl game of the week features the Texas A&M Aggies taking on Arkansas at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. This year marks the return of the series to Jerry World after a brief two year stint as a home and home. The former Southwest Conference rivalry dates all the way back to 1903, with Arkansas holding a 41-26-3 advantage. The Razorbacks have dominated A&M at Cowboys Stadium, winning all three of the previous neutral site matchups while the Aggies were still in the Big 12.

However much has changed since then, (the Aggies switched conferences, coaches and quarterbacks) and this year matches up two of the most powerful (yet stylistically opposite) offenses in the country. Texas A&M has seemingly not missed a beat offensively despite the departure of Heisman Winner Johnny Manziel, as Kenny Hill has stepped into Sumlin’s offense somewhat seamlessly and has led the Aggies to a few ridiculous statistical perches so far:

  • Scoring Offense – 55 points per game: 2nd (in FBS)
  • Passing Offense – 405 yards per game: 3rd
  • Total Offense – 612 yards per game: 2nd
  • Fewest Punts – 2 per game: 2nd
  • First Downs – 30 per game: 2nd

Those stats are similar to what the Aggies were able to put up last year, however it was their somewhat porous defense that kept them from being a national threat in 2013. That side seems improved so far, although against somewhat weaker competition. Texas A&M’s 4.60 yards per play allowed (27th in FBS), a key stat considering how little time the Aggies spend on offense, is much improved compared to last year’s 6.36 (109th). Defensive coordinator Mark Snyder has been able to rotate his front seven much more effectively with an influx of young talent, including 5 star stud freshman defensive end Myles Garrett, currently 3rd in FBS in sacks with 5.5.

That improved defense will face a stiff test from the Razorbacks on Saturday. In his second year in Fayetteville, head coach Bret Bielema has quickly started to build the same type of rushing offense that was a staple of his success at Wisconsin. The Hogs average 324.5 yards per game on the ground, good for 8th in FBS. Arkansas followed a ridiculous 495 yard, 6 touchdown rushing performance against Nicholls St. with 438 yards and 7 touchdowns against Texas Tech in a 49-28 road win on September 13.

Can the Razorbacks get on track early and keep the powerful A&M offense off the field? Much of that will depend on their two headed rushing attack of Alex Collins (the current SEC leader in rushing with 490 yards) and Jonathan Williams, as well as the holes that are made by the Hogs massive offensive line. That line averages 328 pounds per player, making it larger than any line in the NFL based on Week 1 lineups (courtesy of Arkansas Sports Information). That includes offensive tackle Dan Skipper, who stands 6 foot 10 (!) and is also a kick blocking specialist, having blocked three in 2013.

Tune into CBS on Saturday at 2:30 to see this key early season SEC matchup and be sure follow us on Twitter  to see our photos and reports from the game.

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