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College Football expert Alex Kirshner previews and provides betting picks for Arkansas vs. Texas A&M's matchup this Saturday.
ANALYSIS

Arkansas vs. Texas A&M Prediction, Over/Under Pick, and Latest Odds

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Texas A&M Aggies

Spread: Texas A&M -6

Total: 48

Game Time: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Click Here To See The Betting Odds For Arkansas vs. Texas A&M

Arkansas vs. Texas A&M Prediction

Almost every year since 2009, Texas A&M and Arkansas have played each other at AT&T Stadium, the building run by the Dallas Cowboys and their Arkansas-benefactor owner, Jerry Jones. Of course, there have been a few exceptions to the venue; it’s been on campus a few times, including during 2020’s pre-vaccine pandemic season. But one thing that’s been absolutely consistent of late has been the result: A&M has won nine times in a row, often in one-score games that left the Hogs and their fans heartbroken. Most times, the game wasn’t all that interesting to a national audience. Arkansas just wasn’t good enough to make it compelling.

That’s different in 2021. The No. 7 Aggies and No. 16 Hogs are both 3-0, and there’s a brighter spotlight on their matchup than on any recent occasion. This game should be a lot of fun, and there’s a chance that Arkansas, as just less than a touchdown underdog, can pull out a straight-up win. But I hope you don’t like points because there will not be a ton of them.

Both Arkansas and A&M rank in the top five nationally in expected points allowed per defensive play, a measure of how well a defense plays based on the down, distance, field position, and game state of each play. The Razorbacks have bullied the hell out of everyone they’ve played, including a pretty talented Texas team that has otherwise looked great. A&M’s defense hasn’t shown a weak spot yet, allowing a combined 17 points to Kent State, Colorado, and New Mexico. The talent on that unit suggests it should hold up well against stronger competition.

There is little reason to think either offense will get traction. A&M lost starting Quarterback Haynes King early in its Week 2 win against Colorado, and the offense couldn’t do a thing with backup Zach Calzada (who remains the starter for now) in his place. Calzada fared a good bit better against UNM last weekend, but the Lobos are so bad that it’s not worth drawing conclusions based on that afternoon. Colorado, a flawed but competent Power 5 team, is more like Arkansas than UNM. And while A&M scored 41 points against Kent State in Week 1, the defense did that game’s heavy lifting, including setting up the offense with good opportunities to score.

Arkansas’ offense has been something of a revelation through three weeks, but it’s worth taking that with a heavy grain of salt if trying to apply it to the A&M game. Hogs Quarterback KJ Jefferson’s best showing to date was his dominance of Georgia Southern in Week 3 when he threw for a wild 15.9 yards per throw and three touchdowns. But it’s worth noting he didn’t exceed 7.2 yards per throw against either Rice or Texas, and the A&M defense is just an entirely different animal than anything he’s encountered in his brief time as the Razorbacks’ QB1. Jefferson has also struggled a good deal when blitzed. Aggies defensive coordinator Mike Elko is not a blitz-happy play-caller in general, but I wonder if he might make an exception against a young SEC Quarterback. The A&M defense, which is loaded with four- and five-star recruits should also have a pretty noticeable talent advantage that Arkansas will need to somehow scheme its way around.

The Hogs’ defense has a lot going for itself, too. If Calzada can move the ball consistently through the air, he’ll not only be doing something he showed no flashes of over the last two weeks. He’ll also be the first Quarterback to do that against Arkansas all year. Texas Quarterback Hudson Card is more talented than Calzada, and Arkansas beat him badly enough that Card is no longer the Longhorns’ starting quarterback. Hogs defensive coordinator Barry Odom is one of the top assistants in the country, and he’ll have a good plan to make life challenging for Calzada. Along with that, Odom has a chance to make the under look like a tremendous bet. 

Arkansas vs. Texas A&M Pick:

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Article Author

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Alex Kirshner covers college football for the Moon Crew newsletter. He is a co-author of The Sinful Seven: Sci-Fi Western Legends of the NCAA, and he lives in Washington, D.C.

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