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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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5 things to know ahead of A&M-Arkansas

The+Arkansas+offense+and+Texas+A%26amp%3BM+defense+leap+just+after+the+snap.
Photo by Photo by Meredith Seaver

The Arkansas offense and Texas A&M defense leap just after the snap.

Concluding Week 3 of the college football season, 34 FBS teams remain undefeated. This Saturday, Sept. 25, No. 7 Texas A&M and No. 16 Arkansas will face off at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, both 3-0 on the season. Here are five things to pay attention to when the Aggies take on the Razorbacks to open up SEC play:
A&M’s run defense
Despite being one of the top units in the nation last season, the 2021 A&M defense struggled against the run in the first weeks of the season. The defense has allowed over 160 yards per game on the ground after allowing less than 95 last season. This does not bode well for a matchup with a potent Arkansas rushing attack. The Razorbacks are averaging the eighth-most rushing yards per game in the nation, at about 282. The Aggies will need to improve up front to keep Arkansas under control, especially after the Razorbacks routed Texas for a season-high 333 yards in Week 2.
Arkansas’s pass defense
Week 3 against New Mexico was a break-out game for A&M’s array of young pass catchers, with freshman receivers Moose Muhammad III and Demond Demas catching their first career passes and touchdowns. This facilitated sophomore quarterback Zach Calzada’s best performance to date, throwing for a career-high 275 yards and three touchdowns. Arkansas sports the second-best passing defense in the conference, allowing only 142 yards per contest. Calzada showed improvement in his second career start, and whatever momentum the A&M passing attack garnered in its matchup against the Lobos will need to be carried over to find success against a team that has allowed only one passing touchdown over the last three games.
The Southwest Classic
A&M and Arkansas have played one another 77 times since 1903, with Arkansas leading the series 41-33-3. Since A&M’s entry to the SEC in 2012, the rivalry has been dubbed the Southwest Classic and A&M has won all nine games. Four of these nine matchups have been within one score, and three have gone into overtime. With both teams undefeated and ranked in the AP top-20, the matchup will be one of the more anticipated games in the series.
Scoring woes
A&M scraped through its first three weeks with wins, despite only averaging 28.3 points per game, the third lowest in the SEC. The dominant A&M defense has been the opposite of the offense, holding opponents to a nation-low 5.7 points per game. Arkansas has scored an average of 41 points per game, the highest mark of any team A&M has faced this season, while also defensively holding opponents to only 16 per game. Arkansas arguably poses as the toughest offense and defense the Aggies have faced this season. A&M will be tested on both ends and may need to see even more offensive output than it has had so far this season in order to find victory.
New quarterbacks
One obvious parallel between the two teams is the loss of their previous season’s starting quarterbacks to the 2021 NFL Draft. As a result, both are starting redshirt sophomore quarterbacks this season. Additionally, both teams are run-heavy offenses, with KJ Jefferson, Arkansas’ quarterback, only attempting 21 passes per game. Neither team relies too heavily on the passing attack, but with two inexperienced starting quarterbacks at the helm facing stout defenses, whoever makes the most big plays may make the most difference in the contest.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article said Texas A&M joined the SEC in 2009. This has been updated with the correct information to reflect Texas A&M having joined the SEC in 2012. The Battalion regrets this error. 

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