Texas A&M vs. Arkansas: Biggest Storylines to Watch in Week 5 SEC Clash

Mike Hoag@MikeHoagJrCorrespondent IISeptember 27, 2013

COLLEGE STATION, TX - SEPTEMBER 29:  Johnny Manziel #2 of the Texas A&M Aggies celebrates  a touchdown against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Kyle Field on September 29, 2012 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Texas A&M Aggies have to be considered heavy favorites to knock off the 3-1 Arkansas Razorbacks in Week 5.

Even without a stout defense, the Aggies are one of the most explosive spread offenses in the country thanks to star quarterback Johnny Manziel. They currently sit fifth in the nation with 602.3 yards per game.

But offense isn't always enough, as Manziel and Co. learned during a 49-42 defeat to No. 1 Alabama two weeks ago.

Can they hold off a solid Razorbacks rushing attack to score a statement win as they continue into SEC competition? Or can Bret Bielema's new team rebound from a disappointing second-half meltdown against Rutgers to improve to 4-1?

Here's a look at the top storylines heading into this SEC showdown.


Will Brandon Allen or AJ Derby Start for Razorbacks?

LITTLE ROCK, AR - SEPTEMBER 7:  Brandon Allen #10 of the Arkansas Razorbacks throws a pass to teammate Mitchell Loewen #89 during a game against the Samford Bulldogs at War Memorial Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Little Rock, Arkansas.  (Photo by Wesley
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Matching up against the Aggies would be hard even with starting quarterback Brandon Allen on the field. Scoring points will be the key if Arkansas hopes to contend with the high-octane Aggies offense.

Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema said backup AJ Derby is practicing with the first team this week as Allen watches, per Matt Jones of WholeHogSports.com:

Allen missed the Razorbacks' Week 4 loss against Rutgers after injuring his shoulder against Southern Mississippi on Sept. 14. Bielema said earlier in the week that Allen was questionable to play and would be a game-time decision, per Robbie Neiswanger of ArkansasNews.com.


Texas A&M’s Youth

Riddled with suspensions and injuries, the young Aggies defense has been poor to this point in the 2013 campaign, currently ranking No. 110 in total defense out of 123 qualifying schools.  Giving up 475 yards per game is not a recipe for success, despite the team's offensive prowess.

Penalties have also been a black eye, as the team has accumulated 28 total and averaged seven per contest. In a blowout win over SMU, Texas A&M accrued 11 total penalties.


The Johnny Manziel Show

All eyes are on mobile quarterback Johnny Manziel. Whether it's off-field drama or on-the-field antics, Manziel has become bigger than the college football game. His play on the field, though, is not to be questioned.

Last year, Manziel compiled 559 yards of total offense and four touchdowns while leading the Aggies over the Razorbacks in a 58-10 laugher. He's on his way to finishing as a Heisman Trophy finalist again this season. Will he light up the box score against against the Razorbacks?