Texas A&M-Arkansas: Both Will Bend, but Who Will Break in the Southwest Classic?

Jim Cowan@jimicowanCorrespondent ISeptember 30, 2009

COLLEGE STATION, TX - SEPTEMBER 11:  A general view of the Texas A&M Aggies logo at midfield during the game against the Wyoming Cowboys on September 11, 2004 at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. The Aggies won 31-0. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)  *** Local Caption ***

In a renewed old school Southwest Conference rivalry, which hasn't been played since 1991, Texas A&M and Arkansas have both showed the ability to score.

After three games, the Aggies still lead D-I in offensive yards per game. Arkansas is no scrubinni at 19th best.

The question is not whether there could be 1,000 yards gained in this game, but rather which defense will allow those yards to end in points.

A&M's defense is hovering around the middle of the pack, giving up 352 yards per game but only allowing just over 18 points per game. Arkansas' D is not much worse, giving up 387 but allowing just over 32 points per game.

It should be noted though that Arkansas has played both Georgia and Alabama, so those statistics may be a bit misleading. The Ags should not go into this game and expect to run amuck in Dallas. Arkansas, even at 1-2, still has a legitimate chance to cause problems in the SEC West.

Also, another point to be made is that even though A&M's D is around average in most stats, they lead the BCS in sacks. Ryan Mallett is no joke, but if Von Miller can keep the pressure up, it could make for a long day.

As I've said before, teams will live and die by the offensive line. A&M's line has provided the offense with the ability to utilize a balanced attack. Look for Christine Michael to return in the backfield and Jerrod Johnson to continue spreading the ball around to multiple targets.

With Jeff Fuller gone for a majority of the season, instead of a one for one sub, the entire receiving corps has stood out!

Alabama has provided a blueprint on how to shut down Arkansas' offense. I'm not going to say that A&M is Alabama-caliber right now, but I will say they should have the ability to mirror some of 'Bama's defensive schemes to neutralize the Arkansas attack.

A&M is top 10 in penalties...they need to tighten it up a bit; 33 penalties for 295 yards is unacceptable by any stretch. As they end their non-conference with the Southwest Classic and begin Big 12 play with Okie State, they cannot afford to give away 100 yards a game in penalties.

The importance of this game to both teams should be noted. Arkansas desperately needs a win. Their schedule doesn't get any easier with Auburn, Florida, and Ole Miss coming up next. Heading into that gauntlet at 1-3 would be a dagger.

A&M needs this win for legitimacy. They've been dealt a sh*t sandwich over the past six years and have seemed to eat their way through it. A win against Arkansas would show the Big 12, and more importantly themselves, they are the real deal and can compete for a Big 12 title. Confidence is huge, but keeping it is paramount!

Gig 'Em Ags!