Are the Hogs That Good Or is Texas A&M That Bad?

Roger GowensCorrespondent IOctober 4, 2009

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 03:  Running back Michael Smith #21 of the Arkansas Razorbacks runs against the Texas A&M Aggies at Cowboys Stadium on October 3, 2009 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

In Saturday night's renewal of the Arkansas-Texas A&M old Southwest Conference rivalry, the Hogs exceeded 40 points for only the third time against the Aggies.

It wasn't the most lopsided Hog win in the series, that would be a 45-6 victory in 1970, but the 47 points registered on the giant Cowboys Stadium scoreboard was the highest point total the Arkansas program has ever compiled versus Texas A&M on the football field.

So what happened to that vaunted, larger-than-life Aggie nation-leading offense we heard about all week?

In the week that the state of Arkansas featured a lottery for the first time in state history, Razorback defenders beat a path to the Aggie quarterback like lotto patrons lining up to buy tickets at 12:01 last Monday.

The Aggie left tackle served as a turnstile for Razorback defenders cashing in winning lotto tickets as Hog DE Jake Bequette in particular seemed to be beating the true freshman Barrera on nearly every play for most of the first half.

The Arkansas media has a habit of building up opponents large and small and last week was no different as most tub-thumped for the Aggie offense, ignoring the Texas A&M schedule which featured more creampuffs than the Wal-Mart deli.

It had to be a shock to the Ags system to get gut-punched time after time after the Hogs', Ryan Mallett in particular, seemed to be suffering from a huge Alabama hangover in the initial part of the game.

While A&M does have a good offensive scheme and QB Jerrod Johnson could start for a lot of teams, if Mike Sherman and staff don't tweak some things in Big 12 play, the talented scrambler Johnson won't make it through the 2009 season in one piece.

The Aggies No. 1 took shot after shot including a vicious blindside hit by the Hogs Tenarious Wright with only seconds remaining on the clock. While there is some talent around Jerrod Johnson, running backs Gray, Michael and the receiver Johnson looked impressive, there aren't many other weapons.

The Aggies offensive line was whipped consistently like no major college Arkansas opponent in recent memory and the Hogs much maligned DBs played pinball with Aggie receivers much of the last three quarters.

The Hogs looked like a bigger, stronger, much more physically mature team than the Aggies, who played 16 freshmen. The Aggies have shown that they can overpower weak opposition such as Utah State and the like.

While I think they have a lot of young talent, emphasis on young, any team playing that many kids straight out of high school is going to take their lumps when going against any SEC team or the upper echelon of the Big 12. 

I can't see the Aggies, young as they are, beating any of their Big 12 South brethren other than maybe the Baylor Bears who may go into early hibernation without injured QB Robert Griffin.

Texas A&M, with another good recruiting class can be much improved in 2010. In early October 2009, the Aggies were not a physical match for the Hogs, who are still a young team in their own right.

The answer to the question is, in short, I don't think Texas A&M is a bad team. Bad teams don't beat anyone by the kind of scores the Ags have been winning by, even creampuffs. If they get a break in their opponents from the Big 12 North and beat Baylor the team could be in bowl contention.

As far as the first part of the headline query, there should be no doubt in any reasonable mind that this Arkansas team is much improved from last year.

The 2008 edition of the Hogs couldn't have beaten any college football team 47-19, much less a BCS conference school.

Therefore, the Hogs are light years ahead of last year. Even with all the big plays the defense has yielded, some of us could see progress 90% of the time. The 2008 Hogs couldn't stop the run most of the time. However, to win enough games to get into a bowl, the big plays must be cut way down.

In the cutthroat SEC, being a good team may only mean a middle-of-the-pack finish with seven wins or so. Last night's game should prove that the Hogs are a good team who ran into a buzzsaw in the form of what may be the best team in college football in Alabama.

Hogs fans shouldn't order tickets for a BCS bowl, but a win over Auburn next week, no small feat, would put the team in position for a bowl somewhere.