Week 5 College Football Picks: No. 18 Arkansas vs. No. 14 Texas A&M
These teams have played each other the previous two seasons, but this year both teams have a ton on the line. The Aggies are looking to bounce back from a tough home loss to Oklahoma State so they can get back up near the top 10 to challenge for a Big 12 Title and a BCS berth.
Arkansas falls into the same possibility though their BCS chances may be slim with LSU and Alabama near the top of both polls. However, all is not lost as these Razorbacks can still remain a scary team with all of their talent. Still on the line could be a possible New Year's Day bowl and a victory would certainly go a long way in their momentum against a foe that will be familiar come next season.
This series started way back in 1903 when these programs were together in the SWC as rivals. The Aggies have lost the last two years in a row by a score of 71-36!
Ryan Tannehill was actually a wide receiver last season before he took over for Jerrod Johnson. Tannehill had a catch in last season's game but will have a much larger role in a game that could be replayed in the same stadium come January (Cotton Bowl).
This game is being played at Jerry's Land, where these two teams played one season ago. Let us not forget that the Aggies lost their bowl game against LSU last season in Arlington. Will the losing ways continue for the Aggies?
Having been in Dallas Cowboys Stadium, I must say it is arguably the top professional sporting venue in America.
I have not had the chance to go to all the college venues, and that is why I hold back any statement of saying Jerry's Land is better. Regardless, the 60-yard Jumbotron is a spectacle to see live in person.
This should be a divisional game come next year since the Aggies will be playing in the SEC (West) next season.
Aggies Secondary against Razorbacks WR's
The Aggies rank 109th in the nation against the pass, and if you caught their game last weekend, you saw Brandon Weeden thread the needle for 438 yards.
Tyler Wilson has thrown for 1,007 yards and seven TDs with only three INTs. His receivers are among the best in the country and going up against the Aggies secondary will clearly be the matchup to look for.
Greg Childs, Cobi Hamilton, Joe Adams and Jarius Wright all have sensational speed for the high-octane offense of Bobby Petrino. The Aggies have several defensive backs, but all struggled miserably against the Cowboys trio of wideouts that torched them for over 300 yards alone.
Coryell Judie, Terrence Frederick, Dustin Harris, Trent Hunter and Steven Campbell must be able to limit the big plays from the Razorbacks stars, or else, this could be a three-year, in a row, charm for Arkansas.
Ronnie Wingo: Arkansas/RB
Note to all Razorback players and fans: Run the rock a little bit!
It is one thing to abandon the running game against the best defense in the nation, but they need to really find a running game early and often to keep the explosive offense of Texas A&M on the sidelines.
Now I am not trying to say to aboid threading the needle 40 times this weekend, but Arkansas must be able to gash the Aggies run defense for 100 times on 25 attempts or more.
A&M is seventh against the run so it will be tough for the Razorbacks to run, but I would never abandon the run all together early on in the game. They need to emphasize on being physical right out of the gates,
As the old saying goes, the more dimensions this Arkansas offense has, the tougher it will be to defend. It is easier said than done, and hopefully, Wilson will not have to be on the run all game long.
Why Texas A&M Can Win
This Aggies team has an offense of their own ranking 17th in the nation averaging 482 yards a game, and it has been Ryan Tannehill's big game struggles that has held this team back from greatness.
One could argue Cyrus Gray is not getting nearly enough carries on this team. He has 63 carries on the year, but only got 13 against Oklahoma State in the loss. I don't know what it is when a team trails, but unless you're down 30 points like Arkansas or Oklahoma State was, you should never abandon the run.
The Aggies were running the entire first half and for most of the third quarter, and yet, they did not feed their All-American caliber running back the pigskin. Christine Michael had six carries for 62 yards in their recent loss, and he is another stallion that can take it the distance on any given carry.
Plus, this Aggies defense is not garbage by any means. They are 44th in total defensive yards, allowing 339 yards a game, and they are seventh against the run allowing only 60 yards a game.
They came close last season with big defensive stands and a few turnovers, and if they come away with a turnover or two on Saturday, I would have to lean towards the Aggies since the "experts" have them listed as three-point favorites.
Texas A&M maybe be one of the least talented teams in the upcoming SEC season in 2012, but there needs to be some respect shown for a legit program that has had their fair share of success at the beginning of the BCS era. This Aggies team is not dead in the water from reaching a BCS Bowl this season, and I still think they are an extremely talented bunch offensively.
Why Arkansas Can Win
Despite what the so called "experts" say, I learned a long time ago to never go against a SEC team on a neutral field. The Aggies were smoked in the fourth quarter against LSU last year in the same building and what makes you think this outcome could be any different?
No doubt, this game will be or should be down to the wire. However, why are the Aggies considered the favorites? I would say because of the injuries including Tenarius Wright (expected to miss four to six weeks) and Jake Bequette (hamstring).
The secondary has been tested, allowing 213 yards a game which is good for 61st in the nation. Alabama surprisingly was able to throw the ball with success though a chunk of their yards came on a gimmick punt formation pass from their quarterback AJ McCarron to Michael Williams.
However, they have just as good if not a better amount of athletes in their secondary in comparison to A&M. Darius Winston and Tramain Thomas can be huge factors if their front four can create any pressure.
Bequette is still questionable, and he could be the guy to put this team on top, but Byran Jones, DeQuinta Jones and Robert Thomas must harass Tannehill into his usual turnovers.
Arkansas desperately needs a win to stop the bleeding of what was a woodshed beating put on by the likes of Alabama. A&M should not be able to run roughshod on this Razorbacks defense which will enable their pass-rushers (hopefully Bequette becomes a factor) to pin their ears back and force some turnovers.
If not, we could be looking at a possible shootout where 30 points is not enough to win. Tyler Wilson and Ryan Tanehill are both capable quarterbacks that can earn some All-SEC/Big 12 honors, but they both struggled miserably last weekend. This is your ultimate bounce-back game where the winner can crack the top 10 still. The loser would certainly reach the doldrums of the top 25 with an outside shot at a New Year's Day bowl.
Is Arkansas a legit top 15 team? Can they find enough running room over the Aggies big front? Can the Aggies cover the Razorbacks high-flying deep threats?
I feel that Joe Adams can be a real difference maker in this game bringing back kicks/punts as well as hauling in passes downfield and breaking a few long runs out of the backfield. They have tried him before as a running back, and they had a ton of success with it. Why not try it again?
Less field goals and more touchdowns is obvious but especially in this game. Jeff Fuller and Greg Childs are two studs that cause nightmares for both defensive coordinaors, but the under the radar talents in Cobi Hamilton and Ryan Swope are off the charts.
Tyler Wilson is still as good of a quarterback as anybody in the SEC, and I believe he will make just one more play than Ryan Tannehill will in the end.
Experts Pick: Aggies by three
Drama's Pick: ARKANSAS 35, TEXAS A&M 31