Arkansas vs. Texas A&M Odds, Picks, Predictions: Bet the Aggies to Roll Over Razorbacks (September 25)
Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Isaiah Spiller.
Arkansas vs. Texas A&M Odds
|Texas A&M Odds||-5.5|
|Moneyline||+180 / -220|
|Time||3:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.|
The best of the Southwest Conference rivalries continues in Week 4 as Texas A&M and Arkansas continue their series at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Arkansas, which has already notched victories over Texas and Rice, is looking to win its first game in this series since the Aggies became a member of the SEC in 2012.
The Hogs are one of the few teams to elude opposing wagers, with a 3-0 record straight up and against the spread and every contest going over the game total.
Jimbo Fisher returned his most explosive weapons at the skill positions in his tenure as the head coach of the Aggies. Isaiah Spiller is one of the best running backs in the nation, averaging 4.6 yards after contact while creating 17 missed tackles through three games.
The quarterback transition from an injured Haynes King to Zach Calzada has been encouraging. With a 12% drop rate, Calzada has had more turnover-worthy plays than big-time throws.
Considering Texas A&M has not allowed an explosive drive this season, the Razorbacks present a true test with KJ Jefferson and Treylon Burks.
Arkansas vs. Texas A&M Betting Preview
Digging for information on the Razorback injury status can be futile, but there are warning signs coming out of Fayetteville for the offense.
There are injury notables with the most productive players at the skill positions.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 18, 2021
Burks was in a walking boot leading up to the season opener against Rice. The rust came off for the future NFL Draft pick in the Georgia Southern game, but he was spotted with the boot back on earlier this week while tending to his NIL responsibilities.
Trelon Smith was the Razorbacks’ most explosive weapon in the backfield, but he is dealing with an injury to a shoulder and toe.
Arkansas is top-20 in explosive plays, but the lion’s share of those plays come from an offense that runs a rushing play on 68% of snaps.
Calzada leads a Texas A&M offense that is top-20 in big play percentage, but the biggest challenge for the Razorback defense is containing Jalen Wydermyer. The tight end leads the Aggies in third-down targets and is just one shy in the targets department lead for passes over 20 yards.
Wydermyer’s most productive game in 2020 came against Arkansas, as he averaged 15 yards a catch and posted two touchdowns.
Linebacker Bumper Pool and defensive back Jalen Catalon are top-25 tacklers nationally, but Texas A&M poses a much bigger challenge than just Wydermyer.
6️⃣ for 6️⃣ #GigEm
— Texas A&M Football (@AggieFootball) September 18, 2021
Pittman was very forward in his press conferences leading up to Texas and Georgia Southern. The second-year coach was adamant about taking away the best weapons from those offenses, primarily Bijan Robinson for the Longhorns and Justin Tomlin for Georgia Southern.
The Arkansas defense was highly successful, but now a half-dozen explosive players are on the field for the Aggies.
Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane have generated seven runs over 15 yards, while Ainias Smith and Chase Lane have generated 14 first downs from the slot and wideout positions.
Meanwhile, home run hitter Demond Demas has been targeted just six times with an average depth of target at 21 yards. This is the first explosive offense that will face an Arkansas defense ranked 42nd in coverage.
The injury to King thrust Calzada into starting duties after losing a lengthy training camp position battle at quarterback. Against Colorado, the freshman threw for fewer than 200 yards on 38 attempts with an adjusted completion mark of 59%.
Those numbers greatly improved to 71% with an NFL rating over 100 against New Mexico. The hidden advantage may be the 3-3-5 defensive scheme presented by the Lobos, which gave Calzada plenty of experience.
Defensive coordinator Barry Odom rotates out of a 3-3-5 set to a 3-2-6 on multiple occasions but sends one of the lowest pressure rates at just 9%.
Arkansas is one of the leaders in limiting opponent explosiveness, ranking third in defensive big play and eighth in Defensive Passing Success Rate.
— Collin Wilson (@_Collin1) September 18, 2021
The Achilles heel for the Aggies is Finishing Drives, as they own a rank outside the top 100. Texas A&M scores a point fewer than the national average on drives that cross the 40-yard line.
The percentage of play-action and screen plays has taken a step back through nonconference play, perhaps by design with the offensive line shuffling players through each position.
Texas A&M ranks best in the country in both scoring and passing defense. The opposing offenses of Kent State, Colorado and New Mexico are not exactly at the level of tempo and physicality of an SEC offense, but the Aggies are top-10 in numerous categories that determine against-the-spread winners.
Texas A&M is top-20 in the nation in defensive Havoc, Finishing Drives, coverage and stopping explosive plays.
Leon O’Neal stepped up and made his second interception of the game.
Credit his teammates for clearing the path to the end zone pic.twitter.com/Bvw2U1BaNj
— SEC Mike (@MichaelWBratton) September 5, 2021
Defensive coordinator Mike Elko is one of the best in the nation, presenting variations of the 4-2-5 scheme. The Aggies use heavy pressure against offensive schemes lined up in 11 formation, sending blitz on 35% of snaps with one tight end and one running back.
Considering Arkansas runs 11 in 87% of snaps, the pressure dropbacks for KJ Jefferson become the handicap on this side of the ball. The numbers do not show success for the Arkansas quarterback, as he completed just two passes on 13 pressured dropbacks this season.
In 31 dropbacks against a blitz, Jefferson has managed an NFL passer rating 40 points lower than in attempts with a clean pocket. Expect edge Micheal Clemons, Donell Harris Jr. and DeMarvin Leal to keep Jefferson in the pocket.
Arkansas vs. Texas A&M Matchup Analysis
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Texas A&M Offense vs. Arkansas Defense
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Arkansas vs. Texas A&M Betting Pick
The injury to King was considered a setback for the Aggies, but Calzada was always the quarterback with the bigger arm. The sophomore has a cannon to get behind a Razorback defense that prides itself on not allowing the explosive play, but it’s the play action and screen attempts that will set up deep shots later in the game.
Odom has been successful in coaching the Razorbacks to take away the opposing offense’s best weapon, but the Aggies present multiple explosive players.
Arkansas opponents have logged a 51% Success Rate in standard downs, above the national average of 47%. Texas A&M runs one of the slowest offensive paces in the nation while boasting one of the best methodical drive rates, a measurement of possessions with at least 10 plays.
The Aggies must improve in points per possession past the 40-yard line, as they average just 2.7 points in scoring position. Arkansas has allowed six scores on eight opponent red-zone attempts.
The highly-talented Arkansas offense is where investors should focus. Stromberg is one of the best offensive linemen in the country in clearing “A” gaps and calling protection for Jefferson in passing attempts.
There are other options at running back but none with Smith’s productivity, as there’s a dip in yards after contact and created missed tackles.
Dominique Johnson and Raheim Sanders have picked up the slack, but the health of Stromberg and tackle Dalton Wagner are paramount to the success of the Arkansas offense.
The Action Network projected total of 48.5 is spot on with the market, as these teams are outside the top 70 in pace, with Texas A&M’s troubling Finishing Drives rank dictating a minimal number of points scored.
The Aggies defense excels at limiting explosive plays, creating chaos and stopping drives that reach the red zone.
Our focus is on the spread, with a projection of Texas A&M to win by a touchdown with Arkansas at full strength. Losing key pieces of the offensive line with two explosive players limited to injury will put this game on the quarterback.
Jefferson is one of the best quarterbacks in the nation on the ground, but each attempt in a passing down with a crowded pocket puts the Razorbacks at risk of a turnover.
Look for the A&M offense to start slow with play-action and screens, but eventually, Calzada will take deep shots. Without a healthy offensive line, this could be the 10th consecutive loss for Arkansas in this series.