Justin Madubuike

Junior defensive lineman Justin Madubuike and the Aggie defense celebrate his interception.

ARLINGTON, Texas  No. 23 Texas A&M topped Arkansas 31-27 Saturday in a close meeting at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Here’s what we learned.

Aggies find a quick start

The Aggies made it a focus to start with more energy after struggling in the first quarter against No. 1 Clemson and No. 7 Auburn. A&M managed to get in a rhythm on their first drive, with two 12-yard plays, but a sack halted that and forced the Aggies to punt from the Arkansas 44-yard line. A&M’s second drive fared better as the Aggies marched 63 yards on seven plays to score first. In the first quarter A&M junior quarterback Kellen Mond was 6-of-7 for 55 passing yards.

“Offensively, [we] started out extremely well, moving the football up and down the field,” A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “Kellen was really sharp.”

A&M dominates former teammates

After posting five interceptions in a 31-24 loss to San Jose State last weekend, former A&M quarterback Nick Startkel continued to struggle. The Aggies held him to 12-of-17 and 109 yards before an injury took him out of the game. Starkel also threw one interception and no touchdowns. The Aggies also held junior running back Rakeem Boyd to 89 yards on 18 attempts.

“I never wish harm on any quarterback, especially Nick,” Mond said. “I thought Ben Hicks came in and did a really good job, competed and threw some really good balls.”

Defense bounces back

After struggling against No. 7 Auburn last weekend, the A&M defense forced two field goal attempts in the first quarter, only one of which was successful. Arkansas managed 395 yards of total offense, with only 98 of those coming on rushing attempts. Junior defensive lineman Justin Madubuike had a big interception on the goal line in the second quarter, though the ball was fumbled on the next play for an Arkansas touchdown. The pick was the first of Madubuike’s career.

“We were in the red zone,” Madubuike said. “I think I had an inside move. I just looked up to see where the ball was. It disappeared to my left peripheral. As I turned it was right there, and I just grabbed it.”

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