The No. 23 Texas A&M football team will have a test of endurance against Arkansas after falling 28-20 to No. 7 Auburn last Saturday.
Arkansas, now 2-2 on the season and 0-1 in SEC matchups, was defeated last week by San Jose State.
Saturday’s matchup brings about a true testament of rivalry, as two A&M transfers — quarterback Nick Starkel and running back Rakeem Boyd — will lead the Razorbacks into the AT&T Stadium. They’ll be joined by Arkansas head coach and A&M graduate Chad Morris and former A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis.
Though the Aggies have seven straight wins in the Southwest Classic, A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said the team has a lot of cleaning up to do after last week’s performance.
“I thought our kids played hard,” Fisher said. “We need to play better, and we are definitely not happy with the outcome we’re getting. We’ve got to be more consistent in how we execute and do the things we do, but the thing about the mistakes is that they are very correctable.”
Despite the defeat, Jhamon Ausbon and Quartney Davis had notable highlights in the game, with Ausbon’s 41-yard catch on the final play of the first quarter and Davis’ 27-yard reception that brought the Aggies up 21-10 in the fourth quarter.
Offensively, both teams seem to be evenly matched, with new leadership behind them as well as new key starting players. With Starkel coming off a loss to San Jose State in which he threw five interceptions, and with A&M’s offense unable to find momentum early in its matchups, both sides will have the opportunity to gain the upper hand.
“We’ve got to find a way to get that running game going, and we can be more consistent in the passing game” A&M junior quarterback Kellen Mond said. “We, as a collective unit, have to figure out what’s going to be best for us.”
Defensively, A&M started strong but gave up some early scores and allowed opposite drive play action against Auburn last week.
Placing A&M and Arkansas’ defenses side-by-side, Arkansas has allowed 410 yards (252 of passing and 158 of rushing) and A&M has allowed 276 yards (165 of passing and 111 of rushing).
“All three phases of the ball — offense, defense, and special teams — weren’t consistent enough, and the results show it,” junior defensive back Keldrick Carper said. “But we’re past that now. We think day by day, and last week was Auburn, but now it’s Arkansas.”
With both teams looking at this matchup as an opportunity for redemption and a confidence boost, both Arkansas and Texas A&M will fight to the finish.
The Aggies will face off against the Razorbacks on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN.