Arkansas vs. Texas A&M Odds, Picks, Predictions (9/24/22)

#10 Arkansas will attempt to hand #23 Texas A&M their second loss. Although they are undefeated, Arkansas narrowly escaped 38-27 against unranked Missouri State after facing a 24-17 4th quarter deficit.

Texas A&M bounced back from their embarrassing loss to Appalachian State by defeating then #15 Miami 17-9. However, the damage from their loss is permanent as Texas A&M absolutely cannot afford to lose anymore games.

Can the Aggies prolong their playoff chances by prevailing against Arkansas? Odds, picks, predictions, and key matchups are found below.

*All stats per PFF

Arkansas vs. Texas A&M Odds

A&M is slightly favored here, as the spread currently stands at -1.5 Aggies. The Arkansas moneyline is being offered at plus odds, which is surprising considering they looked fantastic prior to the Missouri State game. The over under sits at 48.5 total points, which is on the lower end for games this weekend.

Arkansas vs. Texas A&M Prediction & Pick

I believe the spread is an overreaction to the performances of both teams last week. Arkansas had a poor game, but it wasn’t reflective of their talent level. Texas A&M, meanwhile, was somewhat fortunate to win against Miami. The Hurricanes had 128 more total yards, 11 more first downs, 25 more plays, and averaged the same yards per play. Although A&M prevailed, it didn’t inspire much confidence.

As for the actual matchup, Arkansas’ offense is a nightmare for the Aggies. KJ Jefferson and Raheim Sanders are the best QB/RB rushing duo in college football who can breakaway on any play. The offensive line has been elite in pass blocking and run blocking, so Jefferson will have time and gaps.

A&M ranks 103rd of 131 teams in run defense in large part due to a non-elite defensive tackle unit. This deficiency is extremely concerning because Sanders thrives rushing into the A gaps (immediate left and right of the center). I expect the Razorbacks to control time of possession and orchestrate long, tiring drives by leaning on the run game.

A&M generates pressure, but Arkansas’ proficient offensive line can neutralize the pass rush. Jefferson has been kept clean on 70% of his dropbacks, and he’s carved up defenses during those dropbacks. Because the Aggies will be forced to load the box, WR Matt Landers, Jadon Haselwood, and TE Trey Knox can get isolation opportunities.

The biggest concern for Arkansas is their secondary. Outside of CB Dwight McGlothern, they have allowed too many receivers to create separation. However, Texas A&M’s passing offense cannot be classified as explosive. QB Max Johnson has 18 career big time throws compared to 24 turnover worthy plays, and his accuracy can fluctuate. Johnson’s solid but non-elite weapons cannot always bail him out either.

WR Ainias Smith is a legitimate threat, but no other receiver has flashed desirable talent. Therefore, Arkansas can attempt to double Smith and force Johnson to win this game by passing to sub-optimal pieces. Texas A&M will be able to move the ball against this secondary on drives, yet it won’t be at a consistent enough rate.

Arkansas likely wins this matchup because of their run game and superior passing game, but look for it to be close due to A&M’s secondary, running game, and Ainias Smith.

Arkansas vs. Texas A&M Key Matchups

Which offensive player can pace their team – Sanders or Smith? Check out the difficulty and importance of their matchups below.

RB Raheim Sanders vs Texas A&M Defensive Tackles

49 of his 66 rushing attempts have been in between the tackles, which has produced 6.7 yards per rush and eight 10+ yard rushes. More specifically, 32 of his 66 attempts have been in the A gaps. Texas A&M defensive tackles are absolutely crucial in this matchup because the roots of Arkansas’ offense revolve around running up the gut.

If the Razorbacks dominate this matchup, it will be exceedingly difficult for Texas A&M’s defense to produce stops and get off the field. The Aggies could load the box to ensure Sanders finds little success, but it makes the secondary vulnerable to KJ Jefferson’s arm. Winning this matchup without needing extra defenders is the key for Texas A&M.

WR Ainias Smith vs CB Jayden Johnson

84.5% of Smith’s snaps have come in the slot, and his yards after the catch potential poses a problem for Arkansas. Smith is the most reliable target for Johnson, so removing that safety blanket would severely hinder the A&M offense.

Unfortunately for Arkansas, slot corner Jayden Johnson has allowed 16 of 20 targets to be completed for 244 yards. He possesses size at 6’2”, but it may be a negative against speedy, smaller slot receivers. If Johnson holds his own, then Arkansas can devote extra resources to attacking the quarterback or run game.

Braxton has been writing for Lineups since December 2021 with the majority of his articles focused on the NBA. He is currently a senior at the University of Pennsylvania where he has spent the last few years working with various UPenn athletics teams and contributing to the UPenn Sports Analytics Group.

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