ARLINGTON, Texas — Even as a self proclaimed “homer” for the Razorbacks, I did not see this coming. Not at this level this fast. After Arkansas’ 20-10 decisive win over no. 6 Texas A&M, Arkansas has suddenly become the national feel good story in sports, and Sam Pittman has become a household name. The coordinators have risen to the challenge and the players, many who were on campus during the miserable Chad Morris era, are playing with the best the SEC has to offer.
Saturday, KJ Jefferson answered the questions of his doubters, as he gashed the top ranked pass defense for two long scores and kept the Aggie defense guessing with his ability to run. The Arkansas offensive line did not just open up running lanes, they opened up expressways that the Hogs used to run for 196 net rushing yards on 49 attempts. Treylon Burks hauled in an 85 yard touchdown in the first quarter en route to a 167 yard receiving day and netted the SEC co-Offensive Player of the Week. Tulsa’s AJ Green had a beautiful 48 yards touchdown reception where he broke loose from a defender and outran the secondary to break the game open.
The Razorback defense allowed only 10 points, with the lone touchdown on a third quarter breakaway run from Isaiah Spillers when the Hogs over-pursued and could not catch the speedster. Arkansas put the game away with a 24 yard field goal from Cam Little in the fourth quarter. It was his second of the game, after he nailed a 46 yard attempt to open the scoring in the first quarter. Little is the only FBS kicker who has not missed a FG on at least 8 attempts, and his 8 FGs are tied for the national lead for freshman kickers. Arkansas’ Tre Williams harassed Aggie QB Zach Calzada all day, sacking him twice for 13 yards and added another 3 hurries and gardener the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week award. Williams and the Arkansas defense held the Aggies to a season-low 272 total yards.
The win secured the Razorbacks slot on the national stage, but things are never easy in the SEC West. Though they played last year during the conference only season, the SEC is still sending Arkansas to play the East division favorite and no. 2 ranked Georgia Bulldogs. With Arkansas now moved up to no.6, this matchup will host College Gameday and is sure to be a rowdy atmosphere in Athens.
Keys to the Game:
- Can Williams and the Razorback defense get to a banged up JT Daniels?
- The Razorback secondaryhas been very solid through four games, but it will be strength on strength up front when Williams, John Ridgeway and crew face off against an offensive line that is regarded as the best in the nation.
- Pittman knows this offensive line, having been their coach just a season and a half ago, and will surely know the challenge that awaits.
- How healthy is KJ Jefferson? After getting banged up in the bench area last week, Jefferson
- was removed from play for much of the second half. Clearly dejected, Jefferson worked through the pain to come back in on the final drive and promptly moved the ball down the field, burning clock before finally taking a knee to run out the clock at the TAMU 11 yard line.
- It seems he was just bruised up from falling into gear on the sideline and should be 100% for Georgia.
- Can the Razorback offensive line continue to open up holes in the running game? In a comedic
- exchange, Head Hog Sam Pittman told Georgia Defensive Coordinator Dan Lanning that he did not need to dial up any new blitzes this week. They had enough to prepare for.
- Lanning’s return message was a drawing of a blitz with 11 arrows to the quarterback. Thereis a great respect between these two teams, and they both know it will be decided up front.
The betting line has been as high as Georgia -19.5. While this will be a very tough task for the Razorbacks, the line seems extremely high for teams that mirror each other well. With an over/under at 48 points, they clearly do not think Arkansas will score on Georgia. I think it comes down to a final possession, and Cam Little may find his way into Arkansas lore as a freshman.
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