Sun, 24 Oct 2021

No. 7 Texas AM meets No. 16 Arkansas in clash of unbeatens

Field Level Media
22 Sep 2021, 07:19 GMT+10

Seventh-ranked Texas AM opens SEC play against upstart No. 16 Arkansas at AT Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday.

The two teams square off for the 10th time since Texas AM (3-0, 0-0 SEC) became a member of the SEC in 2012. The Aggies are 9-0 in those contests, including a 42-31 victory over the Razorbacks (3-0, 0-0) last season.

However, Arkansas is 41-33-3 all-time in 77 games against the Aggies.

Texas AM head coach Jimbo Fisher expects a competitive Arkansas squad this week.

"They have a very experienced team," Fisher said. "They don't have a young team. This group has a lot of fourth-, fifth- and sixth-year guys on their team. And they're playing probably as well as anybody in the country."

Arkansas rolled up 633 total yards in a 45-10 victory over Georgia Southern last week, the eighth-best mark in program history. The Razorbacks are one of only five teams in the country to total 240 or more rushing yards in every game this season.

Quarterback K.J. Jefferson finished with 366 passing yards and three touchdowns in the win over Georgia Southern. Dominique Johnson rushed for a team-high 72 yards and a touchdown on five carries as Arkansas totaled 269 yards on the ground.

"We're just rolling right now," said Arkansas receiver Treylon Burks, who had a 91-yard TD reception in the win. "We're not worried about us being ranked. We're 3-0, and that's good. But we still want to play like we've always played, a blue-collar team with a chip on our shoulder, and just keep playing ball like we know how."

The Razorbacks will be hard-pressed to put up similar numbers on Saturday against a Texas AM defense holding opponents to 240 total yards a contest and 4.1 rushing yards per carry.

"They have a smothering defense," Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman said. "A very, very good defense in all front end, middle and back end. Their offense is loaded with skill players. ... They have a lot of talent, and we're excited to go down to Dallas to play this game. Hopefully, we can get healthy, and be able to go down there and put a good showing on."

Last week, Texas AM shut out visiting New Mexico 34-0. The Aggies are riding an 11-game winning streak -- their longest win streak since 1992 and the school's best start since opening 6-0 in 2016.

Quarterback Zach Calzada threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Calzada completed 19 of 33 passes with one interception in his first career start for the Aggies.

Running back Isaiah Spiller is Texas AM's top playmakers with 250 rushing yards, 80 receiving yards and two total touchdowns in three games.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound junior has 2,232 career rushing yards and 21 total touchdowns.

Sophomore Devon Achane has joined Spiller to provide a nice 1-2 punch for Texas AM in the backfield, with 203 rushing yards and three total touchdowns so far this season.

Fisher creating running lanes for playmakers like Spiller and Achane will be one of the keys to the game for Texas AM.

"You've got to create space," Fisher said. "(Creating) space is an easy thing to say, but a hard thing to do. So we're going to have to create space. You either do it through creativity or physicality. You can do it also with their ability to make people miss -- there are a lot of ways.

"You get Spiller, Achane and all of those guys in space, usually good things happen."

--Field Level Media

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