After back-to-back home upset losses, the Arkansas Razorbacks may actually have value this week at a discounted price getting a touchdown from Texas A&M in Arlington.
A preseason SEC darkhorse that is off to a terrible start could be in a classic “buy low” situation getting a touchdown Saturday night when the undefeated Texas A&M Aggies (3-0, 2-1 ATS) take on those slumping Arkansas Razorbacks (1-2, 1-2 ATS) in the conference opener for both teams on a neutral field at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX at 7:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Arkansas as a decided underdog for this contest with the current line at +7 with odds of +100.
Two Non-Conference Home Upset Losses
Arkansas was one of the hotter teams in the country over the second half of last season and the Razorbacks opened up 2015 with a 48-13 romp over UTEP, but then the totally unexpected happened as the Hogs lost their last two games both at home, first 16-12 to Toledo as 22½-point favorites and then 35-24 to Texas Tech as 9½-point chalk. The defense performed well enough in both losses vs. potent offenses, but the offense simply underperformed.
Texas A&M has yet to taste defeat as the winning college football pick in all three games thus far, although the Aggies did fail to cover the spread for the first time in a 44-27 win over Nevada last week as 32-point favorites. Now it is time to get serious though with this being the SEC opener, and despite the results for the Razorbacks the last two weeks, they still represent a jump in class from the Nevadas and Ball States of the world.
Sleeper in SEC West Before the Year
Arkansas was a popular sleeper pick to give the elite teams in the West Division of the SEC a run before the season because of a backfield that is one of the best in the country, and while most teams would be very happy to be averaging 171.0 rushing yards per game on 4.8 yards per carry, more was expected from the Razorbacks’ running backs. The good news is that Arkansas rushed for a season high 228 yards on 5.3 yards per carry last week, so hope is not lost.
The Razorback are also averaging 305.3 passing yards with sophomore Kyle Allen completing 61.4 percent of his passes and averaging a good 8.5 yards per attempt with nine touchdown passes vs. two interceptions. And furthermore the aforementioned defense is allowing 336.0 yards per game, ranking a commendable 45th in the country despite facing two normally high octane offenses in the two losses.
In other words, the pieces certainly appear to be in place for Arkansas to still live up to its preseason billing now that the SEC season has arrived, and this may be the best time to back the Razorbacks with their stock probably at its lowest.
Really Not That Much Separation
As for Texas A&M, it may be undefeated including a nice win over Arizona State to open this season, but if you look at the statistics for these teams side by side, you may have a tough time discerning which team is which!
Offensively, Texas A&M is averaging 487.7 total yards per game, 5.1 yards per rush and 7.8 yards per pass attempt, while Arkansas is averaging 476.3 total yards on 4.8 yards per runs and surprising 9.7 yards per pass. It is probably a safe bet that the Arkansas rushing average will start to rise and the passing average will start to drop in upcoming weeks, but that would have basically a zero effect on the total yards with these teams remaining very close.
Defensively, both teams seem improved over last year with Texas A&M allowing 337.0 yards per game, exactly one more yard per game than the 336.0 yards Arkansas is allowing as mentioned earlier. Thus, not much really separates these teams statistically and this point spread would in all likelihood be much lower here on neutral ground if not for the Arkansas events of the last two weeks.
Trending the Underdogs
Despite those back-to-back upset losses, Arkansas is still 11-4 ATS in its last 15 games overall including 10-3 ATS vs. teams with winning records, as well as a perfect 7-0 ATS in its last seven games after rushing for more than 200 yards in its previous game. Meanwhile Texas A&M is 1-6 ATS in its last seven SEC games.
So to recap, these teams are very close statistically but this line seems skewed for a neutral field due to the two Arkansas losses to inferior teams the last two weeks, so go for the line value here and take the points with the Razorbacks vs. Texas A&M in Arlington on Saturday.
College Football Pick: Arkansas +7 (+100)