Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Texas A&M Aggies
Date and Time: Saturday, September 23, 2017, 12 p.m. ET
Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
Opening College Football Odds: Texas A&M -3
Arkansas vs. Texas A&M TV Coverage: ESPN
Kevin Sumlin needs a win in the worst way in a big game like this one. He's got a couple cupcake wins to his credit over Nicholls State and Louisiana Lafayette, but the big game that still cannot be forgotten is the one against UCLA, a 45-44 loss in which the team was up by five touchdowns in the third quarter. The opportunity is there to be 4-1 and ranked in the Top 25 by the time Alabama comes to town on October 7, and Sumlin had better hope that his team can get to that point if he wants a chance to keep his job beyond this year.
At least Sumlin looks like he has decided on a quarterback. Kellen Mond was probably always the most talented passer on the roster, but Sumlin was trying to buy as much as time as he could with both Jake Hubenak and Nick Starkel.
Yet when these two men largely failed to navigate this offense, Mond took over. He threw for 301 yards and three touchdowns against ULL last week in what amounted to be a big comeback victory, and he became the second freshman in Texas A&M history to throw for 300 yards in a game. You may have heard of the other man to do it. He went by the moniker of "Johnny Football."
But let's not forget that Bret Bielema needs this game just as much as Sumlin does. This is always one of the earliest SEC games of the year for both of these teams, and Bielema has taken plenty of heat for never ultimately winning this game in his tenure since coming over from Wisconsin.
Arkansas has had a week to stew over its 28-7 loss to TCU in Fayetteville. The Hogs were dominated on the line of scrimmage in that game, a truly alarming problem for a team that always prides itself on having the better games in the trenches than the opposition. TCU ran for 195 yards, and it flat out wore down the Razorbacks as that game went on to put the last 14 points on the board in the fourth quarter.
It's hard to judge the mental side of college football in a lot of cases. Not in this one.
The Aggies are flat out mentally soft at this point. They have far too many lapses over the course of games, and small problems turn into huge runs in a hurry. Case in point: Last week against ULL, A&M was facing a 14-14 game halfway through the second quarter. The Aggies turn the ball over and let the Ragin' Cajuns march 13 plays over just 2:55 to score the touchdown that gave the visitors a shocking 21-14 lead at the intermission.
We won't even mention the collapse against UCLA.
Arkansas vs. Texas A&M Free Picks
If Arkansas can be the mentally strong team in this game, it can get over the hump and ultimately end its losing ways against a team that it hates to lose to.
But there's just something about the way that TCU game ended that has us worried for the Razorbacks. Austin Allen flat out can't throw the football all that well, and the one place Texas A&M has a slew of strength is along its defensive line. There's a reason why Myles Garrett became the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft last year, and it wasn't just because of his freakish talent. It takes a village to make a defensive line sometimes, and the Aggies are still as deep as could be in their front seven.
We suspect that this is going to be a lower scoring game and one that plays right into the hands of Mond. He'll be able to make some mistakes and get away with it, and that's why all of the best online sportsbooks lined A&M as the short favorite.
College Football ATS Pick: Texas A&M -3 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Texas A&M 30, Arkansas 20