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You want the SEC, Texas A&M? You got it.
Just days after announcing they were definitely leaving the Big 12 and heading east to the biggest, baddest conference in the land, the Aggies will get a chance to test their mettle against a future conference rival.
The Razorbacks had circled the Alabama game on their schedule last year and were licking their chops. Now they're licking their wounds, following the 38-14 beatdown they suffered last week. The Aggies suffered a similar kick to the morale groin last week against Oklahoma State, choking away a big lead against the Cowboys.
Both teams will take to that others Cowboys team's homefield looking for a measure of redemption and a chance to send a warning shot for seasons to come.
The Aggies will see something from the Razorbacks that they've come to expect in their current Big 12 conference -- a wicked passing game and solid wide receivers. Considering what happened to their defense in the second half last week, that might not be a welcome sight. Ryan Mallett's departure could have set the Hogs back at the quarterback position, but Tyler Wilson is no spring chicken, having spent three years on the campus in Fayetteville. Wison has at his disposal one of the best receiving corps in the country, with Joe Adams, Jarius Wright, Cobi Hamilton and Greg Childs to throw to. But Arkansas' offensive line proved porous against the Tide last week, so they are going to need to give Wilson more time in the pocket this week to be successful. Ronnie Wingo did not have much more luck than the passing attack, as the Hogs picked up less than 20 yards on the ground.
The Aggies may not be as solid as Alabama up front, but they have been stout against the run this season, giving up only a couple of yards a carry. If they can shut down Wingo, Wilson will be forced to carry the entire load offensively. But coach Bobby Petrino and Wilson feel comfortable going up top and they must be salivating watching the tape of the Agies secondary getting schooled in the second half last week against the Cowboys.
The Aggies offense did not lose the game for them last week, but they didn't do much to help the cause in the second half, either. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has cost the Aggies the last two weeks, throwing four interceptions, so he needs to hope the Aggies can keep the Razorbacks under wraps in the first half. If they can, it will allow the Aggies to run a more conservative offense and keep the ball on the ground, where it is relatively safe.
Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael are a killer combination at running back, and the Aggies need to trust them with the ball Saturday. The Aggies are going to also have to utilize their backs in the short passing game, as well as the tight ends, or else the Razorbacks speedy corners will blanket the Aggies receivers and shut down the deep ball. But completing passes over the middle against Arkansas linebackers Jerry Franklin and Alonzo Highsmith Jr. is easier said than done. Those two are the heart of the Hogs defense and they will need to be extremely active, as the Razorbacks will likely be missing both of their starting defensive ends. With a defensive line so banged up, the Aggies would be wise to pound the ball and play to the Hogs weakness.
This game should serve as an excellent measuring stick for the Aggies as they look to the future. And the Hogs will undoubtedly want to send a message to the new kids on the block, especially in Hogs benefactor Jerry Jones' stadium. Thankfully the roof is open. They'll need the room for the fireworks.
Last updated on September 30, 2011.