Arkansas is 4-0.
The No. 16 Razorbacks jumped out to an early 17-0 lead and simply kept A&M's offense from doing anything outside of a long Isaiah Spiller run in the second half to beat the No. 7 Aggies, 20-10, in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday.
Arkansas broke big play after big play in the first half as K.J. Jefferson hit Treylon Burks for an 85-yard TD pass in the first quarter and AJ Green broke multiple tackles on a 46-yard catch and run in the second half.
Spiller scored an 85-yard TD run in the third quarter but that's about all the A&M offense could muster. Zach Calzada, once again starting in place of the injured Haynes King, couldn't do anything downfield. Calzada was 20-of-35 passing for 151 yards and an interception.
Arkansas also had to play without Jefferson for part of the second half. He appeared to injure his left knee on the first possession of the third quarter and was visibly limping. He was replaced by freshman backup Malik Hornsby but came back onto the game in the fourth quarter to help Arkansas simply run it out to the finish.
A&M's best chance to tie Arkansas in the second half evaporated early in the fourth quarter when Calzada was intercepted by Montaric Brown with 12 minutes to go. Arkansas got the ball on the Aggies' side of the field and were able to burn off over five minutes of clock before kicking a field goal for the final 10-point margin.
Haynes King injury looms large for Aggies
Texas A&M was seen as the biggest challenger to Alabama in the SEC West entering the season. And it must be brutal for Aggie fans to wonder what the season could be like with a healthy King.
King suffered a lower-leg injury in the second game of the season against Colorado. Calzada did just enough to get A&M past the Buffaloes in that game and has shown in his limited playing time why he opened the season as the backup.
The inability to throw the ball downfield has been a huge issue for A&M with Calzada under center. Running backs Spiller and Devon Achane combined to catch 11 of the 20 passes Calzada completed. Arkansas knew that A&M couldn't throw downfield too. The Aggies had less than 40 yards rushing on 22 other carries outside of that Spiller run. It’s hard to win games against good opponents without the threat of a downfield pass.
King is expected to be out for “several weeks.” It’s likely that Calzada will be the QB when Alabama comes to College Station in two weeks. A&M has a defense that’s capable of pulling an upset over the Tide on a good day. But the offense isn’t capable of hanging with Alabama right now or even LSU or Ole Miss. A&M's dream of an SEC West title are looking very fragile.
What's the Razorbacks' ceiling?
This is a really good Arkansas team. The Razorbacks have now beaten the two biggest schools in Texas and can claim ownership of their western rival. But it’s also indisputable that the Razorbacks have the hardest schedule in college football.
A&M was the first of four straight games against ranked opponents for the Razorbacks. Arkansas travels to No. 2 Georgia on Oct. 2 before going to No. 13 Ole Miss on Oct. 9. The Ole Miss game is then followed by a home contest to No. 23 Auburn. Oh, road games against LSU and Alabama loom in November.
This is an Arkansas team that could easily finish the season at 8-4 and claim to be one of the 15 best teams in the country. Losing four games to that crew of opponents isn’t anything to get too heartbroken about. But if Jefferson and Burks are healthy, Arkansas is more than capable of pulling an upset or two against those juggernauts.