This season I’ll be breaking down a few of college football’s biggest games each week and giving out at least one bet I like from each matchup.
Let’s into dive into a battle of ranked SEC teams between No. 10 Arkansas and No. 19 Texas A&M.
Arkansas vs Texas A&M Spread, current line:
Arkansas vs Texas A&M Best Bet Prediction:
In a close game, it’s usually best to trust the more explosive offense with the proven quarterback 一 so in this matchup, take Arkansas and the points.
When Arkansas is on Offense
Arkansas runs a conservative offense, leaning heavily on its rushing attack and short passing game.
Raheim Sanders is one of the most explosive ball carriers in the country, and has picked up 10 or more yards on 18% of his attempts, the second highest rate in the SEC.
Through three games, Texas A&M has allowed 11 carries of 10 or more yards 一 an explosive rush rate allowed of 9.6 percent, ranked 41st.
No quarterback in the SEC was blitzed more than K.J. Jefferson last year (33% blitz rate) and that trend has continued (29% rate through three games), per Sports Info Solutions.
However, the Aggies brought extra pressure on just two of Jefferson’s 17 dropbacks (11%) in last year’s matchup.
On those two blitzes, Jefferson was 0-2, but was 7-13 with 16.3 yards per attempt versus standard pressure.
Texas A&M replaced defensive coordinator Mike Elko (took the head coaching job at Duke) with D.J. Durkin, but the aversion to blitzes continues. A&M ranked 85th in the nation and 11th in the SEC in blitz rate (21%).
When Texas A&M is on Offense
Jimbo Fisher runs a fairly traditional pro-style offense and he’d like to lean on the passing game, but may not have the quarterback to do so this year.
In 2021, the Aggies had a 50% pass rate in a neutral game script, but that rate has dropped to 44% this season, per Campus2Canton.
Fisher made the switch at quarterback from Haynes King to Max Johnson (an LSU transfer) last week, which cut down the mistakes but not much else.
Johnson is more of a game-manager, and lacks mobility and the arm to challenge defenses downfield. King was more of a liability in terms of decision-making, but brought a dynamic skillset.
Over the last two years, Johnson has thrown 15 or more yards downfield on 19% of his attempts, while completing just 32% of those throws, according to Sports Info Solutions.
Due to the pro-style nature of Fisher’s offense, when the passing game isn’t rolling, it hurts the run game as well, as it allows defenses to stack the box.
Aggie ball carriers have run into a stacked box on 62% of their carries this year, ranked 106th in the nation.
Devon Achane is an explosive playmaker at running back, but A&M’s scheme appears to be limiting him. Achane has been stuffed for zero or negative yards on 30% of his carries this year 一 the second highest rate among Power 5 running backs, per Sports Info Solutions.
Arkansas’s defense excels at limiting big plays on the ground, allowing 10 or more yards on just 6.5% of attempts, the 14th lowest rate in the nation.
Final Thoughts on Arkansas vs Texas A&M Best Bets
Given Texas A&M’s issues on offense, it’s surprising to see the Aggies favored. In two games against FBS opponents, Texas A&M has just three offensive touchdowns 一 and one of them was only a 28-yard drive, after a turnover.
In addition to the matchup numbers indicating Arkansas is the side to take, there are also a couple betting trends in our favor:
- Texas A&M lost three of four SEC games outright when favored by a touchdown or less last season
- Arkansas is 6-2 against the spread as a road underdog under head coach Sam Pittman.
That’s a lot of data pointing to Arkansas, so I’m taking the Razorbacks and the points in this matchup.
Other College Football Betting Predictions for Week 4: