Texas A&M vs Arkansas Preview: 3 key matchups in SEC West showdown

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Sep 19, 2015; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback Brandon Allen (10) hands off to running back Alex Collins (3) in the first quarter against theTexas Tech Red Raiders at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

SEC West rivals Texas A&M and Arkansas meet in Arlington, Texas Saturday in the conference opener for both teams. We explore three key matchups to watch. 

The Texas A&M and Arkansas football teams are complete opposites in nearly every way. One program was built with style, flash, Johnny Football, the SwagCopter, the Air Raid, and top-five recruiting classes. The other was rebuilt (or so we thought) by making massive offensive linemen the top recruiting priority, by running the football in a methodical, tried-and-true manner and by dominating time of possession.

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As we’ve seen the programs develop since Kevin Sumlin and Bret Bielema took over, one of the most striking differences between the two teams is the recent trend that says when the Aggies are up, the Hogs are down, and vice versa. 

The two teams played one of the most exciting games of the season last year in Dallas – a 35-28 Aggies victory that kept A&M ranked in the nation’s top ten, and kept Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema winless in SEC play after ten straight losses to conference opponents.

Not long after they met, however, Texas A&M and Arkansas began moving in very different directions. The Aggies lost three games in a row, then finished the regular season with two more losses, which raised many questions in College Station over the long off-season. The Razorbacks finally broke that dreaded conference losing streak, won six games and made it to a bowl game for the first time since 2011, and entered 2015 expecting to contend for the SEC West title.

But, those directions have changed once again.

Texas A&M is 3-0 and ranked No. 14 in the AP Top 25 while Arkansas is an unexpected 1-2 following losses to Toledo and Texas Tech in consecutive weeks. The Razorbacks have struggled with injury – including losses to running backs Jonathan Williams and Kody Walker and receivers Keon Hatcher and Jared Cornelius, among others. And while they have still been able to move the football, Arkansas seems to be in the middle of offensive identity crisis.

Of course, direction can change in a hurry in the SEC West, especially since both teams 0-0 in conference play. Looking forward to the Southwest Classic, we’ll focus on three key matchups to watch.

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