KICKOFF: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET
GAME DATE: 9/28/13
SITE: Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, Ark.
SERIES: Arkansas and Texas A&M enjoyed a longtime rivalry as members of the old Southwest Conference. The Razorbacks lead the series 41-25-3, but the Aggies won last year's meeting 58-10, snapping the Hogs' three-game winning streak in the series.
RANKINGS: Texas A&M, No. 10
KEYS TO THE GAME
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin has been a steady hand during the Aggies' roller-coaster-like schedule so far this season.
The Aggies (3-1) began with a game against Rice in which Heisman-winning quarterback and controversial lightning rod Johnny Manziel was suspended for the first half. Then Texas A&M faced its biggest test of the season when top-ranked Alabama came to College Station with revenge on its mind. And most recently, Sumlin faced off with fellow spread offense gurus June Jones and Hal Mumme.
Sumlin knows the quick changes haven't been easy, but he's taking them in stride and the Aggies are following. Last week, Texas A&M effectively shut down the prolific SMU offense for a 42-13 victory.
"Our transition from Alabama to SMU and a completely different style of game and the way our defense played, I was very, very pleased with that," Sumlin said in his weekly press conference. "We're going to have to make another transition (against Arkansas). The diversity in the SEC offensively is a challenge for every team as you face it. Moving from different styles back and forth is a big challenge too."
Having won three of the four so far, Texas A&M goes on the road for the first time this season as the Aggies travel to Arkansas, which would much rather run than pass.
"When Bret (Bielema) was at Wisconsin, the way they wanted to play the game was line it up and run it at you and here comes a play action off of that," Sumlin said. "There's no reason to go away from that and creates an attitude in how he want to play the game and how they want to play the game offensively and defensively."
The Aggies' own offense is primed to cause problems for any team they face. They showed that by giving Alabama all it could handle before falling 49-42. Manziel, despite the half-game suspension, is well ahead of his Heisman-trophy-winning production of 2012 and receiver Mike Adams is emerging as one of the country's top receivers. Along with those two, Malcome Kennedy and Ben Malena have become solid secondary weapons.
It's the kind of offense that only needs its defense to provide a few complementary stops. Perhaps that's why Sumlin is speaking most enthusiastically about the defense these days.
"I am encouraged from what I saw last week from a communication standpoint," Sumlin said. "You're put in situations where you have to communicate. For coaches to adjust is one thing, for players to adjust is another thing."
Bielema announced on his Twitter account on Friday that quarterback Brandon Allen will be back in action against Texas A&M.
Allen won the starting job in the preseason but injured his throwing shoulder two weeks ago against Southern Mississippi. He missed last week's game against Rutgers.
Bielema tweeted: "Excited for a LIVE crowd in Razorback Stadium to start SEC play. We have a number of players back including QB @BrandonAllen_10"
Without Allen, the Razorbacks (3-1) lost to Rutgers 28-24 after Arkansas led 24-7 in the second half.
Junior college transfer AJ Derby replaced Allen in that game and was 14 of 26 for 137 yards.
Allen has completed 59.1 percent of his passes this season with five touchdowns and one interception.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--QB Johnny Manziel has disappointed those who are waiting for a sophomore slump. Manziel came through the Alabama loss without looking too shabby and he bounced back from it by riddling SMU for 244 passing yards and 102 rushing yards with three combined touchdowns.