Photo: Walt Beazley, UA Athletics
The circus is coming to town Saturday in the form of the No. 10 Texas A&M Aggies. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
With Heisman winner Johnny Manziel as ring master, carnival barker and main attraction, the Aggies many not be the best team in the nation, but they may just be the greatest offensive show on turf.
The Aggies are averaging 391 yards passing, 211 on the ground and 50.3 points per game, and while Kevin Sumlin’s teams have been rolling up big offensive numbers for years, Manziel is the force of nature driving the Aggies.
Fayetteville is one of four certain stops— Oxford, Miss.; Baton Rouge, La.; and Columbia, Mo.; being the others — on what most believe will be Manziel’s farewell tour of college football. An additional date — possibly two should the Aggies sneak in the backdoor of the SEC title game — will be added later.
Simply put, Manziel is a once in a generation-type of player who must be seen live to be fully appreciated, and Hog fans have that chance.
Arkansas vs. Texas A&M
Game: Arkansas (3-1, 0-0 SEC) vs. Texas A&M (3-1, 0-1 SEC)
Date: Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Reynolds Razorback Stadium
There have been some great players to face the Razorbacks over the years in Fayetteville, all-time college greats like Earl Campbell, Mike Singletary, Erik Dickerson, Peyton Manning and Reggie Bush to name a select few.
In my mind’s eye, I can recall plays that each of them made right out there on what is now named Frank Broyles Field, some of them back-breaking, heart-breaking plays.
But as great as those players were, I’m not sure any of them generated the electricity that Manziel currently does.
Manziel’s a dangerous runner, which slows pass rushers who seek to stay in lanes for containment purposes, but that only gives 6-1, 210-pound Aggie more time to scramble and find open receivers. A defense can do everything right to defense Manziel, but his grit, toughness and talent can still make it all wrong.
If you have the opportunity — rain or not — don’t miss the chance to watch the Razorbacks attempt to hogtie Manziel and the Aggies. Arkansas is about a two-touchdown underdog, but upsets are common in college football.
I’m not bold enough to actually predict an upset. I wouldn’t want to mislead. But, what if Bret Bielema’s Hogs do notch the first signature victory of his tenure as Arkansas’ head coach? Wouldn’t you kick yourself if you missed it? I think you might.
A Hog victory Saturday would be the biggest since Clint Stoerner exacted a little revenge on Tennessee in 1999 with his game-winning touchdown pass to Anthony Lucas to defeat the No. 3 Vols, 28-24.
Unfortunately, the Razorbacks lack offensive performers as accomplished as Stoerner and Lucas were in their senior seasons.
Even if starting quarterback Brandon Allen was healthy and ready to play, the Aggies would be the favorites.
Manziel and the Aggies are going to score, likely a lot, no matter how well the Razorbacks’ defense plays. The big question to me, though, is how many points Arkansas can manage? Arkansas is averaging just over 28 points a game.
Even if the Razorbacks hit their average, it’s not likely to be enough. No. 1 Alabama had to ring up 49 points to secure a victory over the Aggies, despite winning the time of possession by more than five minutes. The Aggies hung 42 points on the Crimson Tide and were driving for more at the end of the game.
The game is going to be a tough one, but it may be just what the Hogs need to push them to improve, which should serve them well later in the season.