The No. 10 Texas A&M Aggies (4-0) justified the hype surrounding their College Football Playoff hopes on Saturday night with a 45-24 win over the No. 17 Arkansas Razorbacks (3-1) at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Quarterback Trevor Knight set the tone for a high-powered Aggies offense with an epic dual-threat performance that included 225 yards and two touchdowns through the air as well as 158 yards and two scores on the ground.
Knight’s steady rushing display buoyed an A&M rushing attack that tallied 366 total rushing yards at a 9.9-yard-per-carry clip against the SEC’s third-ranked run defense.
The Razorbacks weren’t nearly as potent, but quarterback Austin Allen and running back Rawleigh Williams III provided enough stability to help Arkansas hang around.
Allen—who was under siege all night—finished with 371 yards and two touchdowns on 28-of-42 passing, while Williams rushed 17 times for 79 yards and a score.
CBS Sports’ Jon Solomon came away impressed with Allen’s composure in the pocket against the Aggies’ supremely talented front seven:
The Razorbacks actually wielded the more consistent offense in the first half, but a slew of big plays allowed the Aggies to keep pace and enter the locker room tied at 17.
Although Allen completed 12 of his first 15 passes for 165 yards and Williams averaged 7.1 yards per carry over the game’s first 30 minutes, Texas A&M matched the Hogs score for score thanks to Knight’s rushing capabilities.
Not only did Knight open the Aggies scoring with a 42-yard rushing touchdown eight seconds into the second quarter to tie things at seven, but he knotted the game at 17 shortly before halftime with a 48-yard scoring scamper:
ESPN.com’s Sam Khan Jr. noted that Knight’s work on the ground resembled that of a certain Heisman Trophy front-runner:
And while Knight didn’t get much going through the air in the first half, that changed in the third quarter.
After Texas A&M secured a 4th-and-goal stop of the Razorbacks, Knight dropped back and hit receiver Josh Reynolds for a 92-yard touchdown.
According to the program’s official Twitter account, Reynolds is the only player in school history with two touchdown catches of at least 90 yards.
With the momentum surging in Texas A&M’s favor, the Aggies saw an opportunity to push the Razorbacks up against the ropes and deliver a haymaker.
Running back Trayveon Williams (153 yards, two touchdowns) delivered on the next possession with a 33-yard touchdown run up the gut, and the long-range score put the Aggies up 14 points as time started to work against the Razorbacks.
And as the Dallas Morning News‘ Ben Baby noted, the scoreboard didn’t reflect the flow of a game that saw Arkansas record a 20-minute time-possession advantage:
Arkansas proceeded to cough the ball up on its next drive, and Knight promptly hit Christian Kirk for a nine-yard touchdown pass that ended the Hogs’ hopes of a big SEC upset.
Texas A&M’s 21 unanswered points not only sent the Hogs packing, but they reinforced just how explosive this team could be as it continues to develop chemistry with Knight at the helm.
Looking ahead, the Aggies will be heavily favored to move to 5-0 when they square off against the South Carolina Gamecocks next weekend at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Although the Gamecocks will have a home crowd behind them, the Aggies should have no trouble exploiting a defense that has struggled against the likes of Mississippi State and Kentucky.
The Razorbacks are in a similar boat.
Although they’ll need to rediscover their mojo a bit after failing to contain the Aggies, the Hogs will host Alcorn State in a game that should allow for prosperity on both sides of the ball.
That said, Arkansas won’t have it easy for long.
A meeting with the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide awaits on Oct. 8, and the Razorbacks figure to have their hands full against quarterback Jalen Hurts and a defense packed with NFL prospects.
“Someone asked me last week what Trevor Knight’s best stat was, and I told them ‘winning,'” head coach Kevin Sumlin told reporters, per TexAgs.com on Twitter.
“He’s a good player,” Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said of Knight, per SEC Country’s Trent Shadid. “They play to his strengths. I think he’s a lot faster than people think when you see him out there running. But if our design in how we want to play doesn’t get carried out, it’s not going to work.”
“Team chemistry is the difference for us,” Knight said, per TexAgs. “We’re learning so much every week about how to respond and play together.”
On the flip side, Bielema was not thrilled with his team’s performance, per the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette‘s Jimmy Carter:
“We thought if we made (Knight) run east and west and make him throw, we could be successful,” Bielema added, per Shadid. “For him to have those big runs in the first half, that’s unacceptable.”
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Source: Bleacher Report -SEC Football