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Monday, October 3, 2022

Hogs Heading to “Jerry World” this Saturday to Battle the Aggies in the Southwest Classic

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Arkansas returns to conference play on Saturday to face the Texas A&M Aggies in the renewal of the Southwest Classic. The game is a neutral site conference game for both schools that will be played at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. Kickoff on Saturday is set for 6 p.m. The game will be nationally televised by ESPN. As part of ESPN’s coverage, the network’s “SEC Nation” pregame show will also be there to highlight the game. It will be the second time this season that SEC Nation has selected the Hogs for their national game of the week; the first being their season opener in Fayetteville vs. Cincinnati.

Arkansas survived a non-conference scare last Saturday against a highly-motivated Missouri State team coached by returning coach Bobby Petrino. Among many issues for the Hogs in that game, the defensive secondary continues to be a liability for the defense, and on Monday, Hogs head coach Sam Pittman was considering possible changes to the secondary. Myles Slusher has been eagerly awaiting his return to action following an injury in the Cincinnati game, and it is possible that he was held out last week to be ready for the game against Texas A&M. Arkansas needs his speed and athleticism in the secondary.

Here are some notes on this Saturday’s game versus Texas A&M as provided by the University of Arkansas:

AP/Coaches Poll: 23/20
Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher (Salem [W.Va.], ‘90)
Career Record: 119-38 (13th season)
Record at Texas A&M: 36-15 (5th season)

AP/Coaches Poll: 10/10
Head Coach: Sam Pittman (Pittsburg State [Kan.], ‘86)
Career Record: 15-11 (3rd season)
Record at Arkansas: Same

• No. 10 Arkansas hits the road for the first time this year to take on SEC West foe No. 23 Texas A&M in the 79th edition of the Southwest Classic. Kickoff between the Razorbacks and Aggies from inside AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, is set for 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, on ESPN.

• For the second week in a row, Arkansas is ranked in the top 10. The Hogs stayed put at No. 10 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, marking the first time since 2012 that Arkansas has spent consecutive weeks in the AP’s top 10.

• The Hogs are off to a 3-0 start for the second straight year, a feat that had not happened at Arkansas since 2010-11. With a win against Texas A&M, Arkansas would improve to 4-0 in back-to-back years for the first time since 1988-89.

• QB KJ Jefferson continues to wreak havoc on opposing defenses through the air and on the ground. Jefferson has completed 55-of-78 passes (70.5%) for 770 yards and six touchdowns while rushing for 169 yards and three scores through the first three games of the season. He ranks second in the SEC and 15th nationally in total offense, generating 313.0 total yards of offense per game.

• RB Raheim ‘Rocket’ Sanders is the Razorbacks’ leading ball carrier through three games, totaling 440 yards on 66 carries (6.3 avg) with three scores on the ground. Sanders, who posted his third consecutive 100-yard rushing effort in the win over Missouri State, leads the SEC and ranks fourth
nationally in rushing yards (440) this season. His 146.7 rushing yards per game rank third in the country.

• WR Jadon Haselwood has helped lead Arkansas’ receiving corps through the first three games of the season with 13 catches for 158 yards (12.2 avg) and a pair of touchdowns. A transfer from Oklahoma, Haselwood has caught three or more passes in each of his first three games as a Razorback and has tallied at least one reception in 15 consecutive games dating back to the start of the 2021 season.

• LB Drew Sanders has turned heads with his play on the defensive side of the ball this season. A transfer from Alabama, Sanders has racked up 28 total tackles (16 solo) with a team-leading 6.5 tackles for loss and a team-high 5.5 sacks through the first three games. He is tied for the national lead in sacks with 5.5 and has tallied at least one sack in all three games this year, including multiple
quarterback take downs in each of the past two contests.

The game with Texas A&M is a game the Hogs cannot afford to look past anticipating a game with Alabama at home the following week. Defeating A&M this week would set up a raucous crowd at Razorbacks Stadium for a showdown with the Tide. But for now, it is all A&M, and if history plays out this weekend, the game should be another classic with a barn burner finish. The Aggies will be out to avenge last year’s loss to Arkansas, and Sam Pittman’s crew will be looking to play much better than last week in their conference game with Texas A&M.

It should be another great game in the long-standing series with this former Southwest Conference rival opponent. So….GO HOGS!

Note to Our Readers: Some portions of this story were sourced directly from the University of Arkansas Office of Communications, Kyle Parkinson, Associate AD / Communications

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Jim Best
Jim Best is a man of many talents. His storied career in Arkansas education led him to a new passion, and hidden gifts in sports journalism.
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