2:58 PM on Oct 30, 2020 CDT
Texas A&M’s series with Arkansas has been competitive lately even when the Razorbacks haven’t been.
After breaking that 20-game SEC losing streak earlier this season against Mississippi State, Arkansas (2-2, 2-2 SEC) is finally showing signs of life under first-year coach Sam Pittman.
Yes, the Aggies have noticed – everything from Florida transfer quarterback Feleipe Franks to a defense that has forced 13 turnovers in four games, including 10 interceptions.
“They have been very opportunistic as a football team and play extremely hard, physical, very well coached and play together extremely well,” Fisher said.
A&M has beaten their old Southwest Conference rival eight straight times dating back to 2012.
What better way for Arkansas to build on the moment than beating an A&M team that is already getting some national attention as a College Football Playoff contender if things go right?
Already Arkansas fans are giddy after back-to-back 2-10 records during Chad Morris’ abbreviated run in 2018 and ’19.
“Well you know our Razorback fans needed this to be honest with you,” Pittman said during a recent appearance on the ESPN’s SportsCenter. “They wanted it so bad, and there’s not any pro sports in the area so they’re so excited. And it was just a blessing for our kids to go out there and play really hard, and coaches did a nice job getting prepared.
“It was so much fun, both at Mississippi State and of course last week vs. Ole Miss.”
“I think that’s why they’re excelling, they’ve got an O-line coach there,” said A&M offensive tackle Carson Green, throwing a shoutout to Pittman’s well-traveled history as an offensive line coach at nine different FBS schools before landing the job in Fayetteville.
But A&M (3-1, 3-1 SEC) has much on the line, too.
The Aggies are coming off back-to-back wins against Florida and Mississippi State and are trying to start 4-1 in the SEC for the first time since 2016, when they were coming off wins in their first four games.
The Aggies had an off week, with Fisher saying he liked the way his team reacted.
“They understand that there’s a lot to be done,” Fisher said. “Even though we’ve had a limited amount of success in the season we’ve had they understand there is a lot of room to get better and how hard they got to work. I think they went into the off week with that attitude.”
The matchup will be taking a one-game break from its series at AT&T Stadium, with the game moved to Kyle Field at A&M’s request because of the COVID-19-shortened, SEC-only schedule.
After Florida encountered a charged atmosphere at A&M, Pittman has said he’s preparing for 50,000 fans, although attendance at Kyle Field is limited to 25%.
Regardless of the venue or the records, expect a close game.
Five of the past six games have been decided by one score or fewer.
“I mean Arkansas and A&M have played for so many years, they know each other so well and it means a lot to the alums and everybody else that it just becomes that game,” Fisher said. “Almost every league I’ve ever been in I’ve had those.
“I mean NC State and Florida State was always like that, no matter what, it was always a battle. I remember when I was at LSU, we beat Kentucky two years in a row on the last play.”