Offense keeps No. 10 Texas A&M alive against Arkansas; more late Snap Judgments
Snap Judgments from the Week 5 late slate. For more content check out Pete Thamel’s story from LSU-Georgia, Andy Staples’ story from Ole Miss-Alabama, Martin Rickman’s story from Wisconsin-Ohio State and our early and midday snaps.
• No. 10 Texas A&M 45, Arkansas 33: Try as they might, Texas A&M’s high-powered offense just couldn’t seem to keep Arkansas out of its hair on Saturday in Fayetteville.
The pesky Hogs kept things close with the prolific Aggies until the final period in the SEC West clash. Arkansas found itself tied 7-7 with A&M early in the first quarter. When the Aggies turned on their offense and scored on their next three drives, the Razorbacks buckled down and crept back to within four by halftime. Even by the end of the third quarter, an A&M offense that came in averaging 50 points per game held only a slim five-point lead over Bret Bielema’s team.
The final period, however, was when Texas A&M’s defense decided to do its job. Ben Malena rushed in a touchdown to boost the Aggies’ lead to 45-33 with just over 10 minutes left, but the A&M defense kept Arkansas from threatening any longer, forcing a punt, a failed fourth-down conversion and an interception on the Hogs’ final three possessions.
Most have faith in Texas A&M’s ability to move the ball. In this game, the Aggies tallied 523 total yards and were about as balanced as a team can be, recording 261 passing yards and 262 rushing yards. Johnny Manziel was himself, finishing 23-of-30 for 261 passing yards alongside 59 rushing yards. Mike Evans hauled in 116 reception yards and two touchdowns on only six catches, and both Trey Williams and Tra Carson were productive on the ground, averaging 9.2 and 7.1 yards per carry, respectively.
The question is whether the Aggies have to score 45 or 50 points each week to stay in a game, because the defense hasn’t offered much reason to expect lock-down performances in the future. Obviously Kevin Sumlin’s team gave up 568 yards and 48 points against No. 1 Alabama’s shaky offense two weeks ago, but questions existed even before that. In the team’s first two games against Rice and Sam Houston State, the Aggies’ defense allowed an average of 29.5 points against lesser opponents.
This time it was Arkansas’ turn to expose the A&M defense. The Hogs managed 483 total yards and actually outgained the Aggies through the air — 282 to 261 — in quarterback Brandon Allen’s return after missing last week’s game against Rutgers with a shoulder injury.
We seem to know what to expect from Texas A&M’s offense, but as the Aggies venture into an SEC schedule where more than a few of the league’s teams have taken on a decidedly offensive flavor, it seems fair to ask whether or not Sumlin’s team can handle the more difficult weeks ahead on defense. [RECAP | BOX]
• No. 1 Alabama 25, No. 21 Mississippi 0: Rebels quarterback Bo Wallace must have been mistaken this week when he said Ole Miss would put points up on Alabama. The Tide clamped down on defense to halt the Rebels’ win streak, and SI.com’s Andy Staples was in Tuscaloosa for all the action. [RECAP | BOX]
• No. 4 Ohio State 31, No. 23 Wisconsin 24: There wasn’t much of a hangover for Braxton Miller in returning from his knee injury. Miller threw for a career-high four touchdowns as the Buckeyes notched their 17th straight overall win. SI.com’s Martin Rickman was in Columbus. [RECAP | BOX]
• No. 5 Stanford 55, Washington State 17: Stanford dropped a game against Washington last season that spoiled the Cardinal’s perfect record. There was no such threat in this year’s visit to the Pacific Northwest. Stanford remained unbeaten thanks to 286 yards and three touchdown passes from quarterback Kevin Hogan and a big showing from the Cardinal’s defense, which limited Washington State to 51 rushing yards and four of 16 on third down. [RECAP | BOX]
• Arizona State 62, USC 41: What else can go wrong for USC? The Trojans held a 21-20 lead in the third quarter against Arizona State before the Sun Devils ran off 28 straight points to take a commanding 48-21 lead, a lead they would not relinquish. USC receiver Marqise Lee left the game after seemingly suffering an injury to his leg in the fourth quarter. And the Trojans’ defense gave up 62 points, tied with Oregon’s output in 2012 as the most points ever scored on a USC team. In all, the Trojans’ defense, which was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise difficult season in Los Angeles, gave up 608 yards of total offense to an Arizona State attack that came in averaging just under 470 per game. It’s safe to say the pressure on coach Lane Kiffin has reached an all-time high. [RECAP | BOX]
• No. 20 Florida 24, Kentucky 7: Tyler Murphy looked sharp in his first start as the replacement for injured quarterback Jeff Driskel. Murphy threw for 156 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another score as No. 20 Florida extended its win streak over Kentucky to 27 straight games. But the Gators defense also came through, holding the Wildcats to only 178 total yards of offense in Lexington. [RECAP | BOX]
• No. 16 Washington 31, Arizona 13: Washington’s Bishop Sankey laid his claim as one of the nation’s most unheralded running backs against the Wildcats. Sankey carried the ball a school-record 40 times for 161 yards and a touchdown as the Huskies answered their critics and performed on offense against their first defensive test. Washington rang up 409 total yards of offense, and Sankey outgained Arizona’s Ka-Deem Carey — the country’s leading rusher last season — on the ground. Even in the rain, Huskies’ quarterback Keith Price played well, completing 14-of-25 passes for 165 yards, two touchdowns and one pick. [RECAP | BOX]
• No. 2 Oregon 55, Cal 16: Oregon did what Oregon does best in its matchup against Cal: Reach the end zone with speed. The Ducks scored the game’s first 41 points to take a 41-3 lead into halftime against the Bears. Quarterback Marcus Mariota combined for three total touchdowns, and the Oregon defense forced five Cal turnovers. It wasn’t all good news for the Ducks, though: Running back De’Anthony Thomas left the game after injuring his leg on the game’s opening kickoff and did not return. [RECAP | BOX]
• Missouri 41, Arkansas State 19: There are now only two unbeaten teams in the SEC: No. 1 Alabama, and the Missouri Tigers, who shook off a slow first half to rout Arkansas State on Saturday. After his team trailed 16-14 in the third quarter, Missouri quarterback James Franklin tossed two touchdowns and ran for another to help the Tigers break open the game. [RECAP | BOX]