Faculty Soccer Week 4 – Arkansas-Texas A&M within the Southwest Traditional, Notre Dame-Wisconsin and extra
In one of the strangest seasons of recent times, allow us to bring you the strangest one-sided matchup in the last decade.
No. 7 Texas A&M and No. 16 Arkansas will meet on Saturday after playing against each other 77 times since 1903. The two former rivals of the Southwest Conference now play annually at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas in a competition known as the Southwest Classic.
They took a hiatus after the Hogs retired from the SEC in 1991 and didn’t resume the game until 2009, with Arkansas winning three straight times. In 2011, they met just six days after A&M announced it was leaving the Big 12 for the SEC. The Aggies blew a 35-17 lead in the second half and lost 42:38.
But everything has been A&M since 2012, when the Aggies officially returned to the Hogs in SEC West, with the Aggies going 9-0 against Arkansas during that time.
But that streak doesn’t tell the whole story about how wild the games were, regardless of the quality of either team. Three of the games – 2014, 2015 and 2017 – went into overtime. In 2014, Arkansas blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter. In 2015, they lost an eight-point lead with three minutes to go. In 2017, the Aggies won a 50-43 thriller after Christian Kirk scored his third touchdown of the game in OT and the Aggies picked up Austin Allen to finish the game. A total of five of the last seven showdowns were decided by a single result, including the 2019 game with a historically poor Arkansas team that lost their 13th consecutive SEC game under coach Chad Morris.
Also Note: The Aggies kicked Arkansas quarterback Nick Starkel out of the game. The same Nick Starkel who entered the 2017 season as A & M’s starting quarterback before injuring himself and making way for Kellen Mond in the UCLA opener. Starkel decided to move and then moved again to the state of San Jose, where he is now starting.
Texas A&M has still lost to Arkansas since joining the SEC in 2012. Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Last year the game was played at College Station because of the pandemic, with the Aggies going to a 42:31 win.
Now the game returns to Arlington on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS) and the twist this year is that both teams will only be ranked for the third time in their rivalry history. After the Hogs floored Texas two weeks ago, many message board bragging rights are at stake – either Arkansas can claim a state championship in Texas or the Aggies can prove their SEC zeal with the incoming Longhorns. In the real world, meanwhile, the winner becomes the greatest threat to Alabama’s western stranglehold.
The big games
No. 18 Wisconsin at No. 12 Notre Dame (at Soldier Field in Chicago, noon ET, FOX): Here’s Notre Dame’s chance to prove it’s better than what it showed in the first few weeks. Tight wins against Florida State and Toledo are nothing special, and a two-touchdown win over Purdue isn’t glowing endorsement for a team that expects to be among the best in college football every year. For Wisconsin, add an unconferenced victory to their résumé. It won’t necessarily make up for their early season loss to Penn State, but if that remains their only loss and they win, then they are in the playoff business.
# 9 Clemson, NC State (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN / ESPN app): The Tigers come into this game with a 14-8 win over a Georgia Tech team that were massive underdogs. Nowhere near the hype it received before the season, Clemson’s offensive will go up against an NC State defense currently ranked 23rd on Bill Connelly’s SP +. The Tigers should and are preferred in this game, but they have to show some kind of life on the offensive before people really start to panic with this team. It certainly helps that their defense hasn’t allowed a single offensive touchdown this season.
Rutgers at No. 19 Michigan (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC / ESPN app): There is an intrigue to this game that we’re not sure anyone expected to come into the season. Rutgers are 3-0, and Michigan, also undefeated, was arguably the Big Ten East’s best team. The Scarlet Knights will do without two cornerbacks, Max Melton and Chris Long, who were taken into police custody over a paintball gun incident. Melton, who is a starter, has two interceptions, a blocked punt, a fumble recovery, and eight tackles this season. That will certainly benefit Michigan and Cade McNamara, who is proving to be one of Jim Harbaugh’s best quarterbacks since he became head coach at Ann Arbor.
Southern Miss Ranked # 1 in Alabama (7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network / ESPN App): Another measure of size is the only real intrigue in this one. Nick Saban can win his 100th game in a row against an unrated opponent. That’s longer than the next three longest active streaks combined (Clemson at 36, Notre Dame at 35, and Cincinnati at 24).
Akron, Ohio No. 10 (7:30 p.m. ET, BTN): If you are genuinely interested in evaluating the teams we believe are playoff contenders, this game is your one to keep an eye on. The Ohio State Defense has given up at a pace we are just not used to. The Buckeyes gave up 408 yards against Minnesota, 505 against Oregon and 501 against Tulsa. They can’t keep up with this pace and expect to get into the playoffs in January. Ryan Day moved from Kerry Coombs to Matt Barnes against the Golden Hurricane last week and while the change didn’t make a huge difference, it will be a situation worth watching over the course of the Buckeyes’ season. Ohio State hasn’t lost to any team in the state since 1921, and that probably won’t change on Saturday either. But keep an eye on the boxing score here.
West Virginia at No. 4 Oklahoma (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC / ESPN app): The real intrigue here is to see if Oklahoma’s offensive can get back in shape and prove they belong to that high rank. Last week, Nebraska held the Sooners on the fewest points (23) since Lincoln Riley arrived at Norman. Spencer Rattler, the preseason favorite for the Heisman, appears to have fallen out of the competition. But none of this will matter if the Sooners can continue to win, regardless of the margin or number of fireworks. West Virginia is 0-25 against the top 5 teams all the time.
Arizona # 3 Oregon (10:30 p.m. ET ESPN / ESPN App): UCLA lost to the state of Fresno last weekend. USC has already fired its coach. It seems the Ducks will have to survive the season to be the conference’s only hope of a playoff spot. This game seems like a safe bet: the Wildcats are 0-3, 28-point underdogs, and lose to Northern Arizona.
A man of his word
Last week, Portland State Coach Bruce Barnum offered to buy everyone’s beer (and as much as they wanted) at his namesake Barny’s Beer Garden at Hillsboro Stadium to encourage fans to come out and see his Vikings. On Tuesday, the coach had the receipts: a cash tab of $ 14,448.
– Bruce Barnum (@ CoachBarnum69) September 21, 2021
The best jerseys of the week
UTEP is playing New Mexico on Saturday, and while we normally wouldn’t recommend you watch this game, we’d like to introduce you to the Miners’ Texas Western Uniforms:
𝐓𝐞𝐚𝐦 𝐀𝐩𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐝 ✅ # FlyinMiners • #PicksUp • #TWC pic.twitter.com/TZ5eNpHGyz
– UTEP football (@UTEPFB) September 20, 2021
The best NIL shirt so far
https://t.co/Q0pHuBM78X get your shirt now !! pic.twitter.com/K1aSBd4MPt
– DJ Graham (@djgraham_) September 21, 2021
One of the highlights of the third week is already one of the highlights of the name, image and likeness era. Oklahoma’s DJ Graham sells t-shirts with his Odell Beckham Jr.-approved interception.