No. 16 Arkansas physically bullied No. 7 Texas A&M in a 20-10 game, beating its rival for the first time since it joined the SEC in 2012. The Razorbacks defense won the day, holding the Aggies offense to just 272 total yards and handing them their first loss since Oct. 3, 2020, against Alabama.
The win marks the second victory against a ranked opponent by Arkansas this season, which could be enough to get it into the top 10 of the college football rankings on Sunday after a blazing start.
Arkansas dominated a Texas A&M squad that struggled offensively in each of its first three matchups, including a narrow 10-7 win over a bad Colorado team. The Razorbacks sacked quarterback Zach Calzada three times, pressured him eight times and posted nine tackles for loss despite rarely bringing extra pressure.
Razorbacks starting QB K.J. Jefferson threw for 212 yards and two touchdowns before getting knocked out for a stretch with an apparent knee injury in the third quarter. Backup Malik Hornsby completed just one pass, but he did enough to keep the offense rolling. Wide receiver Treylon Burks had one of the best games of his career with 167 yards, including an 85-yard touchdown that broke the game open.
Texas A&M leaves with more questions than answers after the offense mustered just 4.6 yards per play against the physical Arkansas defensive line. Running back Isaiah Spiller tried his best with 95 yards rushing and 26 yards receiving, but Calzada could do little more than dink and dunk. Calzada completed 20-of-36 passes for 151 yards, but only one of his passes went further than 20 yards.
Arkansas faces one of the toughest schedules in the SEC, with No. 2 Georgia, No. 13 Ole Miss and No. 23 Auburn in the weeks ahead. So far, coach Sam Pittman's squad has passed every test with flying colors.
CBS Sports was with you the entire way updating this story with the latest from the game. Here's what we learned from today's game.
1. Arkansas belongs in the top 10
Few teams in college football have faced as treacherous a path through the first month as the Razorbacks. With Texas and Texas A&M already in the rearview mirror, any projection would have assumed Arkansas to be 2-2 at this point. However, the development in the trenches under Pittman has been no joke. Arkansas' success can be pinpointed to this team's talent in the trenches. The defense can get after opposing quarterbacks with just three rushers, and even when Jefferson went out with an injury, the offensive line play was impressive enough that Hornsby kept the Razorbacks offense moving.
Seeing Texas manhandle its early Big 12 competition bodes well for how Arkansas might compete against the better SEC opponents that are on the way. Everything is turning up Hogs.
2. Repeating is hard
The assumption around Texas A&M heading into 2021 was the that Aggies would have a chance to compete with Alabama for the SEC West title if they could simply replace some pieces at quarterback and along the offensive line. Well, just like many other contenders, they are learning the hard way that you can't assume development is coming.
The quarterback issues are obvious. Calzada was thrust into action after Haynes King's injury and has failed to complete 60% of his passes in his two starts. Far more concerning, however, is that the Aggies have been forced into using a pair of true freshmen on the offensive line thanks to injuries.
Texas A&M's defense is legitimately excellent, but there's only so much one unit can do to carry a struggling offense. Even having great skill players like Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane can't make the game easy.
3. K.J. Jefferson deserves respect
Arkansas only threw the ball 19 times, with 15 of those coming from Jefferson. But while his numbers are modest, Jefferson's impact on the game was noticeable.
The first-year starter completed 7-of-15 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns, and he rushed for another 50 yards. But while his passing attempts were kept to a minimum, they were on point and delivered with consistency. His length strike to Burks over sixth-year DB Myles Jones was a thing of beauty.
Arkansas is going to be an ugly team that beats opponents in the trenches, just like any offensive line coach turned head coach would want. Jefferson's precision fits Arkansas' system perfectly. The Razorbacks don't win this game without him.
4. Texas A&M needs to make the game easier
With all this talent on offense, it's frustrating to see the Aggies have such consistent offensive woes. Even with a great offensive line and quarterback Kellen Mond last season, blue-chip wide receivers were often left on an island to create opportunities against strong DBs.
Maybe it's not in Jimbo Fisher's DNA, but he has to find ways to simplify the game for the overmatched Calzada. His discomfort maneuvering in the pocket is obvious, especially with the way Texas A&M has struggled on the offensive line. If he can't find ways to generate easy reads for Calzada, the offensive issues are only going to get worse.
5. Arkansas needed this game
Even with this blazing start, the Razorbacks could be underdogs in a majority of games for the rest of the season. Picking off one of these top-10 teams takes a huge amount of pressure off of Pittman's shoulders. Now, Arkansas gets to enter its nightmare stretch from a position of strength. And, who knows, no team has been impervious so far. Winning like this means Arkansas is still playing with house money.