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Changing the Status Quo

By Matt Osborne
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If the early results are any indication, the Arkansas Razorbacks are well on their way to bucking the trend that has haunted them in recent seasons.

If the early results are any indication, the Arkansas Razorbacks are well on their way to bucking the trend that has haunted them in recent seasons.

Now, they are on the brink of coming face to face with another trend that has hampered the program recently.

Though the Razorbacks have enjoyed decent success over the past two seasons, they have been notoriously slow starters. After starting 0-4 in conference play in 2014, they reeled off wins in four of their last six contests, including a bowl victory over Texas. Last fall, Arkansas lost three of its first four contests, only to win seven out of nine coming down the stretch.

It certainly hasn’t always been pretty, but Arkansas currently finds itself with a 3-0 record after wins over Louisiana Tech (21-20), No. 15 TCU (41-38 in 2OT) and Texas State (42-3). The Razorbacks have also jumped up to No. 17 in the Associated Press poll after starting the season outside of the rankings.

For a team that has shown that it grows and matures as well as anyone in the country as the season progresses, a perfect 3-0 is an extremely welcome sign, regardless of some of the inconsistencies.

And Arkansas should undoubtedly feel very good about the positive momentum which it has been able to generate, especially considering the program’s upcoming opponent.

Texas A&M has played a major part in the Razorbacks’ early struggles the last two years, and will look to once again throw a wrench into Arkansas’ season when the two teams square off this Saturday.

In each of the last two meetings, Arkansas has jumped out to a comfortable lead over the Aggies only to have Texas A&M rally back for dramatic overtime victories. The losses have been particularly devastating to the Razorbacks, especially considering the manner in which they occurred and the fact that they took place at the beginning of the conference schedule.

The devastating losses to the Aggies in recent season are certainly not something that has been lost on the Arkansas players or coaches, either.

“To have an opportunity to open up against [Texas] A&M in AT&T Stadium in a game that has not gone well for us the last three years, I think our guys are wired in to that,” head coach Bret Bielema commented during his weekly press conference. “I think our guys are going to be wired in and it should be fun energy-wise.”

Many experts feel that the Razorbacks have actually outplayed the Aggies in the last two contests, despite the fact that Texas A&M walked away with both meetings.

But Bielema know that his teams simply did not perform well enough in the past –especially down the stretch – to be able to beat a quality SEC opponent.

“We’ve lost it, but they’ve earned it,” Bielema said of the recent outcomes in the series. “The one thing I’ve had always said all along is that you have to earn everything.”

Currently sitting as a six-point underdog heading into this weekend’s contest, it would be natural to say that Arkansas must play well in order to pull the mild upset on Saturday.

But, in reality, playing well has not really been an issue for the Razorbacks in this series.

Rather, it is now a matter of whether or not the team has become tough enough mentally to finish the deal.

Matt Osborne - Matt Osborne currently serves as the director of recruiting and lead editor for Southern Pigskin. His work has been published in a number of national publications, including USA Today. Although he loves all levels of football, Matt's number one joy in his life is his relationship with Jesus Christ. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattOsborne200. For media requests, please email Matt at