Where: Fayetteville, AR
When: Saturday 4:30 p.m. PDT
TV: SEC Network
It’s that week for the Spartans. Time for the “money game.”
San Jose State (1-1) is a 21.5 dog to Arkansas (2-1) as the Spartans showed an unimpressive defensive performance in its last time out against Tulsa, it seems like a fair line, even if seems a little high.
The Razorbacks have been all over the place in 2019. The SEC school has an ugly 20-13 win over Portland State, a blowout win against Colorado State and a frustrating loss to Ole Miss. Arkansas is a team still searching for an identity, and the Spartans are a good team to find it against.
Junior Running back (and Last Chance U alum) Rakeem Boyd has been the centerpiece of the Razorback’s offense. He’s 21st in the nation in rushing with 303 yards and 5.5 yards per attempt. Expect Arkansas to feed him early and often.
As seen two weeks ago against Tulsa, SJSU’s rush-defense looks suspect to say the least.
Tulsa’s backs thrashed the Spartans for 256 yards on the ground. If the Razorbacks want to, they can hand the ball to Boyd and Devwah Whaley 40 times and rush for 300+ yards on the Spartans.
But Arkansas might want to get its air game going. A junior transfer from Texas A&M, Nick Starkel has had an efficient three games as the Razorbacks field general. Thus far, he’s 41 of 61 with 4 touchdowns to a lone interception, averaging a modest 184 yards per game.
Those aren’t bad numbers by any stretch, but the Razorbacks might want to use this game as a test for its QB. They know they’ll be able to run it against the Spartans, might as well see if their QB can put up some bigger numbers.
On the other side of the ball, the Spartans are going to rely on their own gunslinger in Josh Love. He’s yet to throw a pick this season, and he’s got three TD’s with 206 YPG. And if the Spartans want any chance in pulling off the upset, Love has to play up to his potential and be lights out.
Arkansas plays solid pass defense. It allows just over 200 YPG in the air and puts pressure on the QB with 10 sacks in three games. Where things start to slip, much like SJSU, is on the ground.
The Razorbacks struggled against Ole Miss to defend the rushing attack. They allowed 259 yards on the ground to the Rebels. SJSU hasn’t been able to turn on its rushing game yet, so Arkansas might be in the clear in this one. True freshman QB Nick Nash is still SJSU’s leading rusher, despite seeing very limited action.
Arkansas’ defensive gameplay will be simple, defend the pass and force SJSU to hand the ball to Dejon Packer and Tyler Nevens.
It won’t be pretty. As stated above, the Razorbacks will likely want to get Starkel going early to see what they really have at that position. If he can’t take the game over, they’ll give it to Boyd to tear the Spartans up.
If you're a Spartan fan, don’t expect much on Saturday. It’s a money game for a reason. Just watch to see how the offensive and defensive lines handle some SEC linemen.
Arkansas 49, San Jose State 24