Renewal Of A Rivalry

Razorback head coach Bobby Petrino is looking forward to Saturday night's inaugural Southwest Classic in Dallas between Arkansas (1-2) and Texas A&M (3-0), who has become the nation's leading offense while beating up on three teams with combined records of 2-9.

When the two former Southwest Conference foes get together Saturday night for a new chapter in an old rivalry, it's not likely to look much like days gone by.

Out are three yards-and-a cloud of dust days, in are Texas A&M's West Coast offense – the nation's number one unit this week - and a potent passing attack from Arkansas as well.

Such is the stage for the first annual Southwest Classic with the Razorbacks (1-2) meeting the Aggies (3-0) at the Dallas Cowboys' new billion dollar stadium in Arlington.

"I'm looking forward to going to Dallas and playing A&M," Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino said Monday. "It's exciting for our players, exciting for our program. I think it's great for the tradition and the rivalry in the old Southwest Conference days.

"And we have 20 guys on our team from the state of Texas," Petrino added. " So to be able to go back to Dallas and play there, I know it will help our recruiting. But we have to play well."

Certainly better than the Razorbacks did in a 35-7 loss at Alabama last Saturday.

"We have to improve this week in practice," Petrino said. "We have to go out and execute and put all three phases together - play good offense, good defense and good special teams."

Texas A&M is unbeaten through a trio of overmatched foes in New Mexico (41-6), Utah State (38-30) and UAB (56-19) – all played at home in College Station.

That trio of victims are just 2-9 overall.

The Aggies are averaging 574 yards of total offense per game - 330 passing and 244 rushing.

"They're executing well," Petrino said. They're a very fast-paced offense. They run it and throw it both. You see the quick passing game utilized in the so-called West Coast offense. But they also do some other things, really try to get up to the ball and try to get it snapped quick."

That offense is sparked by junior quarterback Jerrod Johnson (6-5, 243), who is a dual threat through the air and on the ground and thus presents a different look than the Arkansas' defense has seen so far.

"It's a good challenge," Petrino said. "You have to be very disciplined. You have to be good with your eyes. You have to make sure that you see who has the ball and somebody doesn't make an assignment error. When you look back on the Alabama game last week, that's where we really improved is on our gap responsibilities - our linebackers coming downhill. We didn't have many assignment errors in the run game."

Much like last year with Tulsa, the Aggies offense likes to get plays off in 10 seconds or so.

"The offense, the tempo is different from what we've played to this date," Petrino said. "They are so fast-paced. It's all no-huddle and they try to get up and get the ball going as fast as they can."

There are some similarities scheme-wise to both Georgia Alabama per Petrino.

"Defensively, they do some similar things that we saw last week with some of their zone pressures, looks, they play man behind it and so there's some similarities to what we've seen in the georgia game and the Alabama game."

Junior linebacker Von Miller (6-3, 240) leads a defense that is on pace for 56 sacks this season and is coordinator by former Arkansas assistant Joe Kines.

"They've got a great defensive end," Petrino said. "I think he leads the country in sacks. He has 7 1/2 sacks. He's very good when it's one-on-one. He's got good quickness, good strength, a variety of moves. So they try to isolate him. He does a nice job of that and they've gotten some sacks off their blitz schemes, guys coming free and a couple of times they just overwhelm their opponent, too."

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