by Travis Normand
Last spring I wrote that Arkansas was the most important game on Texas A&M’s 2018 schedule. Fortunately for the Aggies, they were able to defeat Arkansas 24-17, in what ended up being a crucial bounce-back game for A&M, one week after they lost to Alabama (and put A&M’s 2018 overall record at 3-2 instead of 2-3).
While Texas A&M’s 2019 schedule features some huge match-ups against Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, and LSU; it also features Arkansas again (as it does every year, as the two schools are both SEC West Division foes).
For a lot of the same reasons as last year, Arkansas is an important game again in 2019 for the Aggies. A better way to describe it might be to call it a crucial “swing game.” After all, Arkansas is rebuilding and had a “down” season in 2018. Further, with all the big match-ups A&M has scheduled in 2019, the Aggies don’t have any room to drop a game against a program that they should have long-since surpassed.
Further, like last year, Arkansas’ coach is an Aggie and their defensive coordinator is John Chavis. While I think A&M upgraded at the defensive coordinator position by hiring Mike Elko, Chavis is a good coordinator and you don’t want the guy you tossed out beating your “upgrade.”
Finally, before the 2018 season began, I felt like all of this was important and Arkansas was a game that A&M must win. After the game was played and A&M had won, I felt like these issues had been put to bed and were something that didn’t need to be discussed again. However, as you are probably aware, A&M’s back-up quarterback, Nick Starkel, decided to transfer to Arkansas a few months back and he should be their starter when A&M faces them in 2019. In other words, Starkel has brought the Arkansas game back to the forefront in 2019. Not only does A&M need to win all the games it can (especially with Clemson, Alabama, and Georgia on the schedule), but we are going to find out if Chad Morris and Nick Starkel can keep pace with Jimbo Fisher and Kellen Mond.
So, while I am sure that Aggies everywhere will be circling games against Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, and LSU on their 2019 schedules; I would urge them to at least underline the Arkansas game.