Razorbacks aim to snap SEC streak against Aggies
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) It's good to be Bret Bielema these days at Arkansas.
Exactly how long the good vibes can last for the coach of the Razorbacks is likely to be determined over the next month during a brutal three-game stretch - beginning with a visit to Arlington, Texas, to face No. 6 Texas A&M on Saturday.
After two seasons of disappointment and transition, Arkansas (3-1, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) has finally shed its losing ways with three blowout wins under its second-year coach.
Led by the top rushing attack in the SEC, the confident Razorbacks have won their last three games by a combined score of 174-49 - including a 52-14 win over Northern Illinois last week. The winning ways have been a marked and welcomed change for a school coming off a program-worst 10-game losing streak.
Arkansas hopes to end another streak on Saturday when it tries to snap a 13-game SEC losing stretch against the high-flying Aggies (4-0, 1-0), who lead the conference in scoring with an average of 55.3 points per game and are seeking their first 5-0 start since 2001.
That said, he's also well aware of how far Arkansas has come - and how much a win against Texas A&M would mean for the resurgent program.
''We've made progress; we've done certain things better,'' Bielema said. ''I think, without a doubt, our guys have a lot more confidence than they maybe had a year ago. But until you've done it on a big stage and against a quality opponent like we're going to see Saturday, it's really just talk.''
While the Aggies lead the SEC in scoring, the Razorbacks are close behind with an average of 48.8 points per game.
After failing to score more than 34 points in any game last year, Arkansas' offense has flourished this season behind the running back duo of Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams. Collins leads the SEC with 490 yards rushing, while Williams is fourth with 391 - including an average of 8.1 yards per carry.
Also, quarterback Brandon Allen is fifth in the conference in passing efficiency - completing 43 of 70 passes (61.4 percent) for eight touchdowns and one interception.
The success is a far change from the first season under Bielema and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, when the Razorbacks lost their final nine games of the season. It's also served as a teaching point for the coaching staff, with Bielema saying he needs to work as a ''humbler'' this week to temper any potential overconfidence.
''Arrogance can always sometimes get in the way of production, so you've got to be careful of that,'' Chaney said. ''I think that our kids feel confident in what they're doing.''
Arkansas has a bye after Texas A&M before hosting No. 3 Alabama and No. 12 Georgia. Bielema stressed the importance of the bye week for the Razorbacks before adding he was ''very well aware that we're the only team in the SEC West that's not ranked.''
That would likely change with a win on Saturday.
''We haven't done anything to deserve that,'' Bielema said. ''But you're beginning to establish some value to your name that has nothing to do with dollars. It has to do with what people are saying and what people talk about you. We will earn what we get this Saturday by what we do this week.''