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October 3, 2009

A&M falls 47-19 in inaugural Southwest Classic

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Ryan Mallett shook off a slow start and threw four touchdown passes to lead Arkansas to a 47-19 victory over Texas A&M on Saturday night in the revival of their Southwest Conference rivalry.

Mallett misfired on his first three passes, was sacked twice and hadn't gotten a first down when the Razorbacks were trailing 10-0. Then the big sophomore hit Joe Adams for a 67-yard gain to start the next series, and Arkansas (2-2) was on its way to scoring 30 points by halftime. The Aggies (3-1) were never able to get back into it, and the Razorbacks never let up.

This "Southwest Classic" was the first of at least a 10-year series held at Cowboys Stadium in hopes of cashing in on recruiting and alumni riches in the Dallas area. The game drew 71,872 fans, but it didn't hold their attention for very long.

The more lopsided the score got, the more folks went for long strolls to check out the $1.15 billion stadium built by Arkansas alum Jerry Jones. Many headed home by the middle of the fourth quarter, although enough Hogs fans remained to crank up a loud chant of "S-E-C! S-E-C!" in the final minutes.

Both teams saw this matchup of unranked but proud programs as a way to measure themselves. The Razorbacks were wondering if their two-game losing streak was a byproduct of playing two highly ranked SEC foes, and the Aggies were wondering if their 3-0 start and eye-popping statistics were the byproduct of playing three cupcakes.

Conclusions were easy to draw.

Mallett, a sophomore transfer from Michigan who won a high school title in Texas in 2006, finished 17-of-27 for 271 yards and an interception, while throwing touchdowns to four receivers. Although he fell one TD pass shy of tying the school record he set two weeks ago, the poise he showed despite those awful first three possessions bodes well for Arkansas as it heads into the teeth of its SEC schedule. They get Auburn next, then play at Florida and at Ole Miss.

Texas A&M's Jerrod Johnson was 30-of-58 for 345 yards and two touchdowns, with most of the numbers piled up mostly after the Aggies fell way behind. He also had two fumbles-one that was returned 85 yards for a touchdown (turning a potential go-ahead drive into a 21-10 deficit) and another in the closing seconds.

A&M gained 458 total yards, well below the nation-leading 574.3 it was averaging. The defense gave up nearly as many points in one game as it had in the previous three games combined and had only two sacks, both in the opening minutes, after coming in with a national-best 4.67 per game.

So much for the lift the Aggies sought by wearing white helmets for the first time since December 1978. Their all-white look might be headed to mothballs for all the good it did them. They'll certainly be looking for something different when they open Big 12 play at home against Oklahoma State next weekend.

A&M's Von Miller, who came in with a national-best eight sacks, had the first against Mallett but was neutralized after a few series. He also had the hit that forced Mallett's interception, just his second of the season.



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