Arkansas cornerback Tevin Mitchel had to watch last season as Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel picked apart his defense in a 58-10 blowout.Saturday, Mitchel will get his chance to face the Aggies’ fast-paced offense that has scored at least 40 points in its first four games of the season.Mitchel, a junior out of Mansfield Legacy, is eager for the challenge.“I’m doing everything I can to prepare myself for this game,” Mitchel said. “It’s a big game for us.“Saturday is a great opportunity for me to go out and represent Mansfield, going against A&M, a Texas team. All of my family and friends in Mansfield will be watching.”Mitchel made an immediate impact as a freshman in 2011. He started seven games for the Razorbacks, including the final six of the season. He finished with 56 tackles and a fumble recovery in a big win against a ranked A&M team at Cowboys Stadium. But last season, Mitchel had a setback with an injury in a 34-31 overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe in the second game. He missed four games, including the Razorbacks’ loss at A&M when Manziel threw for 453 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions to go with 104 yards rushing and another score.“They have a good offense, team and quarterback,” Mitchel said about Saturday’s rematch against the No. 10 Aggies (3-1, 0-1 SEC), this time a home game in Fayetteville, Ark. “We have to focus, especially the back seven, on our discipline and be physical.”Mitchel did start seven games in 2012, but he finished with just 34 tackles and an interception. This year, he is fifth on the team with 22 total tackles and tied for first with 11 unassisted. He also has an interception, a tackle for loss and two pass break-ups.Mitchel credits tough high school competition with his quick adjustment to the speed he sees weekly in the SEC.“It helped prepare me a lot, especial playing teams like Timberview, Summit, Mansfield and Cedar Hill,” Mitchel said. “It helped me to play against fast receivers, quarterbacks and running backs.”Mitchel has also been through turmoil at Arkansas (3-1), with coach Bobby Petrino being fired after the 2011 season. Then, after John L. Smith coached the Razorbacks to a 4-8 record last season, Arkansas brought in Bret Bielema from Wisconsin.“Since he’s been here, we’re more disciplined,” Mitchel said. “We are in the film room more. We’re growing as men. We are a family. He brought us together.”The Aggies are the next test for Arkansas, which lost 28-24 last week at Rutgers. Mitchel has been studying.“Everything has been a fast tempo,” he said. “Just getting our minds ready and our bodies ready for this weekend.”
Games of the week
No. 6 LSU at No. 9 Georgia (2:30 p.m. Saturday, KTVT/11): In a week full of big games, the Tigers (4-0, 1-0 SEC) on the road playing the Bulldogs (2-1, 1-0 SEC) stands out. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, once a player at Georgia, gets a shot at his old team in his home state. A road win for LSU would go a long way to boost the Tigers, who still have Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama and Texas A&M ahead. A loss probably drops the Bulldogs out of the national-championship picture. A lot is on the line for both teams.
No. 21 Ole Miss at No. 1 Alabama (5:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN): Coach Hugh Freeze has the Rebels (3-0, 1-0 SEC) looking like a strong team with a fast-tempo offense that could give the top-ranked Crimson Tide (3-0, 1-0 SEC) some trouble. But can the Ole Miss defense get off the field to give its offense a chance?
No. 23 Wisconsin at No. 4 Ohio State (7 p.m. Saturday, WFAA/8): Even though the Buckeyes (4-0) haven’t lost a game, they have dropped two spots in The Associated Press poll. Ohio State has a chance to make a statement with back-to-back games against ranked opponents (No. 17 Northwestern next week) but should be wary of the Badgers (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten). Wisconsin won’t go down as easily as Florida A&M, which lost 76-0 to the Buckeyes last week.
USC at Arizona State (9:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN2): While a loss to Stanford last week dropped the Sun Devils (2-1, 0-1 Pac-12) out of the polls, this game will still be interesting. If Arizona State bounces back with a home win, USC (2-1, 0-1 Pac-12) and coach Lane Kiffin will be in big trouble. If the Trojans, who have already lost to Washington State, can pull off a road win, a once-hopeful Arizona State team will start feeling some pressure. Either way, one will be 0-2 in the conference and in trouble.
742 Days between FBS wins for Kansas. The Jayhawks, who last beat an FBS team on Sept. 10, 2011 (Northern Illinois), needed a late defensive takeaway and last-second field goal to beat Louisiana Tech 13-10 Saturday.
490 Yards a game for the Ole Miss offense through three games. Saturday, the Rebels will face an Alabama team that gave up 628 yards to Texas A&M two weeks ago.
“We were really kind of hoping that we’d get the call sheet, several of the other key pieces of information.” — LSU coach Les Miles joking about his quarterback Zach Mettenberger’s ties to the Georgia program. Mettenberger’s mother is Georgia coach Mark Richt’s secretary and was given the week off leading up to Saturday’s big game between the Bulldogs and Tigers.
“They are the king of the Big Ten right now.” — Ohio State coach Urban Meyer about Wisconsin. Meyer, whose Buckeyes host the Badgers this week, also predicted a “classic” game between the two teams.