LITTLE ROCK — Supporting the conclusion that the first impression is a lasting one, well-educated people have authored papers and addressed conferences on the subject.

LITTLE ROCK — Supporting the conclusion that the first impression is a lasting one, well-educated people have authored papers and addressed conferences on the subject.

Done on a very limited basis, personal research into the topic reached the identical conclusion.

Exhibit No. 1 and only is Texas A&M football.

Noted previously, the Aggies were No. 21 in The Associate Press preseason poll and jumped 12 spots based on 52-28 over South Carolina. This week, A&M is No. 6.

Last week, both Brett McMurphy and Mark Schlabach of ESPN decided A&M would represent the SEC in the College Football Playoff. They went so far as to match A&M against Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl.

Maybe they shied away from more popular picks from the SEC to generate reaction, but including the Aggies with the Seminoles, Oklahoma and Oregon is based on the Aug. 28 results in Columbia, S.C., and the Gamecocks’ victory over Georgia. Dismissed were Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss, all unbeaten members of the Western Division.

Since the season opener, all A&M has done is win big as expected, beating a team that lost to Old Dominion, one in the league with Nicholls State, and a third whose coach resigned days earlier.

I understand the desire to know in September who will participate in the playoff, but I keep coming back to withholding judgment until a team gets the job done in the fourth quarter when the margin is a touchdown or less.

Neither Arkansas nor A&M has been in that situation, one of many factors that mold the intrigue of their game on Saturday.

Each week, the Aggies have led by 17 or more after three quarters. The winner of three straight by big margins, Arkansas trailed Auburn by 14 after three quarters in the season-opening loss.

Both teams will attempt to make the other win left-handed. Because of that, my checklist for the game includes:

• Can A&M can stop Arkansas’ running game? Except for the second half against Auburn, nobody has done that. A&M is better equipped than Arkansas’ last three opponents, each overmatched at the line of scrimmage. If the Aggies have to gang up vs. the run, the opportunity for Arkansas to throw successfully goes up dramatically.

• Do the Aggies even have a running game? Although Kenny Hill threw 60 times against South Carolina, he has attempted only 79 passes since because the Aggies didn’t need more from him. If the Aggies can run effectively, Arkansas’ back seven on defense will be in a bind.

• Can Arkansas complete passes when needed? I like what Brandon Allen did late in the first half against NIU, completing 6-of-7 for 58 yards, including a touchdown pass at the end of a lengthy scramble, after the Huskies scored their first touchdown. Against A&M, the onus is on Arkansas’ receivers as much as Allen.

• Will Arkansas’ pass defense, including the rush, be effective against A&M? The Aggies’ receivers are better than those at Tech and most every pass the Red Raiders attempted was short whereas Hill will go deep. For what it’s worth, the Aggies have six receivers with at least a dozen catches and five are averaging 11 yards or more per catch.

That said, you only have to go back to Saturday to know that statistics compiled against helpless opponents are not easily duplicated when the competition is better. For example, Northern Illinois rushed for 123 yards, 202 yards shy of its average.

Four games deep in the season, I can’t remember having less feel for both Arkansas and its opponent in a big game.

The preseason 5-7 prediction for Arkansas included an L in Lubbock and a W in Arlington. Based on two weeks of results, I went with Arkansas the week of the Tech game. This week, another 180 — Texas A&M 34, Arkansas 28 while acknowledging that either team by two touchdowns is in play.

Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. Email: