LITTLE ROCK — Flip-flopping on the outcome of Arkansas vs. Texas Tech, causation is the number 277 and the name Aaron Jones.

LITTLE ROCK — Flip-flopping on the outcome of Arkansas vs. Texas Tech, causation is the number 277 and the name Aaron Jones.


Published in late May, an itemized prediction column included some words and stats about Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb and this: "Although Arkansas’ secondary is supposed to be more aggressive, I’m not convinced the group can withstand 40-plus passes by Webb. Controlling the ball would help Arkansas’ cause …"


The follow-up conclusion was Tech 37, Arkansas 35.


When it came time to provide a prediction for this week’s issue of Hawgs Illustrated, I wound up with Arkansas 35, Tech 31, an about face based on late-breaking news.


After midnight Saturday, Tech completed a 30-26 victory over UTEP by putting together a seven-play, 75-yard drive in the final minutes.


Interpreting stats from the game, the Red Raiders could not stop the run and, therefore, UTEP held the ball 39 minutes, limiting the opportunities for Tech’s mile-a-minute offense.


UTEP rushed for 277 yards, including Jones’ 147 on 23 carries. As a freshman, Jones averaged 8.5 yards per try on limited carries and ran for more than 100 yards vs. New Mexico, Louisiana Tech, and Rice. But, in his only outing against an SEC team, Jones netted only 62 yards on 22 attempts vs. Texas A&M, which was the worst in the league against the run.


Without knowing a thing about UTEP’s offensive line and unable to get a better read on Jones, I’ll take the Razorbacks’ O-line and the trio of Alex Collins, Jonathan Williams, and Korliss Marshall.


Those advantages should enable Arkansas to keep the ball much of the game, reducing the times Webb can test the Razorbacks’ secondary. Auburn quarterbacks Jeremy Johnson and Nick Marshall were 16-of-22 for 293 yards against Arkansas, but the Tigers’ versatility put defenders in a bind. Judging the secondary vs. Nicholls State is a waste of time so the jury is still out on the group.


Once thought by bombastic Monday Night Football announcer Howard Cosell and others to be the most definitive statistic in the game, time of possession means little with Tech’s offense.


Against UCA, the Red Raiders ran an incredible 89 plays, 53 of them passes, in a little more than 26 minutes. Fourteen times, the clock stopped on incompletions.


Last week, the team that snapped the ball a nation-leading average of 90 times per game in 2013, ran 59 plays in 21 minutes. Employing a more traditional offense, Arkansas possessed the ball 27:17 against Auburn and ran only 60 plays.


Arkansas will win time of possession in Lubbock and the running backs will be productive. Quarterback Brandon Allen can help play keep-away by completing 15-of-22 as he did during the first three quarters at Auburn. Looking at the size advantage of Arkansas’ offensive linemen vs. Tech’s up-front players, you would think the Raiders would wear down.


But, there is more to beating the Raiders than holding the ball 36 or 37 minutes. Coach Bret Bielema said monopolizing the ball would be a plus, but that what Arkansas does on offense doesn’t matter when Tech’s offense is on the field. "It’s how … we are able to defend them," he said.


Agreed, to a point. But, defending Tech does not mean shutting down the Raiders; it means forcing a few punts or snagging an interception or two or both.


Webb will make some plays and it is of some concern that Bielema said after Auburn ran the ball eight straight times for 85 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown that there are certain Razorbacks whose max is 30-50 snaps per game against quality competition.


True to his profession, coach Kliff Kingsbury cited his team’s 2-0 start as a positive despite playing poorly at times. "It’s got to go up from here," he said.


Not necessarily.


On Saturday, the Raiders’ opponent will have equal or better talent for the first time.


Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. Email: hleonk42@gmail.com.