The Razorbacks statistically rank very well this season averaging 47.0 points per game (8th overall) and only allowing 12.7 points per game (17th overall), but against very limited competition. The Hogs had no problem against Missouri State and New Mexico, but had trouble putting away Troy last weekend. Troy also gave Clemson a challenge this season until the Tigers pulled away in the second half of that game.
Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson has looked out of sorts at times, but he still has the natural ability and an arsenal of playmakers to carry him. Wilson reportedly had concussion like symptoms earlier this season. He has 822 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions this year, but he threw a pick-six versus Troy including some bobbled snaps. Joe Adams has been one of the most explosive playmakers for the Razorbacks along with Cobi Hamilton and a stable of others. They have had up to 11 different players catch a pass in one game. The running game started slow as expected with the departure of Knile Davis due to injury, but has progressed well since the season began with Ronnie Wingo Jr. tallying 109 rushing yards and three total touchdowns against Troy. The defense started the season strong, but was also lacking last Saturday and they need to force more turnovers. The turnover margin will need to be in their favor against Alabama. It would definitely help the Hog’s defense if defensive end Jake Bequette makes it back from his hamstring injury.
Alabama has started the season very well as expected. Their toughest game so far was a road trip to Happy Valley to play Penn State which ended in a 27-11 victory. The Tide’s defense has been exceptional this season allowing only 6.0 points per game (2nd overall) and the Razorbacks will have to find a way to crack their rock solid defense to have a chance. They are loaded with talent on defense including players like Dre Kirkpatrick and Courtney Upshaw that are already on Mel Kiper’s Big Board.
The Crimson Tide had shaky quarterback play early this season, but AJ McCarron has seemed to settle in recently with zero interceptions in his last two games after throwing two in the first game versus Kent State. He needs to continue stable play in their SEC opener for the Tide to be successful. Senior wide receiver Marquis Maze is a nice consistent target for McCarron with 186 receiving yards this season. Alabama does have an excellent running game to support their quarterback. Trent Richardson has 315 yards with eight touchdowns behind an experienced offensive line that averages approximately 307 lbs. per starter. Eddie Lacy is also racking up rushing yards with 304 so far on an astounding 10.9 yards per carry. The Arkansas defense will have to contain the running game if they want to beat Alabama.
The USA Today Coaches Poll has Arkansas ranked at 12 and Alabama much higher at second while also receiving 4 first place votes. If the Razorbacks want to make it to Hog Heaven, first they have to perform a bettor’s miracle this weekend since Alabama is currently a 12 point favorite on Bodog. Being the rabid Razorback fan that I am, I believe they can still do it. It will come down to the ability of Arkansas’playmakers to penetrate the Alabama defense as well as the play of both the offensive and defensive lines; the turnover margin will also be a key to the game. In college football, we all know anything can happen and last season the Hogs only lost 24 to 20. Having lost five out of the last six games including four in a row to Alabama, Razorback football and fans should no longer accept being a door mat to Alabama. The Hogs will have to make it through the Tide if they want to make it to the promise land.
Below are highlights from games played by Arkansas and Alabama this season plus last year's matchup between the Razorbacks and Crimson Tide: