Week 7: Alabama at Arkansas

    Alabama (4-1) at Arkansas (3-2) Oct. 11, 6:00, ESPN Here’s The Deal: 104-0. Alabama won two straight 52-0 blowouts over Arkansas on the way to seven

    October 7, 2014

    Alabama (4-1) at Arkansas (3-2) Oct. 11, 6:00, ESPN

    Here’s The Deal: 104-0. Alabama won two straight 52-0 blowouts over Arkansas on the way to seven straight wins in the series, so consider this a sort of measuring stick for the future of the SEC West. Arkansas is far better in Year Two of the Bret Bielema experience, but it’s not there yet. Alabama is still loaded, but after losing to Ole Miss last week with a shocking sloppy effort, there appear to be holes.

    The Crimson Tide outplayed the Rebels in several ways, but they turned the ball over twice – including a game-sealing interception late – and they came up with a slew of clunky penalties, special teams errors, and poor overall play from a team that normally does just about everything right. This is hardly just another team now, and even though it doesn’t control its own destiny, it still might be in the College Football Playoff by winning out, but now it’s time to go from the craziness of The Grove to a slugfest.

    You know exactly what you’re going to get from the Razorbacks. They’re going to pound away with a gigantic offensive line, the tremendous running backs are going to keep on coming, and the defense is going to have a few moments when it’s able to come up with a tough play. If this works for the Hogs, this is going to get tough, this is going to get nasty, and it’s going to be a grind. It’s going to be a mental and physical battle for the Crimson Tide, and with two weeks off, and after showing it really can play losing to Texas A&M in overtime, Arkansas should be ready to make this fun.

    Why Alabama Might Win: Arkansas fits right into the Alabama wheelhouse. The Crimson Tide will have problems with good passers and dangerous receivers, but the run defense is always going to be a rock. Ole Miss only averaged 2.25 yards per carry, and Florida went comparatively wild with 107 yards and coming close to averaging four yards per carry with a score – no one else has scored on the Tide run D or come within a mile of the 100-yard mark. Put it this way – over Alabama’s last 36 games, Arkansas tied with the second-highest rushing total against the Tide D running for 165 yards last season and lost 52-0. You have to throw to come close to beating Bama, and Arkansas can’t do it.

    Why Arkansas Might Win: It’s going to take something special for the Razorbacks to pull this off, and it’ll start with capitalizing on every mistake. The Hogs have yet to lose the turnover battle this year and is a +2 overall, while Alabama has lost in turnovers in four of the five games and was even with Florida Atlantic. It’ll take a big kick return or a huge special teams play to help the cause, and it starts with a terrific Arkansas return game that has to keep the field tilted on the Tide side of the field. The Hogs showed they can hang around with the quick, flashy teams, and if Alabama wants to get push it with the ground game, that might play right into their hands to slow things down and keep the pace and tempo relatively slow.

    Who To Watch Out For: The Arkansas running game will work from time to time, but again, that’s playing into the Alabama strength. Hog QB Brandon Allen has to pull a Bo Wallace and come up with the game of his life, and that means he has to hit his third down throws and he can’t be afraid to take a few chances. He’s thrown just one pick so far, and that came in the opener against Auburn. No, he’s never going to be a 300-yard bomber, but he hit the 199-yard mark against both NIU and Texas A&M turning into a nice complement for the ground game. Last year he had a disastrous day, completing 7-of-25 passes for 91 yards and two interceptions in the ugly loss. No matter how it happens, if Arkansas wins, it’ll be his redemption.

    What’s Going To Happen: It’s not going to be a third straight 52-0 laugher, but it’s going to be hard for Arkansas to do what it wants to do. The Crimson Tide will be far sharper than they were last week and far more explosive, coming up with one big mid-game scoring spurt the Hogs won’t be able to overcome.

    Prediction: Alabama 41 … Arkansas 20
    Line: Alabama -10 o/u: 54.5
    Must Watch Factor: 5: Last Week Tonight – 1: Bad Judge … 3

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