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Alabama running back Damien Harris stiff-arms an Arkansas defender.

2017 Alabama football opponent preview and prediction: Arkansas (Homecoming)

Counting down to Thursday’s start of Alabama football fall camp, SEC Country is previewing the Crimson Tide’s 2017 opponents.

Alabama vs. Arkansas

  • When: Saturday, Oct. 14 (Homecoming)
  • Kickoff time: TBA
  • Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
  • TV: TBA
  • Last meeting: Alabama defeated Arkansas 49-30 on Oct. 8, 2016

Arkansas at a glance

  • Coach: Bret Bielema
  • 2016 record: 7-6, 3-5 SEC

Arkansas players to watch

Austin Allen | QB

Austin Allen enters 2017 after an impressive junior campaign that saw him top the SEC in total passing yards (3,430) and passing yards in conference play (2,291). He also threw 25 touchdown passes (second in the SEC), completed 61.1 percent of his passes (245 of 401) and boasted a 146.0 passer rating. His 3,430 passing yards and 25 TDs also ranked fifth in single-season school history. Of his 25 touchdown passes, 19 came inside the red zone, which led the SEC and tied for 10th in the FBS.

Frank Ragnow | C

Frank Ragnow was named the nation’s best offensive lineman and best run blocker and a first-team All-American by Pro Football Focus (PFF) last year. He helped pave the way for running back Rawleigh Williams III to capture the SEC regular-season rushing title with 1,326 yards and provided time for Austin Allen to throw for an SEC-best 3,430 yards. Williams topped the century mark seven times on the ground, while Allen tallied four 300-plus yard passing games. The Razorbacks manufactured 428.4 yards of total offense per game, highlighted by five games with both 200 yards rushing and passing.

Dre Greenlaw | LB

Dre Greenlaw saw limited action in 2016 due to a foot injury. He started all seven games he played and finished with 42 tackles and one interception. He led Arkansas with 35 tackles through the first five games before sustaining the injury in the first quarter against No. 1 Alabama. He posted team highs in tackles twice over the first four games.

Devwah Whaley | RB

Devwah Whaley, who is slated to be the team’s lead back in 2017, played a key role last season. Backing up SEC regular-season rushing champion Rawleigh Williams III, Whaley rushed for 602 yards and 3 touchdowns on 110 carries and added 6 catches for 139 yards. Whaley flashed explosiveness with runs for 75, 50, 34 and 30 yards and receptions for 43, 26, 26 and 23 yards. He became the fourth Razorback in school history to record two 100-yard rushing games as a freshman.

Our take

These Alabama-Arkansas matchups have produced some physical contests over the years. Arkansas is one of the few teams in the SEC and the country that can match the Crimson Tide’s physicality.

The problem for Arkansas has been its lack of overall talent. The Razorbacks play and compete extremely hard, but they never seem to have enough playmakers to get them over the hump. Even in the 2016 game that ended 49-30, there was never a time where anyone seriously thought Arkansas had a shot to win.

Alabama football hasn’t lost to Arkansas during Nick Saban’s tenure. Don’t expect that streak to end this season.

Prediction

Alabama 31, Arkansas 10

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