Game Day Preview: What you need to know about Alabama-Arkansas
Arkansas is a year removed from a near-upset of Alabama. It has a senior quarterback and dependable pass-catcher that will lead the unranked Razorbacks against the highly-rated Crimson Tide.
Sound familiar? Those were the exact circumstances when Arkansas pulled off a shocking upset 20 years ago. Alabama fans hope history does not repeat itself Saturday.
Here’s what you need to know about the game:
No. 8 Alabama Crimson Tide (4-1, 1-1 SEC) vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (2-3, 1-1 SEC)
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 10, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Weather: 70 degrees, partly cloudy, zero percent chance of rain (Weather.com)
Line: Alabama -16
By the numbers
268 – Receiving yards for Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry. That number is sixth-best in the country, and by far the best in the SEC. Alabama’s O.J. Howard comes in second with 183.
10 – Games in a row ‘Bama running back Derrick Henry has scored at least one touchdown. His season numbers: 93 rushes, 570 yards and nine touchdowns.
4 – The number of freshmen that started for Alabama in last week’s win over UGA. Nick Saban is leaning on first-year players like never before.
Storylines to watch
Can Alabama establish the run again?
Against UGA, fans finally got what they were waiting for: smash-mouth football. Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin called a run-heavy game that resulted in 47 rushes for 189 yards and a pair of touchdowns. That helped get quarterback Jake Coker going – the senior hit 11-of-16 passes for 190 yards and a beautiful 45-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Ridley.
Will Hunter Henry find holes in the Alabama secondary?
The Razorbacks offense features running back Alex Collins, but he will have a tough time breaking through Alabama’s vaunted defensive line. If Arkansas wants to get going offensively, it will need to attack through the air. Henry, whom Saban called the “perfect” tight end this week, will get a chance to pick on the Crimson Tide’s suspect secondary.
Can Alabama’s freshmen keep it up?
As stated above, the Crimson Tide currently start four freshmen. But Alabama leans on several more during the course of the game. Wideout Calvin Ridley and offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher have been big for the offense, while defensive backs Marlon Humphrey, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ronnie Harrison have provided steady coverage behind defensive lineman Daron Payne.
Prediction: Alabama 24, Arkansas 20
This one has the makings of a letdown for the Crimson Tide. Alabama has so much to lose — and is coming off its best performance of the year — while Arkansas will throw caution to the wind Saturday night.
The Razorbacks have enough offensive firepower to at least stay even with the Tide for much of the contest, and will give a good scare to the folks at Bryant-Denny.