What can be said about Alabama that hasn’t already been written?
Nick Saban’s team is the king of college football. Yes, even when the Tide lose the national championship game like they did last season to Clemson.
In Bret Bielema’s time at Arkansas, the Razorbacks have come close to nipping the Crimson Tide just once in four tries. Back in 2014, Arkansas had every chance in the world to pull off the upset. Some poor special teams play, though, foiled that effort. Arkansas hasn’t come close since.
It’ll be tough this season, too, as the game is back at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama will be picked to top the SEC. Arkansas will be picked in the middle. But, hey, stranger things have happened.
Here is a preview and predictions for Arkansas-Alabama in the Hogs’ sixth game of the season:
Alabama Crimson Tide
Coach: Nick Saban, 11th season, 114-19 (five wins vacated in 2007)
Last season: 14-1, 8-0 (won SEC West)
Plays Arkansas: Oct. 14 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa
2016 by the numbers
- Scoring offense: 38.8 points per game (15th out of 128 teams in FBS)
- Passing offense: 210.3 yards per game (87th)
- Rushing offense: 245 yards per game (12th)
- Scoring defense: 13 points per game (first)
- Passing defense: 197.9 yards allowed per game (24th)
- Rushing defense: 63.9 yards allowed per game (first)
May not be the most sexy thing in the world, but Alabama’s offense begins up front. The Crimson Tide have three potential first-team All-SEC guys manning the offensive line. They pave holes for Bo Scarbrough — who is, at worst, a second-team All-SEC player — and Damien Harris, who actually was the one who ran for more than 1,000 yards last season. Oh, and don’t forget sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts. Hurts isn’t a great passer, but his feet can cause all sorts of problems. On the occasions he does throw it, he has the best wideout in the SEC, bar none, to catch the passes. Calvin Ridley is a bona fide star.
The only place Alabama is better than at offensive line typically is defensive line. May not be the case this season, as only one starter is back. Da’Ron Payne is good, awfully good, and Da’Shawn Hand will be plenty fine next to him, but Alabama lacks experienced defensive ends. Linebacker is losing a bit, too, as Rashaan Evans and Shaun Dion Hamilton are back, but little else. Of course, those two are beasts. Safety takes no such hit. Minkah Fitzpatrick is the best in the conference and Ronnie Harrison might be the second best. Bottom line: It’s not the star power of years past, but let’s be real: The Tide’s defense isn’t likely going to perform poorly.
Alabama vs. Arkansas positional edges
- Quarterback — Arkansas
- Running back — Alabama
- Receivers — Alabama
- Offensive line — Alabama
- Defensive line — Alabama
- Linebackers — Alabama
- Secondary — Alabama
- Special teams — Alabama
What SEC Country says about Alabama vs. Arkansas
Eric Bolin: By this point of the season the Arkansas offense will be good enough to score a decent number of points against Alabama (relatively, considering it won’t have the top-ranked defense in the nation again this season … maybe). Not sure how capable the Razorbacks defense will be in stopping the Crimson Tide, though.
Prediction: Alabama 35, Razorbacks 21
Jason Kersey: The Arkansas program is still nowhere close to Alabama. I see little reason to believe the Razorbacks can win.
Prediction: Alabama 35, Razorbacks 21
Trent Shadid: In its “2017 Games of the Year,” the Golden Nugget recently listed Alabama as a 28-point favorite in this one. If I were a gambling man, I’d be willing to bet a substantial amount on Arkansas to cover that line. My point being that the Hogs will keep this one a lot closer than what is clearly expected. But can they pull the upset? I’m not about to go that far.
Prediction: Alabama 27, Razorbacks 17
Projected average final score of Alabama vs. Arkansas
Alabama 32, Arkansas 20
Arkansas’ projected record so far
SEC Country: 3-3