FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — A few minutes after Arkansas’ 52-10 rout of poor Alcorn State, Hogs coach Bret Bielema spoke to his team in its War Memorial Stadium locker room.
“There’s gonna be 11 players for them and there’s gonna be 11 players for us, and whoever plays better is the one that usually wins,” Bielema told his team, referring to the next opponent on its schedule.
No. 16 Arkansas hosts No. 1 Alabama — the undisputed king of college football for the last several years — at 6 p.m. Saturday inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The Razorbacks (4-1, 0-1 SEC) haven’t beaten Alabama in 10 years.
Arkansas lost its SEC opener Sept. 24 to Texas A&M, putting its chances of challenging for the SEC West in serious jeopardy. But there would be no way better to get back in that hunt than by knocking off the mighty Crimson Tide, which has won four of the last seven national championships.
Players and coaches often like to say some variation of “every game is the same to us” when they’re about to face an opponent like Alabama, but Hogs quarterback Austin Allen did no such thing when given the opportunity following the Alcorn State game.
“You can say that all you want, but it’s not true,” Allen said. “It’s Alabama. They’re the big time in the SEC. The way they play under Coach Saban . . . we’ve got to step it up preparation wise and really have a chip on our shoulder to come out Saturday and play well.”
The Arkansas-Alabama game will be the first inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium since Oct. 8, 2011 — when No. 10 Arkansas beat No. 15 Auburn — featuring two teams ranked in the Associated Press poll.
ESPN’s College GameDay had considered hosting from Fayetteville this weekend before ultimately choosing the Tennessee-Texas A&M game — a battle of unbeatens — in College Station, Texas. GameDay hasn’t broadcast out of Fayetteville in 10 years.
Despite the disappointment of losing out on GameDay, Arkansas still expects an electric atmosphere Saturday. It’s also a big recruiting weekend for the Hogs, who are hosting at least six official visitors.
“I think we’ll have a live crowd show up that’ll be ready to rock ‘n roll,” Bielema said. “I’m sure they’ll be some healthy tailgating before that should get that crowd pretty riled up, and I need you in every way possible.”