Game Time: Saturday, October 6th, Noon ET/11 a.m. local
Odds: Alabama (-34), -20,000 (Alabama Moneyline, LOL), +7500 (Arkansas Moneyline),
You’re probably wondering right now how an SEC team that’s 1-4 with sizable losses to Colorado State and North Texas is going to fare against another SEC team that’s 5-0 with an average margin of victory of 41 points. Then, you wonder, “well, it is in Fayetteville, so that must make a difference.”
This is all rational to think, but Arkansas is living a Cormac McCarthy novel currently and, unfortunately for them, Anton Chiguhr has a way of finding his next victim.
Arkansas probably put together it’s most competitive game to date in their loss last Saturday to Texas A&M, but it didn’t really matter given that they allowed a touchdown on the opening kickoff and could only muster 55 yards on the ground. That’s obviously going to put you behind the eight ball right away in divisional games.
The fact is, John Chavis’ Razorback defense is doing its level best in attempting to slow down opposing offenses (12th in the FBS on 3rd downs), but it doesn’t really work when his team’s offense can’t seem to function against less-than-stellar competition.
All told, the Arkansas offense is 108th in the FBS in total offense (348.8 yards per game), 102nd in scoring offense (23.8 points per game) and 124th in 3rd down completion percentage (29%). These are all important statistics when evaluating a team’s success rate against Alabama.
Alabama, while not as stout upfront this season, annually churns out defenses where you have to do one of two things very well to stand a chance: 1) create chaos with scrambling QBs and big wide receivers, 2) win the turnover battle by a wide margin.
If you do both, then you have the 2015 Alabama/Ole Miss game. And the Tide still only lost that one by six. Point being, you have to win matchups more than you lose them against Alabama and a little luck has to go a long way.
First year Razorback head coach Chad Morris is most definitely in the midst of a Page One Rewrite currently. With the style of offense that he runs, it would be impossible to expect too much from a group of guys who played under Bret Bielema for the last several seasons. The program philosophies are just too different.
More than anything, the timing of this game is not ideal for Arkansas. They’ve had to face two good defenses over the last two weeks and, now, it seems like they’ve been tenderized for the Tide.
After 5 games, the Alabama offense is averaging 553.2 yards (5th) and 54 points per game (1st) while the defense is allowing 317 yards and 13 points per game. And this isn’t a great Alabama defense either.
However, when you look at the sheer playmaking ability on the offensive side of the ball, does it really even matter how the defense performs. Nick Saban said at the beginning of the season that Alabama will probably have to rely on the offense to win games because he was forecasting what’s been true of the Alabama defense so far: good, not great. The run defense is suspect and the secondary has the capacity to give up big plays.
That offense, though. Holy cow, that offense.
You have five elite pass catchers to work with, a stable of running backs that would start on any other Power 5 team and two (yes, two) more than capable quarterbacks who can drive down the field almost at will.
Arkansas will come out amped on Saturday because they’re hosting Alabama and that’s how it should be. Believing they can beat ‘Bama allows for a better team performance. Still, there’s such a chasm right now between the two, this one might be over by halftime.
Prediction: Alabama 52 Arkansas 14