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Arkansas At Alabama - Tide Favored Over Hogs
This Alabama Arkansas game is one of the most intriguing games of the weekend. It has the SECís #1 offense vs. the SECís #1 defense. Itís arguably the best defensive mind in college football against arguably the best offensive mind in college football. Arkansas is putting up an impressive 538 yards per game, and Alabama is allowing an equally impressive 185 yards a game.
The Crimson Tide started the season off with a very impressive 34-24 win over Virginia Tech then followed that up with two wins over overmatched Florida International and North Texas. Alabama played with a lot of energy last week in their 53-7 route of North Texas. They looked solid on both sides of the ball, and Coach Nick Saban is hoping it will carry over to this Saturday when Arkansas comes to Tuscaloosa.
Arkansas lost a heartbreaker to Georgia last week where at one point they were ahead 21-10 and the ball at midfield after an interception. Arkansas defensive leader Jerry Franklin was then thrown out of the game for two personal foul flags and it all went downhill from there. Although Arkansas lost that game to Georgia they showed that they are a much better team than last year when they went 5-7, and have one of the best offenses in college football.
ARKANSAS KEY TO VICTORY
In Arkansasí game against Georgia their defense was exposed badly especially the secondary. The secondary made Joe Cox look like Joe Montana. If Arkansas is going to have any chance for the upset they will have to improve on the defensive side of the ball, but in my opinion the #1 key for Arkansas to win this game is for Arkansas QB Ryan Mallet to be as effective as he was last week throwing the ball all over, and if Arkansas can get the running game going too. If there is one weakness in this Alabama defense it is their secondary, and this defense has yet to play an offense as good as the Hogs. Ryan Mallet threw for over 400 yards last week and 5 TDs. Arkansas also has 3 very good sophomore wide receivers in Joe Adams, Jarious Wright, and Greg Childs. Throw in arguably the best pass catching tight end in the SEC in D.J. Williams and you have an offense that can put up some points. Arkansas also has a valuable weapon at running back in Michael Smith. He was there work horse last year, but this year Arkansas has had a hard time getting the running game going. The best way to keep a defense honest in the secondary is to have a good running game to set up play action passes. If Arkansas can be a much more balanced offense this Saturday they will be in it till the very end.
ALABAMAíS KEY TO VICTORY
Alabama is a smash mouth team offensively and defensively and thatís just the way Coach Nick Saban likes it. Alabama needs to continue to do what it does best, and that is run the football, control the clock, and use the running game to set up the play action pass. That all starts up front with the offensive line and running backs. Alabama has one of the best one two punches in the SEC at RB with Sophomore Mark Ingram and True Freshman Trent Richardson. Alabama is #2 in the SEC in rush offense behind only Florida. I donít expect Nick Saban to change anything. Alabama needs to continue to pound the ball. If the running game is successful then that will allow star WR Julio Jones to get better match ups and abuse this weak Arkansas secondary. If they are successful doing that Arkansas will have fewer possessions to score and the less time Ryan Mallet and the Arkansas offense is on the field the better chance Alabama will have to get the win.
THE FINAL VERDICT
Certainly this series has seen closer days than last years Bama blowout. But then, last years result was to be expected. Arkansas lost what was arguably one of the best backfields in college football history in Mcfadden and Jones. They went from a running team to a passing team under new coach Bobby Petrino and those changes simply don't happen over night. They aren't there yet and certainly have a ways to go yet, but there's already evidence that things are starting to click. A quick look at the scoreboard so far this year and you may think you're looking at one of Petrino's Louisville squads, which were among the most prolific offensive teams in college football. Anytime a team can score points like that, it makes them a very dangerous underdog. Bama is the better team and gets the win here, but not so sure about the cover. Arkansas +17.5
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