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Arkansas vs. Alabama SEC Football Pick with Analysis

9/24/11

Arkansas hits the road to take on Alabama this week in a huge SEC West showdown. Alabama, #3 in the land opened as a -12.5 point favorite over #15 Arkansas with the early money coming in on the Arkansas side. Currently, there are a mix of -11's, -11.5's and 12's on the board.

Arkansas was 10-3 a year ago, losing a memorable game to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, 31-26. They faced Alabama, at home last year with Alabama ranked #1 in the Nation and led the game 20-7 at the half before Bama fought back to win a 24-20 decision. Gone from that Arkansas team are star QB Ryan Mallett, now in the NFL and star running back Knile Davis out for the year with an ankle injury.

Arkansas is 3-0, beating up on Missouri State 51-7, New Mexico 52-3 and Troy 38-28, a game they led 24-0 at the half. So, what does that 3-0 start tells us about Arkansas? Absolutely nothing. It's a nice 3 game practice set, a chance to get everybody comfortable with what they are doing, but nothing more. Those results were expected.

They do however, have some pieces of last years team intact, bringing back 7 on the defensive side of the ball and 5 on offense and have even been pegged by some as a dark horse National Title contender. Some questions will no doubt begin to be answered on Saturday afternoon.

We know Alabama is loaded. They too, are 3-0 but only 2 of those were "practice" games as they took out Kent State and North Texas but sandwiched in between those games was a trip to Happy Valley to take on Penn State before 107,000 people, a test Alabama passed to the tune of a 27-11 win over the Nittany Lions.

So, Alabama is the more battle tested of the two in 2011, they are playing at home, and they sure as heck remember falling behind 20-7 a year ago to this Arkansas team. Despite all of that, there still may be room to back Arkansas this Saturday. Even last year, Bama showed some weakness. They lost 3 games, to South Carolina, LSU and Auburn, and played close games against Arkansas and even Ole Miss, who they only beat by a score of 23-10.

Last week against North Texas the offense was far from perfect. They had to settle for field goals on 4 out of 5 drives in the first half and even missed two field goal attempts. They can't afford not to convert in the red zone against a team like Arkansas that could potentially be an offensive powerhouse (we don't know yet, but with Bobby Petrino, odds are, they will be)

This has game has the potential to be a good one. We think there's enough talent left at Arkansas to make a game of this one. The number is big enough here that even if the game starts to sway heavily in favor of the Tide, the back door will always be open. Arkansas +11.5

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