No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (5-0 SU, 3-2 ATS) vs. No. 16 Arkansas Razorbacks (4-1 SU, 2-3 ATS)
College Football Week 6
Date/Time: Saturday, October 8th, 7:00PM (EST)
Where: Razorback Stadium Fayetteville, A.R.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ALA -14/ARK +14
Over/Under Total: TBA
One of the marquee games in the SEC on Saturday will take place in Fayetteville when the no. 20 Arkansas Razorbacks attempt to knock off the top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide inside Razorback Stadium. Arkansas faltered in their first SEC contest two weeks ago that resulted in the Razorbacks only loss this season at the hands of no. 10 Texas A&M. However, they will get a chance for redemption in a big way this Saturday as they seek program signature win over Alabama. If Arkansas is able to deliver the upset, it would snap a 9 year losing drought at the hands of the Crimson Tide.
Even though the Crimson Tide is the consensus number 1 team in the country and they have only truly been challenge by one team this year (Ole Miss), Alabama is about to embark on a 3 game stretch that is going to be tough even for Nick Sabans group. The Crimson Tide starts on the road this week against no. 16 Arkansas, then follows that up with a trip to Knoxville to take on no. 9 Tennessee, then back home against no. 8 Texas A&M. Therefore Alabama is going to have their hands full over these next few weeks.
Alabama actually had their hands full last week against Kentucky at least for the majority of the first half. However, running back Joshua Jacobs got going and the defense scored a touchdown which put things into motion. It has become kind of a trend in some facets that the Alabama defense has ignited the offense. It was a fumble return for a touchdown that got the Crimson Tide back into the game against Ole Miss, it was an interception return for a touchdown that started the blowout against no. 20 USC, and it was another defensive touchdown that got the offense rolling against last week after a sluggish start against Kentucky.
I had my concerns about Alabamas offense this season and I thought that might cause some early season struggles. While the offense has had some struggles, the defense has played absolutely outstanding and that is scary considering the offense should only get better as the year progresses. This week Alabamas defense will have the task of trying to stop an Arkansas offense that is producing nearly 200 yards per game on the ground. Running back Rawleigh Williams has been a work horse for this team with 101 carries already through the first 5 games. Williams has produced 559 yards on the ground and 4 touchdowns as a result of those carries but it will be interesting to see if he gets the same type of workload against Alabama who ranks #1 in the FBS allowing just 2.43 yards per rush.
While I am sure Williams will get his touches, Arkansas will likely have to turn to the arm of Austin Allen to move the football. Allen has been surprisingly strong this year completing 67% of his passes for 1,232 yards with 12 touchdowns and just 2 picks on the season. I believe Chad Kelly shed some light on the best way to attack Alabamas defense and I am more interested to see if Bret Bielema will dial up a game plan that will allow Allen to attack the field vertically.
Bielema typically keeps the football on the ground which may not be the best approach this week. However, Arkansass defense is good enough to keep them in the game if they can limit the big plays despite what the game plan may be on offense. Quarterback Jalen Hurts has a ton of talent but he does go through stretches of inconsistency. With running back Damien Harris still nursing an ankle injury, it will be interesting to see if either he or Joshua Jacobs can come up with some big plays in the run game to spark the offense. Last week, Jacobs was the guy that stepped up to rush for 100 yards on just 16 carries and this offense needs someone to step up on a more consistent basis especially over these next few weeks against teams that will be capable of delivering the upset.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: While many expect Arkansas to be challenge to worry about the least over the next 3 games, I actually think they could be the biggest. This Razorbacks team is gritty and they will put up a really tough fight. This has been a close game in each of the last 2 years and it will be again on Saturday. Take Arkansas +14
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