Arkansas Razorbacks (2-3 SU, 1-3 ATS) vs. No. 8 Alabama Crimson Tide (4-1 SU, 2-3 ATS)
College Football Week 6
Date/Time: Saturday October 10th, 7:00PM EST
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadum Tuscaloosa, A.L.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ARK +16.5/ALA -16.5
Over/Under Total: 49
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The Alabama Crimson Tide proved last week that they are not going to go down quietly whether it is in regards to the SEC Championship or playoffs discussion. With 1 loss already suffered at the hands of Ole Miss, the Crimson Tide found their selves in a dangerous matchup on the road in Athens last week against the no. 8 Bulldogs. Instead of potentially exiting the SEC Championship and college football playoffs discussion, the Crimson Tide blasted Georgia in a 38-10 blowout to put their selves right back into the thick of both talks. This week the Crimson Tide look to keep those hopes alive as they host the Arkansas Razorbacks inside Bryant-Denny Stadium.
After 3 straight losses, Arkansas rebounded last week with a 24-20 victory over Tennessee. The victory moved the Razorbacks to 1-1 in the SEC despite a 2-3 SU record. On paper, it does not appear that the Razorbacks are doing that bad. Offensively, they have produced 476 yards per game (24th in FBS) and they have posted decent defensive numbers as well. The problem is that they have come up short in most of their close games this season.
The Razorbacks failed to convert 4th down conversions and gave the ball away in the 16-12 loss to Tulsa and allowed Texas A&M to come from behind in the 4th quarter that resulted in a 28-21 loss in overtime. I guess the good news is that they have competed well but they have to find a way to win these close games if this team is going to continue to improve under Coach Bret Bielema. Bielema and the Razorbacks reached 7 wins that included a bowl victory over Texas last year in his 2nd season in Fayetteville. If that win total is going to be matched or surpassed this season, they are going to have to pick up the pace in a big way.
This week Arkansass ability to contend with Alabama will rely heavily on how well they can move the football and play defense. Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen has been performing at a high level completing 66% passing for 1,360 yards with 8 touchdowns and 3 picks. However, the Razorbacks are still a run first offense with tailback Alex Collins. Collins has racked up 656 yards and 6 touchdowns through the first 5 games of the season and typically sets the tone for the offense. It will be interesting to see if Arkansass rushing offense can continue to find ways to move the ball effectively against the nations 10th best rush defense in Alabama.
Not only does Alabama have a really tough defense but they proved last week that they are still a force offensively. The Crimson Tide pounded the ball behind running back Derrick Henry and then opened up the playbook with quarterback Jake Coker. Both strategies were effective as the Georgia defense had very few answers for Alabamas balance. We already knew heading into the game that Alabama has one of the best backfields in the SEC with Henry and Kenyan Drake.
However, the bigger story that came out of the Georgia contest was the continued improvement of Coker behind center. Coker managed the game the way Nick Saban quarterbacks are supposed to do and was effective when needed hitting 11 of 16 passing for 190 yards and a touchdown. If Alabama can continue to get that type of play out of Coker going forward, they are going to have all the chances to run the table following an early loss to Ole Miss just like they did last year.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Alabama is just 6-14-1 ATS in their last 21 games and just 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games at home. I think this line is a little exaggerated due to the Georgia outcome. Last year this was a 1 point ballgame and I think Arkansas can keep this game close again this year with their ability to move the football on the ground and through the air. Take Arkansas +16.5
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