Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Alabama Crimson Tide Pick 10/26/19
Arkansas Razorbacks (2-5 SU, 2-5 ATS) vs. No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (7-0 SU, 3-4 ATS)
Date/Time: Saturday October 26th, 2019. 7:00PM (EST)
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium Tuscaloosa, A.L.
Point Spread:ARK +32 / ALA -32 (BetNow)
Over/Under Total: 55
The Arkansas Razorbacks have lost four games in a row following last week’s embarrassing 51-10 defeat at the hands of no. 11 Auburn in a game that featured one of the worst “fake punt plays” that you will ever witness. Before the loss to Auburn, Arkansas was playing reasonably well according to expectations. The Razorbacks took no. 23 Texas A&M and Kentucky down to the wire in games that could have easily been wins. Then last week, everything just went wrong from the offense to the defense, to special teams in a lopsided loss. The Razorbacks will look to put that disastrous performance behind them this week in an even tougher match-up on the road against top-ranked Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The Crimson Tide overcame a tough challenge from Tennessee in the 1st half last week before pulling away in a 35-13 victory. For bettors, the Crimson Tide failed to cover the spread for the 4th time in the previous 6 games. A few weeks ago, I pointed out a trend involving Alabama under Nick Saban that highlighted their struggles covering enormous point spreads against SEC foes, and that narrative remains intact. This week Alabama enters their meeting with Arkansas as huge 32.5 point favorites marking the Razorbacks’ biggest underdog total since last year’s meeting with Alabama. The Razorbacks have actually covered the previous two meetings against Alabama as 35 point favorites, and they should have an excellent opportunity to do the same this week against an Alabama team missing their starting quarterback.
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Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa out against Arkansas
Alabama lost their biggest asset in the win against Tennessee. Star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa went down with a high ankle sprain. Interestingly, Alabama’s medical staff elected to perform surgery on Tagovailoa, which is extremely rare for a sprained ankle. The “tightrope” surgery is designed to accelerate foot injuries, and that is exactly what Alabama is hoping for with a critical match-up with no. 2 LSU on the horizon. The timetable for Tagovailoa’s return is still unknown though Head Coach Nick Saban stated he might have a chance to play against LSU, slated for November 9th. For this week’s game with Arkansas, Alabama will hand the keys to the offense over to sophomore Mac Jones.
Implications of losing Tagovailoa against Arkansas
Obviously, Alabama should have no trouble moving forward this week against an inferior Arkansas team. The Crimson Tide will likely lean on running back Najee Harris and the defense a bit more than usual. Before Tagovailoa provided explosive results on offense, the majority of Nick Saban’s championship teams in Tuscaloosa were based around defense and a power rushing attack that often dominated. Still, the loss of Tagovailoa is obviously going to hurt despite the inferior match-up.
The Crimson Tide’s star quarterback accounted for 27 passing touchdowns with just two picks while maintaining a lucrative 74 percent completion rate. More importantly, the Crimson Tide’s strength on offense has been exploiting weaknesses and speed match-ups against opposing pass defenses with receivers Jerry Jeudy, DeVonta Smith, and Henry Ruggs III. Now I don’t want to state that Mac Jones is incapable of connecting on deep balls down the field, but I have my skepticism. Jones did not look great in last week’s win over Tennessee, and the playcalling immediately changed when he stepped onto the field which is very telling going forward.
Now admittedly I don’t have a ton of confidence in this Arkansas offense. The quarterback play has been horrendous between Nick Starkel and Ben Hicks. Alabama’s defense remains extremely talented and dangerous. Perhaps the only bright spot has been running back Rakeem Boyd, who has 656 yards ranking 3rd in the SEC among rushers. If Arkansas can gather any success on offense, I believe this will be a tough cover for Alabama. The potential for the Razorbacks giving up another 300-yard performance on the ground combined with four turnovers exist just as we saw last week in the 41 point loss to Auburn. However, I don’t believe the probability is high for that scenario to repeat, especially against a less imposing rushing attack in Alabama. As a result, the value remains with the Razorbacks and taking the points.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Arkansas +32
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