Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.
Line: Alabama by 28
Radio: 95.5 FM
1. Stop the run: It’s been a while since Alabama faced a power running team. Arkansas is led by two running backs, true freshman Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams. The duo has had success running against every defense they’ve faced and both rank in the top six in the SEC in rushing. Collins is second in the league with 720 yards and gains 5.9 yards a carry, while Williams averages 6.5 yards a carry with 564 yards on the season. The Razorbacks are a one-dimensional team and if the Tide can slow the running game, it will be a long night for the Hogs.
2. Block out the noise: Everything surrounding this game has been about how Alabama plans to get motivated to face Arkansas. Alabama has shown it will play down to its competition occasionally, but the Tide can’t do that against a conference opponent. The Razorbacks have struggled this season, but they should still be respected by the Tide. Tide coach Nick Saban has spent the past few days saying publicly players and people in the organization shouldn’t overlook the Hogs because he knows every SEC foe can be dangerous.
3. Force turnovers/protect the ball: Alabama’s defense didn’t force any turnovers against Kentucky, while its offense coughed it up twice. This is a perfect opportunity for the defense to cause a few fumbles. Arkansas’ running backs will get a lot of touches, which will give the Tide chances to punch out the ball. For the Tide offense, ball security was emphasized a lot during practice this week. Running backs T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake have to protect the ball better going forward.
4. Welcome back: The Tide gets back one of its primary pieces today when safety HaHa Clinton-Dix returns from a two-game suspension for a violation of team rules. He is a good one to get back.
Alabama’s defensive line vs. Arkansas’ offensive line: Will Alabama’s defensive line be able to get push up front? Alabama’s linebackers are playmakers, but they need space to operate. If the defensive line can get push, the linebackers will have a good chance at stopping Arkansas’ running backs. If not, the Hogs may break a few big runs.
Alabama should be able to win this one fairly easy. Arkansas may keep it interesting early, but the Razorbacks’ biggest problem is they don’t make enough plays in the passing game. Being one dimensional against the Crimson Tide won’t get the job done. ... Alabama 34, Arkansas 10.