Arkansas Razorbacks At Alabama In SEC Showdown
Alabama is just 27-46 ATS vs. SEC opponents since 1992.
There were more than 101,000 fans at Bryant-Denny Stadium this past week to watch the Alabama Crimson Tide take on North Texas. A few in attendance showed up to watch Cody Mandell, Alabama's sophomore punter.
His lone boot traveled 35 yards before skipping out of bounds at the Mean Green 4-yard line.
A larger crowd is expected this Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa where red, or a slight variation of it, will be a very popular color when the Razorbacks from Arkansas come a callin' on 'Bama. Most will be rooting for Mandell to again only be called on once.
Alabama opened as a two touchdown favorite to beat the Hogs. That's just a little higher than the 9.4 gap between the Crimson Tide and Razorbacks in the Don Best Linemakers Poll. 'Bama has been No. 1 for three weeks running while Arkansas is 12th according to Kenny White.
Coincidentally – or perhaps not – the college football spread was quickly bet down to 11½ and even an 11 here and there. Saturday's total is up a point from opening to 50½.
It's the first of two very big road dates for Arkansas. The next is the day after Thanksgiving in Baton Rouge. It's a bit of a shame the Razorbacks have both of those contests on the road; having just one of them at home could really throw a wrinkle into the Southeastern Conference, and thus, the BCS.
The Hogs know they will have to beat either the Tide or the Tigers on the road to have even a small chance of playing in the SEC Championship.
Arkansas (3-0 straight up, 2-1 against the spread) started just outside the top 10 in most polls simply because the Razorbacks do have the Crimson Tide and Tigers on the road in SEC play. Bobby Petrino's team could easily wind up being third-best in the SEC West Division and yet a top-10 finalist in the nation.
Petrino's lads strolled to wins over Missouri State and New Mexico to begin the season, then were possibly caught looking ahead to this game in last week's 38-28 triumph over Troy. Arkansas shot to a 24-0 lead before getting a little sloppy and letting the Trojans make the score closer than it should've been.
Arkansas failed to cover the 23-point line, but Troy's 21-point second half did delight those who bet 'over' 62.
Petrino was particularly peeved with his quarterback, junior Tyler Wilson. If Wilson isn't spot on this week, Petrino won't hesitate to send in soph Brandon Mitchell. Whoever is under center, they could be without the services of wideout Jarius Wright who is questionable with a knee injury. Wright leads the team with three touchdown receptions.
Whoever is at QB will also have to deal with an incredibly tough Alabama defense. The Crimson Tide (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS) have surrendered just 170 yards per game, third fewest in the nation, and just 18 points over the first three contests. The unit pitched a shutout last week against North Texas, and shined in the Tide's 27-11 triumph on the road at Penn State two weeks ago.
A strong running game to date – 242 YPG, 14th in the country – has relieved some of the pressure on sophomore QB AJ McCarron. He's been efficient, though unspectacular, the past two games after having a few hiccups in the season opener. Head coach Nick Saban is no doubt cool with the efficient/unspectacular showing for McCarron, and Alabama should give the Hogs a steady dose of Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy on the ground.
Alabama rallied for a 24-20 road win last season, the fourth-straight victory in this series for the Tide who were favored by seven. Arkansas' last win here in Tuscaloosa was a 34-31, double-overtime thriller in 2003.
CBS will broadcast this one starting at 3:30 p.m. (ET). The Razorbacks will head to Cowboys Stadium next week for a date with Texas A&M; 'Bama will be in Gainesville to meet the Florida Gators