Alabama vs. Arkansas Game Preview: Everything You Need To Know Before Kickoff
No. 8 Alabama (4-1, 1-1 SEC) vs. Arkansas (2-3, 1-1 SEC)
When: Saturday, Oct. 10 at 6 p.m. CT
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Weather: A mix of sunshine and clouds with a high of 76 degrees, winds NNW at 10-15 mph and 20 percent chance of rain.
TV: ESPN (Play-by-play: Brad Nessler, color analyst: Todd Blackledge, sideline reporter: Holly Rowe)
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (Play-by-play: Eli Gold, color analyst: Phil Savage, sideline reporter: Chris Stewart).
Spread: Alabama (-16-16½), according to DannySheridan.com. After one week as a marginal underdog against Georgia, the Crimson Tide is back again as a favorite against Arkansas. Prior to its road game against the Bulldogs, the Crimson Tide was favorites in 73 consecutive games, or the 2009 SEC Championship Game.
Series History: Alabama leads the all-time series, 18-7, on the field (15-8 when including forfeited and vacated games). The Crimson Tide has won the last eight in the series, dating back to 2007.
Last Meeting: Alabama narrowly escaped with a win in Fayetteville, outlasting Arkansas, 14-13, in an uncharacteristically sloppy game from the Crimson Tide. Blake Sims found DeAndrew White for a 6-yard touchdown with 12:36 left in the fourth quarter to win it. Jonathan Allen’s blocked extra point after Arkansas’ first touchdown also proved pivotal in the final result.
The Crimson Tide didn’t hold complete control over the game for all four quarters, but it never allowed the Bulldogs to gain the upper hand, either. Adam Griffith nailed a 29-yard field goal late in the first quarter to take a 3-0 lead, but Georgia quickly responded with its own field goal not long after at the start of the second quarter.
At that point, Alabama took it to the next level.
Thirty-five unanswered points – including 21 in the second quarter alone – gave the Crimson Tide a comfortable lead that it had no issue maintaining. Among those points, two came directly from either defense or special teams.
The Crimson Tide had famously beaten Georgia, 41-30, in the “Blackout” game in its most recent meeting at the school in 2008.
Statistically, Alabama outgained Georgia, 379-299, while owning 34 minutes of possession. Jake Coker, who has been the subject of some criticism at quarterback this season, also had his best performance to date, completing 11-of-16 passes for 190 yards and a score.
Arkansas ended a three-game losing streak, beating Tennessee on the road in Knoxville, 24-20.
Star running back Alex Collins rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner from one yard out with 9:12 left in the third quarter.
Ranked No. 18 in the preseason polls, Arkansas rallied from an early 14-0 first-quarter deficit in the win. Before Saturday, the Razorbacks had lost 10 straight in games decided by seven points or less.
Arkansas kicker Cole Hedlund’s 26-yard field goal with no time left on the clock tied the game, 17-17, going into halftime.
Senior quarterback Brandon Allen went 11 for 24 passing for 219 yards and one touchdown.
In the three weeks before its win over the Volunteers, Arkansas had lost consecutive games against Toledo, Texas Tech and Texas A&M. It beat UTEP, 48-13, in its season opener on Sept. 5.
Keep an eye on:
Daron Payne, defensive tackle/nose tackle: Arkansas has the biggest – literally – offensive line (left tackle Denver Kirkland weighs 340 pounds; right tackle Dan Skipper is 6-foot-10) Alabama will face all year, so it should only make sense for the Crimson Tide to employ the true freshman, one of the team’s largest players, against them. Last week at Georgia, the former five-star prospect played extensively against the Bulldogs’ downhill rushing attack, an offensive style the Crimson Tide should see more of against the Razorbacks. Payne, as a result, should see the field plenty again Saturday.
Derrick Henry, running back: While Alabama seemingly put together a collective offensive performance against Georgia last week, Henry still carried much of the load for Alabama offensively. Often criticized this season about a lack of offensive identity, the Crimson Tide ran the ball 47 times (including a career-high 26 times with Henry) against the Bulldogs, compared to just 16 pass attempts. So, if last week was any indication, it should do much of the same again against Arkansas, with Henry as the lead man.
Alex Collins, running back: For the second consecutive week, Alabama will have its hands full against the opposing team’s starting running back. Like Nick Chubb last week, Collins is one of the SEC’s top rushers, ranking eighth in the nation with 656 rushing yards to go along with his six touchdowns. As a run-first offense, the Razorbacks’ success will likely rest on how well Collins plays.
Brooks Ellis, linebacker: The junior linebacker leads the Razorbacks with 34 tackles through five games this season, one year after finishing second on the team in that category. After losing fellow starting linebacker Josh Williams on a season-ending injury last week, Ellis will need to step up to help fill the void (and stop Henry and company).
The Crimson Tide has no major injuries to report this week.
- Starting linebacker Josh Williams broke his leg last week against Tennessee and will miss the rest of the season.