The SEC schedule begins with an outstanding match up this Saturday afternoon (3:30pm ET) as the top-ranked and defending BCS National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide (2-0) travel to Donald W. Reynolds Stadium in Fayetteville, AR to take on the 21st ranked Arkansas Razorbacks (1-1). Alabama is 1-1 ATS this season, failing to cover a 38-point spread last week in a 35-0 win over Western Kentucky at home, and blowing out Michigan in their opener in Dallas 41-14 to handily cover a 13 point line. The Razorbacks are 0-1 ATS this season, losing to the University of Louisiana Monroe 34-21 on the road last week as a 30 point favorite, they beat Jackson St. 49.24 at home in their opener.
The Crimson Tide feature a dominant offensive line and a stifling defense, two stalwarts of Nick Saban-led teams. The Tide’s running game has not been as dominant as it was last season with the loss of Trent Richardson, but they still have averaged 38 points per game (3oth among FBS teams) with one high quality opponent so far. The defense does not appear as dominant as the across the board number one ranked unit from last season, but they still rank 5th in scoring defense with 7 PPG allowed, and 14th in total defense with 246.5 YPG allowed.
Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson (563 yards passing, 5 TDs) is expected to miss the game with a concussion and will likely be replaced by either freshman Brandon Allen or junior Brandon Mitchell, who normally plays wide receiver. Allen was 6-for-20 in relief of an injured Wilson last week for 85 yards with one TD and one INT. The Razorback defense ranks a woeful 112th in the nation in pass defense with 319.5 YPG allowed after allowing 412 yards passing and 550 total yards last week to UL Monroe.
Alabama vs. Arkansas Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Alabama Crimson Tide -20.5
@ Arkansas Razorbacks +20.5
Over 54 (-110)
Under 54 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Alabama vs. Arkansas Pick:
Alabama is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 road games, 7-2 ATS in their last 9 SEC games and 11-5 ATS in their last 16 games overall. Arkansas is 20-6 ATS in their last 26 home games, 14-5 ATS in their last 19 SEC games and 17-8 ATS in their last 25 games overall. The under is 4-1 in Alabama’s last 5 SEC games. The over is 5-0 in Arkansas’ last 5 Sec games, 6-1 in their last 7 games overall and 14-5 in their last 19 September games. Alabama has won 6 of the last 7 meetings between the two teams outright, including last season when they won 38-14 in Tuscaloosa to cover the 11 point spread with ease.
Arkansas appears to have some problems in their secondary to say the least, after allowing a Sun Belt Conference team that went 4-8 last season to throw for over 400 yards and losing cornerback Tevin Mitchell to injury for this week’s game. Tide QB AJ McCarron (418 yards passing, 6 TDs) who has not thrown an interception in 5 straight games and is coming off a career-high 4 TD passes last week, should be able to take advantage of the short-handed secondary and have a big day. Alabama should almost certainly win this game, but the line is too high to play. With Arkansas short-handed on both sides of the ball, they are going to have trouble scoring against a Tide defense that they were only able to muster 185 yards passing and 14 points against last season with their All-SEC quarterback Wilson in the lineup. This should be a one-sided game and the total should come in well under 53.5, take the under in this game.
PICK = Under 54