The SEC schedule is a grueling and unforgiving test of endurance that begins this weekend for the 3rd-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0) when they host the 14th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks (3-0) in Tuscaloosa, AL this Saturday (3:30pm ET). Alabama has rolled to their 3-0 start highlighted by wins over over-matched Kent St. last week by a score of 48-7, and a 27-11 victory in Happy Valley over the Penn St. Nitany Lions. Arkansas has not been tested at all this season, rolling 51-7 over Missouri St. last week, covering the massive 41.5 point line.
The Razorback offense has gotten off to a hot start with quarterback Tyler Wilson under center, Wilson has completed 69.6% of his passes for 822 yards and 5 touchdowns so far this season. The Arkansas offense ranks 8th in the country with an average of 346.7 yards per game passing and has averaged 47 points per game, also 8th best in the nation. Defensively the Razorbacks have been solid against their underwhelming competition, allowing 12.7 PPG (12th in the nation) and 305.7 total YPG (35th in the nation). Alabama, under the direction of defensive guru Nick Saban, features another swarming defense this season. The Tide ranks in the top ten among all FBS teams in every major defensive category, including total yards per game with 170 (3rd), points allowed per game with 6 (2nd)and passing yards per game with 114.7 (5th). Running back Trent Richardson carries to load on offense, though he has yet to break out this season with a huge game but has 315 yards (6.3 YPC avg.) on the ground with 8 TDs this season.
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Arkansas vs. Alabama Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Arkansas Razorbacks +11
@Alabama Crimson Tide -11
Over 50.5 (-110)
Under 50.5 (-110)
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Arkansas vs. Alabama Pick:
The Crimson Tide have won the last four meetings with Arkansas, including last season’s meeting by a score of 24-20 in Fayetteville, failing to cover the 6.5 point line in a game that Arkansas led 20-7 in the second half before Alabama took over. Arkansas is 10-1 ATS in their last 11 SEC games, and 8-1 ATS in their last 9 games on grass. The over is 7-1 in the Razorbacks’ last 8 games on grass. Alabama is 9-3 ATS in their last 12 home games and the under is 5-2-1 in their last 8 games in September.
Arkansas looked sloppy in their win last week over Troy, letting a 31-7 third-quarter lead slip to a ten-point win and were outgained 457-454 in total yardage. Arkansas gave the Tide all it could handle in last season’s meeting, but this game will be in Tuscaloosa where they have not lost to the Razorbacks since 2003. The line of 11.5 points is a little high to give to a quality SEC opponent like Arkansas, even at home. With the under coming in for each of the last two meetings between the teams, and Arkansas starting an unproven quarterback in Tyler Wilson against one of the fastest, and toughest secondary’s in the country, the play to make is the under. Alabama will run the ball relentlessly with Richardson and Eddie Lacy to take the pressure off of their own inexperienced quarterback in A.J. McCarron. The Tide offense is up to the task of controlling the line of scrimmage with a rugged offensive line and controlling the clock with a running game that ranks 14th in the country with an average of 242 YPG on the ground. With a lack of proven playmakers in the passing game, and a conservative game plan for Alabama, the under is the clear play here.