The defending National Champion and number 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide travel to Fayetteville to take on the number 10 ranked Arkansas Razorbacks this Saturday (3:30 pm EDT) in an SEC matchup which could go a long way towards determining a spot in the BCS title game. Arkansas, and its high-powered offense led by quarterback Ryan Mallett, have high hopes for this season and a win Saturday would be one of the biggest in the program’s history and would likely vault Mallett to the top of the list of Heisman contenders.
Alabama comes into the game with a healthy Mark Ingram, last season’s Heisman winner at running back to team with steamrolling running back Trent Richardson, quarterback Greg McElroy and receiver Julio Jones to form one of the most potent offenses in the country. Arkansas is not lacking for offensive fire power either with a unit led by Mallett, who has a 70% completion percentage so far this season, improving on last seasons 55.8%, when he threw for 30 touchdowns with only 7 interceptions in his first season as a starter after transferring from Michigan. Mallet leads the nation with 1,081 passing yards in three games, after torching a highly regarded Georgia team for 380 yards last week, including the game winning scoring toss to Greg Childs with 15 seconds remaining. Broderick Green is Mallett’s top target so far this season, averaging nearly 23 yards per reception in the Razorbacks pass-heavy offense. Ingram gets her first big test of the season after playing for the first time last week against Duke, where he rushed for 151 yards on only 9 carries in one half of play. With games against number 9 Florida and number 12 South Carolina the next two weeks, the Crimson Tide cannot afford to come in flat against Arkansas.
Mallet had a tough day last year against Alabama in a 35-7 Tide romp, going 12-35 for only 160 yards. He will need to step up his level of play this year, and has the advantage of playing at home this time. The Razorbacks come in having last 4 of their last 5 against top 25 opponents and 5-16 ATS in their last 21 games in September. The Crimson Tide have a record of 9-2 ATS in their last 11 road games, and 10-4 ATS in their last 14 SEC games. The over is 7-1 in Arkansas’ last 8 home games, and 3-1-2 in Alabama’s last 6 games overall.
Alabama vs Arkansas Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Alabama Crimson Tide -7
@ Arkansas Razorbacks +7
@ Arkansas +240
Alabama vs Arkansas Prediction for Week 4:
Spread Prediction (Top Play): Alabama is a solid favorite here; the Tide simply has too many weapons on offense for Arkansas’ over-matched defense to account for. The Razorbacks will definitely put more points on the board than the 7 they scored last season, but they will not be able to keep up with Ingram, McElroy and company as the Tide comes in at full strength on offense for this one. Alabama may stumble in its three week gauntlet of top 25 SEC competition, but the bet here is that it will not be this week. If the Tide defense can create turnovers this game could turn into a blowout, more likely Alabama will pull away late and not look back!
PREDICTION (TOP PLAY) = Alabama -7
Over/Under Prediction: Points aplenty in this one as both offenses have been in high gear so far this season and Alabama’s defense gets its first big test of 2010 with a defense that has 9 new starters from the National Championship team. Expect Mallett to play better at home and against this Alabama defense than he did a year ago. The Crimson Tide offense is more explosive this year as well, with McElroy who threw for 291 yards and 3 touchdowns in last year’s game, capable of lighting things up in Arkansas focuses on stopping the two-headed monster at running back of Ingram and Richardson. Take the over here, no reason to go against the trend. Prediction – Over 54.5 points