The Tua-less Alabama Crimson Tide welcome the Arkansas Razorbacks to Tuscaloosa for a Saturday night showdown at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama are the No. 1 team and the country, and are still enjoying a perfect record of 7-0 going into Saturday. However, there is some concern regarding the status of the Crimson Tide.
They didn’t look like their regular selves last week against the lowly Tennessee Volunteers. It resulted in a win, but it was a closer than expected matchup with a final score of 35-13. The offense went into a state of flux once Tua Tagovailoa left the ball game. Though, he didn’t have a perfect game, either.
Tua completed 11 of 12 passes, but didn’t have a touchdown pass to his credit. He did throw an interception, so it really wasn’t a great day for anybody for Alabama. Nick Saban couldn’t have been too pleased with the performance as a group. Najee Harris got his on the ground, though, as he galloped for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns. Brian Robinson Jr. also chipped in for 40 yards and a score on the ground. The running attack is not going to be an issue for the Crimson Tide against Arkansas in this one. But there is some concern regarding the absence of Tua.
In any event, Alabama should be able to advance to 8-0 against Arkansas here. They could go to the third-team and likely still win, but going forward they’re going to need a healthy Tua at quarterback. There are a few good teams who will give Bama all they can handle and Tua is going to be a necessity. One of them is the LSU Tigers, who are quickly turning into a fancy pick to win the College Football Playoff.
We won’t have to wait for the playoff to see Alabama vs LSU, though. The Crimson Tide and Tigers on November 9th in one of the most anticipated matchups this season. Alabama are expected to have Tua back by then, but there are no guarantees and his ankle is unlikely to be 100%. Mac Jones will be responsible for taking snaps for Alabama on Saturday night.
Jones is a pro-style quarterback, so expect a different offense tailored around Jones. In other words, he’s going to hand the ball off a lot, like we used to see from a typical Alabama team in the past. The Crimson Tide still won a lot of games with that philosophy, as they won the National Championship with A.J. McCarron relying on a run-heavy offense.
Arkansas have Alabama in the best spot possible, but they’re a losing team with a record of 2-5. Their only wins have come against Portland State and Colorado State. The third win is unlikely going to happen against Alabama, but the most important thing to us is whether they cover the spread. Head below for our free Arkansas vs. Alabama pick.
Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Alabama Crimson Tide NCAAF Week 9 Betting Odds:
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Arkansas vs. Alabama Pick:
Najee Harris and the run game will help out Mac Jones considerably in this one. Thankfully for Alabama, Tua’s injury didn’t come before the LSU game and Jones can get eased into the starting role against a bad Arkansas team. Nick Saban does not need Jones to do anything special in this game for the team to find success. Harris has rushed for 556 yards and 6 yards per carry with 3 scores on the ground. He’s also a threat in the passing game, as he’s caught 16 balls for 171 yards and 4 touchdowns. His ability to catch short passes should be a major asset for Jones underneath.
Helping Jones and the Alabama offense out in this one is their opponent, Arkansas. The Razorbacks have gotten throttled for 413 yards allowed per game. Auburn just punished Arkansas for 51 points in a 51-10 game. Bo Nix had a productive day, as he threw for 3 touchdowns on the Arkansas defense. Kam Martin needed just 10 carries to accumulate 84 yards on the ground. Arkansas have gotten torched this season for nearly 200 yards per game against the run, so expect a big day for Harris and the backs.
Alabama haven’t relied on the run as much with Tua. However, expect an old school Alabama attack in this contest. If you remember what Alabama looked like pre-Jalen Hurts, then you get an idea of what the game-plan is going to be for the Crimson Tide. Combined with their efficient defense against a bad Arkansas’ offense, it should be enough to demand control of this contest.
Arkansas starting quarterback, Ben Hicks, is nursing a sore shoulder going into this one. After the Auburn game, he was seen with ice on his shoulder, which doesn’t bode well for the Razorbacks going into Alabama. He’s thrown for just 2 touchdowns and 1 interception as a healthy QB. Arkansas have averaged 24.7 points per game this season, with most of those points coming against inferior competition. They’re going to be the inferior group in this one in Alabama.
Like I noted earlier, Saban couldn’t have been happy with the performance his team put forth against Tennessee. They clearly went into that one with a lazy mindset and didn’t take the Vols seriously. After that showing expect a crisper showing by Alabama against Arkansas. Jones will likely play competently enough to be a solid game manager. The defense should be able to suffocate Hicks who will be playing at less than 100% with a bad shoulder, thus providing Jones and the Bama offense with prime field position. Expect a 45-10 win for Alabama, as they roll for the win and cover.