Alabama vs. Arkansas Prediction, Pick Against the Spread, and Latest Odds
Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Alabama Crimson Tide
Spread: Alabama -21
Game time: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Where to Watch: CBS
Alabama vs. Arkansas Prediction
Every Arkansas game is at least a little bit weird, so it’s best not to dismiss the possibility that the Razorbacks cause problems for Alabama on Saturday in Tuscaloosa. The Hogs couldn’t move the ball much at all against a dilapidated LSU last weekend, but they did just (just!) enough to leave Baton Rouge with a 16-13 win in overtime to move to 7-3. They’re one two-point conversion against Ole Miss away from taking an 8-2 record into Bryant-Denny Stadium, but such as it is, they’ll need to make things chaotic to have a chance.
The Tide have a talent edge on every team they’ll face this year except Georgia in an eventual SEC Championship matchup, but they’ve shown enough warts that it’s possible they’ll struggle with Arkansas. In addition to losing to a Texas A&M team that Arkansas had already beaten, Nick Saban’s team struggled quite a bit with a Florida side that turned out to be thoroughly mediocre and the same LSU that just played an OT game against the Hogs. What should be an easy double-digit win for the Tide, per various projection systems, might not be one.
All told, though, I think Bama has enough juice to cover a three-touchdown spread in this game. The Tide’s offensive strengths –– specifically, Bryce Young’s frequent deep bombs to his talented receivers –– should show through against an occasionally leaky Arkansas secondary, and the Tide should be able to find enough points to make their backers happy. The fact that Bama is on the edge of the College Football Playoff field and needs style points as much as any team in the country is a nice little bonus to support the idea of a Tide cover, too.
Bama isn’t its usual dominant self in the run game this year. LSU, Florida, and Miami have all kept Brian Robinson Jr. and company from getting much traction on the ground, and in two of those three cases, the offense couldn’t make up for it through the air enough to provide a good day for Tide bettors. Bama only scored 20 against LSU and 31 against Florida and, of course, failed to cover in both of those games. But Florida has a good pass defense, and while LSU doesn’t, the Tigers are decent at preventing the big play. Miami’s shown plenty of explosive-pass-play vulnerability, though, and the Tide exploited that in their Week 1 blowout win. Arkansas’ defense has had its own problems with big pass plays, and I think Young will tap into them. Bama has had at least four 20-plus-yard pass plays in seven straight games.
Arkansas’ run defense might prove a meaty target for Bama’s less-than-awesome ground attack, too. The Hogs are coming off back-to-back stout rush defense efforts against two teams that really cannot run the ball (or choose not to) in LSU and Mississippi State. Before that, the Hogs were gashed pretty badly by the three most talented offenses they’ve faced in the SEC: Texas A&M, Georgia, and Ole Miss. I expect Alabama to look more like those teams than the MSU and LSU offenses Arkansas has recently played well against up front.
I’m also not bullish on the Arkansas offense against the Bama defense. The Hogs put on an exhibition in that 52-51 Week 6 loss at Ole Miss, but since then, they’ve put together two really pedestrian efforts in three SEC games. (I’m fine discounting their results against FCS Arkansas-Pine Bluff.) Their running game faltered in those matchups, and their offensive line will face a bigger talent deficit here than in any game other than a Week 5 loss to Georgia.
Sam Pittman has mounted one of the most impressive comeback jobs of any coach in the sport the last two years. Arkansas is getting closer to being able to keep Alabama somewhat in check, and there’s a chance the Razorbacks do it this weekend. But enough seems stacked against them on both sides of the ball that the best value is in laying points with Saban.
Alabama vs. Arkansas Pick
- Pick: Alabama -21 @ -110