The SEC has the same top dogs as ever, but other teams are biting at the heels of the best in the conference. While Alabama and Georgia are tearing through opponents, teams like Tennessee, Texas A&M, and Kentucky are trying to fight to be in the mix.
Another team in that contention is Arkansas. The Razorbacks turned things around last year with some gritty wins against bitter rivals. This year, they became a top 10 team early in the season.
Despite losing to Texas A&M, the Razorbacks still have plenty to play for in 2022. This Saturday, they will host the Crimson Tide. If Arkansas can somehow upset Alabama at home, the city of Fayetteville would not rest until Halloween.
Alabama is favored by over 2 touchdowns at the NCAAF odds, and the spread has been increasing since it opened. What can fans expect in this one? Here are key details and picks for this SEC bout between the Hogs and the Tide.
Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Arkansas Razorbacks
Saturday, October 1, 2022 – 03:30 PM EDT at Razorback Stadium
Arkansas will be hosting the Crimson Tide, which makes a massive difference in this game. The Razorbacks know how important this game is, and the fans will act accordingly.
Arkansas is hosting a Red-Out. This may be confusing with the Crimson Tide rolling in, but it will at least get fans excited and energized for the start of this game. If Arkansas can get off to a strong start, the crowd will carry momentum through the game, making it harder for Alabama to pull away.
However, this game is at 03:30 local time. If this were a night game, I would have more faith in the crowd impacting the outcome. Home teams can get rowdy, but nothing beats a night game in the SEC against a top-tier opponent.
Alabama has a history of struggling on the road in recent years. Last season, the Tide barely beat Florida and lost to Texas A&M. This year, Alabama needed a comeback drive to win against Texas. We’ll see in the first few drives how big of a factor the crowd will be.
Keys for an Arkansas Victory
Arkansas needs to turn production into points on Saturday. In the last game against Texas A&M, Arkansas led in every statistical category that mattered except for points scored. This is because the Razorbacks struggled to convert on third downs, and the offense is not explosive enough to make up for it with big plays down the field.
The run game will have to be productive, but this game will inevitably come down to how KJ Jefferson performs in key moments. There will be a few plays where the Razorbacks need some magic, and Jefferson will have to be the guy who provides it.
On defense, Arkansas needs to bring pressure consistently. Alabama’s offensive line has looked better but the group as a whole has not been perfect. There is certainly a chance to force Bryce Young into quick decisions.
Keys for the Tide Victory
Alabama will be looking to establish the run. Expect Jase McClellan to be the main contributor between the tackles as Jahmyr Gibbs performs as a receiving back for Alabama. This combination has been productive for Alabama, and it will be the driving force of the offense on Saturday.
For the defense, the secondary needs to step up. Terrion Arnold could see more reps on Saturday, but the depth at corner is a plus for Alabama. As long as someone steps up, the Tide will be set to stop Arkansas’s passing game.
Jaheim Oatis is seeing more reps at defensive tackle, and he is a wrecking ball in the run game. He will need to produce to stop Arkansas’s rushing attack.
Alabama vs. Arkansas: Picks and Prediction
I think both offenses will be content with methodical drives that move the ball and chew the clock. Both teams will stubbornly stick to winning the trenches, and that will keep this game from being explosive.
Because of this, for my college football picks, I like both the Under and for Arkansas to cover. Alabama will likely win without much of a struggle, but this could be close heading into halftime. Even with a few explosive plays by Alabama, the Under could easily hit.
A 35-20 game could cover the spread and also have the Under hit. That’s where I see this game going. Alabama will win by multiple scores, but they will just fail to cover the spread against a gritty Arkansas team that likes to chew the clock.
NCAAF Pick: Arkansas +17.5 (-114) at Unibet
NCAAF Pick: Under 61.5 (-110) at BetMGM