Alabama is 5-0 against Arkansas since 2011, winning those games by an average margin of victory of 28.5 points per game. However, the last two games have been decided by a total of 14 points.
The Crimson Tide are averaging 44 points per game in 2016 and have been getting more consistent each and every week. The offense is averaging 231 rushing yards per game and passing for 252 yards through the air this year.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts has looked very comfortable in the system and has completed 62% of his passes for 989 yards with 7 touchdowns and one interception. Hurt has the ability to make plays outside the pocket and has added 276 rushing yards on the ground along with 3 rushing touchdowns. Hurts has shown maturity in big games this year and is getting better each week. However, this is another road SEC game and he will need to be patient and pick his opportunities to attack the Arkansas secondary.
Alabama has done an excellent job of putting themselves into third down and short situations that has taken pressure off of Hurts. On the year, the team is converting 48% of their third down attempts and will need to duplicate that effort this Saturday to pick up the win.
Running back Damien Harris leads the team with 356 rushing yards and has been slowly healing from an injury suffered three weeks ago.
The key to the win on Saturday will be the play of the wide receivers and their ability to stretch the Razorback secondary. Ardarius Stewart and Calvin Ridley have combined for 44 receptions for 603 yards with 6 touchdowns.
The X-Factor could be teammate and former Bowling Green wide receiver-Gehrig Deiter. Deiter has 7 receptions for 169 yards and could be used on short to intermediate routes underneath coverage to give Hurts a check down in his progressions. Deiter is a physical player that can catch the football at its highest point and is a solid blocker as well.
Tight end O.J Howard has 12 receptions on the season and could be utilized in red zone opportunities this coming weekend on nickel backs and linebackers.
Defensively, the Alabama unit has started right where they left off last season-playing great against the run. Last year, the unit was 1st in FBS in rush defense allowing 75 rushing yards per game and entering this game, is only yielding 68 rushing yards to opposing offenses.
The secondary is giving up 188 passing yards per game and the front seven is going to have to get pressure on Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen. Alabama has recorded 17 sacks through five games and is only allowing opposing offenses to convert 27% on third down conversions.
Turnovers will be critical on the road and the defense enters this game +3 in turnover margin.
The Razorbacks are averaging 36 points per game and are very balanced rushing for 197 yards per game and passing for 246 yards through the air this season.
Quarterback Austin Allen is completing 67% of his passes for 1,232 yards with 12 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Allen has shown great poise in the pocket in delivering the football under pressure and will need to attack the Crimson Tide secondary with the deep ball to take the pressure off of the offensive line in run blocking.
Running back Rawleigh Williams III leads the team with 559 rushing yards averaging 5.5 yards per carry with 4 touchdowns. Williams is a big back that can wear down the Crimson Tide front seven if he has early success.
However, that will not be an easy task considering the Crimson Tide’s depth on their defensive front line.
Wide receiver Drew Morgan leads the team with 28 receptions for 301 yards with one score and has great hands to go with his solid route running skills.
Arkansas has success when they can run the football effectively and then work off of play action with Allen. However, because of the Alabama defense to run sideline to sideline, Arkansas will have to attack the secondary early on to open up running lanes for Williams later in the game.
Defensively, Arkansas is giving up 23 points per game and is allowing 163 rushing yards per game. The unit is yielding 211 passing yards through the air and has recorded 13 sacks through the first five games.
The Razorbacks are +3 in turnover margin and must be able to force turnovers against the inexperienced Hurts to give Allen and company field position.
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