Razorbacks have no chance to upset Alabama this weekend without a perfect defensive performance and then some
Is there any way Arkansas can shock Nick Saban’s No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide and the rest of the college football world on Saturday? The last time the Razorbacks scraped by Alabama was in 2006 with a 24-23 win at home that left the series record just barely in Alabama’s favor at 9-8.
Fast forward to 2018, where Arkansas now trails in the series 21-7 (officially 18-8 after some forfeits and vacated wins) and limps into Razorback Stadium as a 34.5-point underdog in the same game.
Even though the Razorbacks haven’t defeated Alabama under Saban, they have come close. In 2010, coach Bobby Petrino led Arkansas into the fourth quarter with a 20-14 lead after picking off Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy twice, but a 36-yard field goal by Jeremy Shelley and a 1-yard rushing touchdown by Mark Ingram eventually gave Alabama the 24-20 victory. In 2014, Bret Bielema’s Razorbacks shut down the rushing efforts of T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry, holding Alabama’s ground attack to 66 yards. But quarterback Blake Sims found the end zone through the air twice on 161 yards passing for another Saban victory.
Arkansas hung with Alabama in those games because of strong defensive foundations, something this team shows glimpses of under coordinator John Chavis. The Razorbacks actually rank No. 2 in total defense in Southeastern Conference games, allowing an impressive average of only 301 yards to No. 9 Auburn and Texas A&M. But the defense has not been enough to help them secure more than a single win on the season thus far.
Still, Saban expressed some concern during a press conference on Monday, claiming this could be a “trap game” for his top-ranked team. It’s fair to say he has a feel for the game better than anyone else, but nobody buys his statement as anything more than typical coach speak to motivate his Alabama team. H&A
Kickoff time for Alabama and Arkansas is 11 a.m. CDT on ESPN.
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Photo courtesy University of Alabama Athletics