The Crimson Tide will have its third-ranked football matchup this week, as Alabama travels up to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to play the Razorbacks, a team that’s ranked No. 16 in the AP poll and have just one loss to No. 8 Texas A&M.
“I think our team is making progress, but I think we need to continue to do that and continue to work because every week in the SEC you’ve got a real challenge and a real test, and that certainly won’t be any different playing on the road this weekend against Arkansas, which I think has a really, really good team,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “This is a really strong opponent who’s only lost one game this year and certainly has shown an ability to finish games and win close games.”
The Razorbacks fought the Crimson Tide to the end during the past two seasons, losing just 14-27 last season and 13-14 the year before. Both teams have been characterized as tough, hard-nosed teams, which may have lent to the slugfest of the last two seasons.
“They got a big offensive line,” linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton said. “It’s going to be a good, hard-fought game, so we got to eat our Wheaties this weekend. Be ready to play some physical football.”
This year’s Arkansas team is known for its offensive attack, which ranks No. 5 in the SEC for points per game at 36. Much of that production comes from Razorbacks quarterback Austin Allen, who has already thrown for 1,232 yards and 12 touchdowns with just two interceptions.
Allen leads the entire SEC with a 167.69 quarterback rating.
“He’s a very good athlete. But I’ve been very, very impressed with his decision making,” Saban said. “He’s got a really good arm, and he’s made a lot of throws to the field, throws down the field. He executes their offense extremely well.”
Saban said this edition of the Razorbacks has one of the most well-balanced teams the Crimson Tide will play all season. It’s not just the passing attack that has done well, but it’s the physical run game that Arkansas has been known for in years past.
Arkansas running back Rawleigh Williams III is second in the conference in rushing yards with 559.
For Alabama’s defense, Saturday will be the first time it has faced an offense this balanced.
“Going into the game, you already know it’s going to be a physical one,” defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson said. “So we have to just go out, make sure we’re ready and just be ready to bump heads the whole game, the whole 60 minutes.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports