By firstname.lastname@example.org (Ben Boynton)
As the No. 1 Crimson Tide prepares to take on the No. 16 Razorbacks in Fayetteville, Arkansas, recent history looks to be in favor of the visiting team. Alabama has won nine straight games against Arkansas, with the last loss coming in overtime in 2006, one year before coach Nick Saban took the reins in Tuscaloosa. Saban has never lost to the Hogs, though some of the games have been close contests.
Let’s take a look at the nine games Alabama has played against Arkansas during the Saban era.
In the past nine games, there have only been two kinds of results for the most part. Five of them were won by at least 20 points, and three were decided by less than seven. The only exception is last year’s 27-14 win when Alabama trailed at halftime and needed a 24-7 second-half performance to win. Also, the 2014 win needed a touchdown in the fourth quarter for Alabama to take the lead and ultimately win the game.
Alabama Average ScoreArkansas Average ScoreScore Differential36.813.323.5
On average, Alabama has outscored Arkansas by a little more than three touchdowns during the winning streak. Arkansas has had a few solid performances, such as 38 points in 2007, but for the most part, it has struggled to score. The last five games have been especially difficult for Arkansas, with two shutout losses and no performance better than 14 points for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas has given the Crimson Tide trouble, though. In the 2014 game, the Hogs outgained Alabama 335-227 yards on offense, and they outrushed a team lead by Alabama wide receiver T.J. Yeldon and running back Derrick Henry. Alabama star receiver Amari Cooper was a non-factor, with just one catch for 22 yards. Arkansas had one more turnover than Alabama and let the Crimson Tide possess the ball longer. The Razorbacks were unable to come up with a big home win against a Crimson Tide team reeling from a loss to Ole Miss a week prior.
Last year, Alabama played better, but still struggled early on. Arkansas led 7-3 until late in the third quarter when the Crimson Tide offense was able to score 24 unanswered points before Arkansas scored a late touchdown to end the run. Alabama got finished the job through the air, with 262 passing yards. For the second straight year, however, Alabama averaged less than three yards per carry on the ground against Arkansas.
Brandon Allen was the quarterback for the Razorbacks for the past three seasons, and this year, his brother, Austin Allen, will try to do what his brother never could and defeat Alabama. The Razorbacks have had decent passing performances in the past few years against Alabama, but the ground game will need to step up if they want a chance at an upset. The Razorbacks have averaged 2.1 yards per rush in the past two games.
The statistics show that Arkansas’s closest games against Alabama come when the Hogs limit the Crimson Tide’s run game and get their own passing game going. They’ll likely try to do both this Saturday as they look to end the nine-game losing streak against Alabama.
For the Crimson Tide, it just has to play strong defense while putting up points. Alabama has topped Arkansas with passing, rushing or defense in recent years, so there’s no clear-cut trend to Alabama’s victories.
Alabama is currently a 14-point favorite by most odds makers, but Arkansas will be motivated to come up with a big win at home. Recent history and statistics suggest an Alabama victory, but anything can go down Saturday at Fayetteville.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports