Each week Torres Online college football wrter Jake Faigus will preview a big games that we don't get to in Aaron Torres' weekly picks.
Today, that game is the fascinating matchup between Alabama and Arkansas in Fayetteville. The Crimson Tide are ranked near the top of the polls, but have struggled on the road of late. Can the Hogs pull the upset?
Let's get to the preview, with all odds provided by Betfred Sportsbook:
No. 2 Alabama at No. 20 Arkansas
Spread: Alabama (-17)
Alabama visits Arkansas this week, after cruising to a win last week against Vanderbilt. Arkansas is coming off a heartbreaking loss to Texas A&M, after they missed a last second field goal. Arkansas hung around with Alabama last year, and only lost by seven points. This should be an interesting matchup in Fayetteville.
Alabama is a 17-point favorite and is at -885 on the money line in the BetFred SportsBook. The spread may seem high, but Alabama is Alabama, and to oddsmakers that still means something, and Arkansas is coming off a loss last week too. The over/under is set at 61, which seems like it’s a lot, but both offenses can score. These defenses have stepped up, but this total seems right because of the offenses.
My pick here is Arkansas +17 points.
I don’t expect Arkansas to win, but they should be able to cover this big of a spread. Arkansas hung around last year with Alabama on the road, and now the game is in Razorback Stadium. The key for Arkansas is going to be in the trenches. Everything they do is based around the run game. Raheim Sanders and K.J. Jefferson highlight the running game. K.J. Jefferson is the biggest key because he’s become one of the better quarterbacks in the SEC. The biggest challenge for the Razorbacks is going to be trying to contain Will Anderson Jr. and Dallas Turner off the edge. Anderson Jr. specifically is considered the best defensive player in all of college football and can easily wreak havoc on an offense. Alabama’s offense on the other hand is going to have a very easy time through the air with how the Razorbacks have defended the pass. Arkansas has the best pass rush in the country right now, so if Bryce Young can beat the rush, then he could have a field day against that secondary. I still trust the Razorbacks to cover this spread, but also expect Alabama to win still, in the range of 7-10 points.
The biggest key in this game is the Arkansas offensive line vs the Alabama front seven. Alabama’s front seven is littered with talent. Any conversation about the Crimson Tide’s defense overall starts and ends with Will Anderson Jr. off the edge. Through four games, he has 4.5 sacks, and he also has a pick-six. He also has 20 total tackles on the year. The Tide also have Dallas Turner, Henry To’oTo’o, and even Jaylen Moody in the linebacking corps, who all probably have an NFL future. Turner only has nine tackles on the year, but To’oTo’o has 23 total tackles, and Moody leads the team with 25 total tackles. Arkansas’ line is up for the challenge. Every position on the offensive line is a returning starter from last year and has a lot of talent and experience. The headliner that has an NFL future is Ricky Stromberg at center. This will be a great matchup in the game, especially because Sam Pittman’s background is in the offensive line. Expect this to decide who wins and how close this game will get.
Follow Jake Faigus on Twitter - @Jake_Faigus