By Tommy Deas
Tua Tagovailoa is operating at a ridiculous level in terms of passing efficiency and production. The running game is coming along. Henry Ruggs III is one of several receivers who can stretch the field. Arkansas has only topped 17 points once.
The Crimson Tide is allowing 13 points per game, while Arkansas yields more than 31. Mack Wilson leads an athletic group of linebacker and the pass defense has been solid. Arkansas is decent against the run but woeful in pass coverage.
Arkansas has given up three touchdown returns in five games, one on a punt and two on kickoffs. Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle is a highlight-reel punt returner. The Crimson Tide has had issues in the kicking game, but not to the level that the Razorbacks have experienced.
Given time, Chad Morris may be able to get Arkansas on track with his high-tempo offense, but he doesn’t have the personnel to do so yet. Alabama’s Nick Saban has built a machine that has been steamrolling opponents. This may be his best team yet.
The circumstances favor Arkansas in some ways: early kickoff, long road trip and an opponent that is on a four-game losing streak. The Razorbacks may be getting a bit better, and have to hope Alabama is looking ahead to future challenges.
Alabama 49, Arkansas 10
This won’t be a severe challenge, but Arkansas will at least put up a fight. The Razorbacks, however, don’t have the firepower or defensive ability to make this one competitive. It’s a matter of how much Alabama wins by, not whether it will.
Alabama 52, Arkansas 10
Arkansas can call all the hogs it wants, but it won’t stop Alabama from rolling into town and handing the Razorbacks a good shellacking.
Alabama 42, Arkansas 6
There haven’t been too many low points in Alabama football’s last 60 years but the 1998 game at Fayetteville was a definite trough (Hog. trough. Get it?). So 20 years later, here is a flip-the-score special.
Alabama 51, Arkansas 13
The starters remain dominant, but the backups still need some work. The good news is the starters are dominant enough to make sure the backups get plenty of work.
Alabama 44, Arkansas 7
Arkansas is getting better as a program but Alabama is too much on their plate.
Alabama 45, Arkansas 14
The Alabama offense has been operating at such an efficient level, it will be interesting to see if the early-morning start on the road has any affect on it. It’s still doubtful though that Tua Tagovailoa will be playing in the fourth quarter.
Alabama 49, Arkansas 10
Arkansas’ struggles on special teams could open the door to Jaylen Waddle fireworks that would spice up a game that could prove to be bland. Alabama will win big in business-as-usual fashion.
Alabama 56, Arkansas 6
How can UA students not want to show up for Crimson Tide games and watch Tua Tagovailoa, the most electrifying player in college football, lead an star-studded offense that’s putting up unprecedented numbers? Mind-boggling. This one’s on the road, but you can turn on ESPN to see some dazzling plays from Tagovailoa in another blowout.
Alabama 52, Arkansas 17
Even though Nick Saban called this a potential trap game, Alabama isn’t going to lose. It’s not even going to come close. Arkansas may have lost to Texas A&M by just a touchdown, but it’s no secret its season is not going well.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
By Ben Stansell
Alex Leatherwood, Soph./OL, 6-6/304
Key Stat: Has yet to give up a sack
Buzz: Through five games, Leatherwood is still settling into his new position at right guard. He draws a tough matchup Saturday, having to help contain Arkansas defensive lineman Arman Watts. Watts has been a menace to opposing offenses, recording four sacks and two forced fumbles. Leatherwood will need to play well to keep Watts from disrupting Alabama’s backfield.
Anfernee Jennings, R-Junior/LB, 6-3/266
Key Stat: Has 2.5 sacks on the year
Buzz: Arkansas’ offensive line has struggled to protect its quarterback, allowing 14 sacks through five games. The bad news for the Razorbacks: Jennings, a physical pass rusher who possesses quickness off the edge, is coming to Fayetteville. He will try to force Ty Storey, who has thrown four picks, into making more bad decisions.
Irv Smith Jr., Junior/TE, 6-4/241
Key Stat: Has caught two touchdown receptions this season
Buzz: Outside of Alabama’s dangerous trio of sophomore receivers, Smith paces the team in receptions. The tight end has caught 14 passes for 209 yards. While Arkansas has been solid defending the run, the Razorbacks have allowed 256.6 passing yards per game. He had one catch against Louisiana-Lafayette, but Smith could be in for a bigger game Saturday.
De’Jon Harris, Jr./LB, 6-0/244
Key Stat: Leads the SEC in tackles with 53
Buzz: Harris earned All-SEC honors last season after leading Arkansas in tackles (115), tackles for a loss (8.5) and sacks (3.5). He’s continued to be a defensive playmaker for the Razorbacks in 2018, racking up a career-best 16 tackles against Texas A&M last week. A team captain, Harris will be a critical part of Arkansas’ attempt to slow Alabama down.
La’Michael Pettway, Jr./WR, 6-2/219
Key Stat: Leads all Razorback receivers with three touchdowns
Buzz: Arkansas’ offense has struggled to find its way through five games, but one bright spot has been Pettway. He’s caught 12 passes, double his receptions last season, for 183 yards, averaging 15.3 yards per catch. Pettway is a larger receiver, but Alabama’s lengthy defensive backs should be able to match up well.
Ty Storey, Jr./QB, 6-2/215
Key Stat: Has thrown four touchdowns this year
Buzz: After flip-flopping on starting quarterbacks, it appears Arkansas has settled on Storey. His season has mirrored the Razorbacks’, containing ups and downs. He’s completed 50 percent of his passes for 631 yards. The way he handles Alabama’s pressure will determine Arkansas’ chance of success.