Top-Ranked Alabama Up Next For Battered Arkansas

By: Willie Bee | Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fans of the Arkansas Razorbacks will undoubtedly be out in full force calling the hogs this Saturday when the Alabama Crimson Tide comes to Fayetteville.  But unless there's a strong-armed sow in the bunch to play quarterback, not to mention a few quick little piglets to man the defensive backfield, those cries of, "Woooo, pig soooie!" might turn to, "Ew, pig pewy" by game's end.

Nick Saban brings the top-ranked Tide into Razorback Stadium as huge 20½-point favorites for the mid-afternoon kickoff that many will see on CBS.  Alabama opened as fairly large 15½-point road chalk, but the number immediately shot up as news from Arkansas regarding QB Tyler Wilson's status pointed to the senior sitting this one out with lingering symptoms from a concussion he suffered last week.

Saturday's total has also inched up a bit from the 52 points initially posted to 54 as of midday Thursday.

Maybe it's best that Wilson doesn't remember much about Arkansas' recent performance.  Favored by 30 and up by 21 early in the third quarter, the Razorbacks folded in an eventual 34-31 overtime defeat to Louisiana-Monroe.  A couple of interceptions – one by Wilson and the other by his successor Brandon Allen – didn't help matters, but it was an Arkansas defense that played an even bigger role in the upset.

The Warhawks ran and passed their way to 550 yards against the Hog stop unit, more than 400 of that coming through the air.  ULM ended the day with nearly a 2:1 advantage on the clock, and converted an amazing 6-of-7 fourth-down attempts.  Arkansas' secondary will be without starting cornerback Tevin Mitchell this Saturday due to a neck injury, while his partner on the other side, CB Kaelon Kelleybrew, is probable despite an arm injury.

All signs point to Allen, a redshirt freshman out of Fayetteville, getting the start under center for the Razorbacks.  He completed just 6-of-20 pass attempts last week in relief, along with a touchdown and the aforementioned pick.

Whether it's Allen or Wilson guiding the Arkansas offense, they'll be going up against yet another staunch Crimson Tide defensive unit that ranks fifth in the country allowing just 14 points combined in the first two games, and 14th in total defense (246.5 ypg).  Alabama whitewashed Western Kentucky last week, 35-0, but fell a field goal shy of covering the 38-point spread.  That victory followed a 41-14 thrashing of then-No. 8 Michigan at Cowboys Stadium in the season opener.

AJ McCarron directed 'Bama with precision in the win over WKU, completing 14-of-19 passes for 219 yards and four touchdowns, two each to Christion Jones and Kevin Norwood.  The Crimson Tide has turned it over just once this year while the defense has tallied seven takeaways.

Arkansas' loss a week ago dropped the Hogs out of the AP poll after sitting eighth heading into the game vs. Louisiana-Monroe.  They fell 11 spots to No. 21 in the coaches rankings, and five rungs to No. 14 in the Don Best Linemakers Poll.

Alabama continues to sit atop the latest Don Best ratings where the Crimson Tide began the season.  Saban's squad is also No. 1 in the AP and coaches polls.

Saturday's meeting will be the 23rd in the series; Alabama has won the last five, including the last two in Fayetteville, and owns a 14-8 record all-time.

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