Are there clues in the stats?
By Tony Carter
The #14 ranked and (3-0) Arkansas Razorbacks visit the #2 ranked and (3-0) Alabama Crimson Tide this weekend as a 12-point underdog. Both undefeated teams have enjoyed easy victories versus overwhelmed teams thus far.
This weekend should be a different story considering the contrasting statistical red flags.
Arkansas has outscored their opponents at a clip of 141-38, but those opponents have a combined record of 0-8. The first three opponents were Missouri State 51-7, New Mexico 52-3 and Troy 38-28.
The Arkansas Razorbacks are tallying up over 500 yards/game, but Alabama is relinquishing only 1/3 of that (170 yards/game).
Arkansas has averaged nearly seven yards per play. The Alabama defense is the best defensive unit in the nation surrendering only 2.5 yards per play (nearly ½ yard better than the next team).
Arkansas has yet to give up a touchdown versus the rush this year, Alabama is averaging four rushing touchdowns per game. Alabama running back Trent Richardson leads the nation in scoring with eight touchdowns—all on the ground.
Arkansas quarterbacks have been pressured all year, and have given up six sacks. In contrast, Alabama has only given up one sack so far this season. Editor’s note: I changed the wording of this sentence and its structure, but failed to change the related stat. Since this is a comparison between Arkansas’ pass protection and Alabama’s defense, the sentence should have read: In contrast, Alabama has netted four sacks with all four coming in the first game of the season. It was my error and not the author’s as I edited for clarity and put in an incorrect value.
Key Players: Watch for Arkansas junior wide receiver Cobi Hamilton. Hamilton is averaging just under 20 yards per catch. Also, keep an eye on the entire Alabama running back corps. The top three Alabama Crimson Tide rushers are averaging a staggering 8.1 yards per carry.
Key to Watch: Can Arkansas get the running game going or will the Razorbacks continue to be one-dimensional? This could be a big part of the game as Alabama Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban praised Arkansas’ offense for its balance between the Razorbacks’ rushing and passing offense.
Prediction: Alabama 27 Arkansas 17