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Arkansas vs. Alabama Football Prediction and Preview

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Alabama Crimson TIde Football Prediction and Preview

Razorbacks look to snap 14-game losing streak to Crimson Tide when the SEC West rivals clash in Tuscaloosa

Al-a-bama, Ar-kan-saw, I do love my maw and paw.

I'm sure you've heard that lyric before, right? If not, google it. It's fun. Just like this UofA-UofA showdown this Saturday.

And this is a unique situation between these two SEC West Division programs, as both of them are coming off of playing LSU and both of them came away with big-time, razor-thin escapes to get out with a win against the Tigers. Oh, sure, Alabama (9-1, 5-1 SEC) didn't actually play LSU in its last game, but can we really count the 59-3 win over New Mexico State as a "real" game? Games where a team doesn't really need to bother wearing helmets should not count as a real game.

Meanwhile, Arkansas (7-3, 3-3) went to Baton Rouge last week and eked out a rather ugly, but gutty, 16-13 overtime win. The boys in red were held to just 283 yards of offense and went 3-for-16 on third-down conversions. But on the good side, they did not have a turnover while the defense got a pair of interceptions and they held the Tigers to just one score in three red-zone chances.

No. 21 Arkansas at No. 2 Alabama

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 20 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Alabama -21

When Arkansas Has the Ball

No big five-inch headlines here, but quarterback KJ Jefferson is THE key to this offense for Arkansas. As he goes, so go the Razorbacks. And most of the time that is either Jefferson tucking the ball and running or hooking up with Treylon Burks, who has 51 catches for 796 yards. But when Jefferson drops back to pass, he'll have plenty to worry about. Alabama's Will Anderson Jr. has taken over the national lead in sacks with 12.5 on the season, even though it feels like he's got 30 or so. Bama must form tackle, use fundamentals, and stay disciplined to keep Jefferson in check.

Speaking of Burks, he could be considered the best receiver the Tide will face this season. He has faced multiple double- and triple-teaming this year and yet has still collected the 51 catches mentioned above. But Alabama has such good athletes in its defensive backfield, look for Burks to be in more one-on-one matchups and possibly be targeted even more often than in recent games. Oh, against LSU, he had just four catches for a paltry 16 yards. Eeesh.

Typical of the Tide, they are once again downright devilish on defense. Going into this weekend's game, they are ranked fifth nationally in total defense and 12th in scoring, giving up just 18 points per game. But the most intriguing stat of all is that they are No. 4 in the country against the run, which stares in the face of that Arkansas ground game, which is sixth in the nation, putting out 233 yards per game. Keep in mind, the Tide have already faced the No. 3-ranked rushing team in the country — Ole Miss — and they held the Rebels to 78 yards on the ground.

When Alabama Has the Ball

The biggest question going into this one is whether the Razorbacks will follow the Texas A&M/LSU defensive game plan and try like the dickens to get to Bryce Young. Both the Aggies and Tigers were able to sack Young four times, along with a number of QB hurries. In both games, Young never seemed to be his usual cool, calm, settled self. The Razorbacks don't have a monstrous pass rush (they're 68th nationally with 19 sacks), but you have to figure they are going to follow the blueprint and try to sell out and get to Young early and often.

The second biggest question going into this one is will Alabama have a running game? The Tide running back corps has been beset by injuries and they are down to two remaining scholarship players in Brian Robinson Jr., who has 823 yards and 14 touchdowns, and Trey Sanders, who has 195 yards and two TDs. No. 2 rusher Roydell Williams went down with an injury against New Mexico State. Things are so bad, Wide receiver Christian Leary and linebacker Demouy Kennedy have both been moved to running back and have been taking reps in practice this week.

Final Analysis

No doubt Alabama will be laser-focused here in order to stay in control of their own destiny in the pursuit of the SEC West title and their College Football Playoff aspirations. And considering they almost blew those hopes and dreams against LSU in their last real football game, the Crimson Tide shouldn't overlook the very capable Razorbacks.

But don't hate me if I'm surprised the point spread is just three touchdowns. The last time the Razorbacks beat the Crimson Tide was back in 2006. Since then it's been 14 straight whippings the Red Elephants have handed down on those poor little piggies. In the last five showdowns, er … I mean beatdowns, the Tide has scored 49, 41, 65, 48, and 52 points.

Prediction: Alabama 42, Arkansas 17

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— Written by Eric Sorenson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He is a college football, college baseball and college hockey addict... and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Stitch_Head.