#3 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #14 Arkansas Razorbacks: Brutally Honest Game Preview

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Get ready for the first of two college football national championship “elimination games” this weekend. In the SEC, you have #3 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #14 Arkansas Razorbacks. Both have legit national title aspirations as do the #7 Oklahoma State Cowboys and #8 Texas A&M Aggies. In both conferences, you have other teams in the mix for the big prize, but eventually they’ll beat up on each other, and you may have only one left standing from each league. But don’t forget the Wisconsin Badgers from my neck of the woods and the Stanford Cardinal out west. Either/both of those squads could derail a SEC/Big 12 Challenge title game.

Getting back to Saturday, this really is going to be classic, offense vs. defense, big on big, eleven on eleven. So who do I have in the Arkansas offense vs. the Alabama defense (#2 in the nation in points allowed) ? Read on…

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Alabama Crimson Tide Analysis:

The Tide defense has at least three, probably four guys who will end up in the first two rounds of next April’s draft: Dre Kirkpatrick, Dont’a Hightower (it’s pronounced “Dante” as in the Inferno- even though the spelling might want to prompt you to start signing “Dont’a wish your girlfriend was hot like me? Dont’a wish your girlfriend was a freak like me?”)

The 2009 Arkansas game was memorable for Hightower, but for a very bad reason. He suffered a knee injury in the first quarter when he was cut blocked by an Arkansas lineman. Diagnosed a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and missed the rest of the season. Having played only four games, he was granted a medical redshirt making him a redshirt sophomore in 2010.

More on all those guys here.

AJ McCarron has settled nicely into the QB role.

And Trent Richardson’s NFL draft stock could be even higher than predecessor Mark Ingram, who won the Heisman. Richardson also talked about the influence Ingram has had on his career.

“He’ll always have a big role in my life. I try to follow in his footsteps, he’s one of the best running backs I’ve ever seen come through the collegiate level and play the game. He helped me out a lot with my vision, he had great vision. He could stop on a dime and cut real fast, that’s one thing I tried to pick up from him,” Richardson said.

Many runners have influenced Richardson, including Reggie Bush and the Vikings Adrian Peterson.

Richardson is frequently compared to Emmitt Smith, but his physique and running style are more similar to Earl Campbell. He’s also drawn comparisons to Michael Turner the Burner and O.J. Simpson (on the field, not off of it, of course).

To learn more about Richardson go here

And then there’s Eddie Lacy, who has almost as many yards as Richardson, despite almost half as many carries in 2011. Lacy is averaging more than a first down every time he rushes the ball!

How’s Arkansas going to stop all this?

For the full ‘Bama season preview go here

Arkansas Razorbacks Analysis:

They suffered a big blow when they lost running back Knile Davis to a season-ending ankle injury, but it didn’t seem to affect them too much in the polls; or on the field thus far. They haven’t played anyone yet, but have done a good job blowing out the scrubs they have faced off against. The defensive effort versus Troy left much to be desired- but then again some of that was garbage time stat padding.

RB Ronnie Wingo has filled in admirably for Davis, and looks like a true SEC feature back. QB Tyler Wilson could be a first-round draft pick in 2013. He’s completing 69 percent (69, dude!) of his passes thus far.

WRs Joe Adams, Jarius Wright and Greg Childs (CHILD, PLEASE! just two catches for 29 yards thus far in 2011?) comprise the nation’s best core. On defense, keep an eye on DEs Tenarius Wright (awesome name BTW) and Jake Baquette. Teaming with middle linebacker Jerry Franklin, the Hogs D is giving up just 113 ppg.

Cobi Hamilton has unexpectedly been Wilson’s favorite target, catching 13-252 and a stellar 19.4 thus far. Because of how good the Arkansas WRs are, last season’s game was a teachable moment for the Tide secondary. Coach Nick Saban talked about the confidence Robert Lester and Dre Kirkpatrick got after last year’s game against Arkansas, and how that will affect their professional development:

“I think the experience of playing last year, making plays and not only learning from the plays that they made, but also the mistakes that they made, helped them develop as good, consistent players. That’s what impacts their confidence and ability to perform more effectively in the game. A combination of all of those things can help contribute in a positive way to a player’s development.

We made a lot of mistakes last year, especially early in the game. We didn’t adjust the formations right, busted a long touchdown, and we didn’t have anybody dropping a flat. There’s a little more consistency, knowledge and experience, and I think a little more ability to adapt to circumstances and situations. I think when you play a team like Arkansas, they do a lot different things.

Conceptually, they’re the same things, but it is typical NFL style where they do it in a different way than how you practiced. Last year at this time, we weren’t very adaptable relative to the knowledge and experience that we had. I think we have better knowledge and experience now, and I hope we’ll make better adjustments in this game and not make those kinds of mental mistakes.”

This year is about getting in the BcS, and winning their first conference title since 1989, when they were in the defunct SWC

For the full Hogs season preview go here

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Prediction to be taken with an entire truckload of salt, not a grain of salt: ‘Bama 31, Arkansas 21 (2010-11 prediction record 23-11)

The Hogs entered this season with their highest August ranking since 1990; so no doubt expectations are sky high. However, Tuscaloosa is a really tough place to play, and this match-up of big on big, ‘Bama has both the health and home field advantage.

I just predicted a Tide game two weeks ago, where I said Alabama 28, Penn State 9. The actual outcome was 27-11. NOT BAD!

Will I be this bulls-eye again?

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site that generates millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

He does regular weekly radio spots in Chicago and Cleveland and has appeared on live shows all across the world from Houston to New Zealand. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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Comments

  1. sec's6thtitle says

    Coach petrino has been licking his chops for this. Hogs to much offense for even the Tide Arkansas 34 Bama 19

  2. Floridafan101 says

    Bobby Petrino has so many tricks up his sleeves, as does Nick Saban, Personally I think it will be who wants this one more. And Believe me both want it, but Petrino needs it.

  3. Floridafan101 says

    Bobby Petrino has so many tricks up his sleeves, as does Nick Saban, Personally I think it will be who wants this one more. And Believe me both want it, but Petrino needs it. Anyway Arkansas 26 Alabama 21

  4. Austin Hunter says

    Not a chance. Alabama 34 Arky 13

  5. I’ll go with Alabama in a rout 38-14

  6. reader to most accurately predict the score wins a free Blue Mountain State season 2 dvd. Just email me your mailing address and I’ll get it out to you.

    here’s more about the dvd- it has denise richards and stacy keibler.

    http://thesportsbank.wpengine.com/nfl/denise-richards-stacy-keibler-on-spikes-blue-mountain-state/

  7. Tide fans way to cocky. Hogs take them off their high horse 35-14

  8. Bama loses to Arkansas and LSU and sets up a big showdown in baton rouge between the tigers and piggies for the west title

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