Sat, 30 Sep 2023

No. 2 Alabama puts win streak vs. No. 20 Arkansas on line

Field Level Media
28 Sep 2022, 04:40 GMT+10

Alabama will try to continue its dominance of Southeastern Conference rival Arkansas on Saturday when it travels to Fayetteville, Ark., in one of four matchups this week between teams in the top 20.

The No. 2 Crimson Tide (4-0, 1-0 SEC) have won 15 consecutive games against the 20th-ranked Razorbacks (3-1, 1-1) and have not lost a matchup in the series since 2006, the year before Nick Saban arrived at Alabama.

This will be the Tide's second road game of the season and first against a conference opponent. In its only road game so far, Alabama narrowly escaped with a 20-19 nonconference victory at Texas on Sept. 10.

The Razorbacks last defeated Alabama in 2006 at home, and could use a major bounce back victory after blowing a 14-point lead in last week's 23-21 loss to then-No. 23 Texas AM.

Arkansas led 14-0 before the Aggies scored 23 unanswered points. The Razorbacks pulled to within two, but kicker Cam Little's 42-yard go-ahead field goal with 1:30 remaining in the game bounced off the top of the right upright.

"You know, after the game and on the bus, I was going to the airport I went back and talked to each and every one of them," Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said. "The great thing about it is that we're not used to it. That was only (the second loss) in the last 10 games. But it hurt."

The loss cost the Razorbacks a chance to start 4-0 in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1988-89, while preventing them from winning their first two SEC games since 2006. It also cost them 10 spots in the AP Top 25 rankings.

Each team begins a tough stretch in the schedule Saturday.

Alabama, which ranks fifth in the nation in scoring and sixth in total offense (48.3 points and 517.5 yards per game), has No. 17 Texas AM and then No. 8 Tennessee on the schedule. Arkansas follows this week's game with three consecutive road games at Mississippi State, No. 19 BYU and Auburn.

"This is a very dangerous team we're playing in Arkansas," Saban said. "They have a very, very good team. Coming off a tough loss. They make a lot of explosive plays."

Both teams have run the ball well. The Razorbacks rank ninth nationally with 243.8 rushing yards per game just ahead of Alabama, which ranks 10th at 235 yards per game.

Arkansas' Raheim Sanders leads the SEC with 508 yards on 83 carries and has three touchdowns while averaging 6.1 yards. Quarterback KJ Jefferson has 274 rushing yards and four touchdowns in addition to his 941 yards, eight touchdowns and only one interception passing on 67-of-97 attempts.

"(Quarterback) KJ Jefferson is a dual threat-wise, big, strong, really good passer," Saban said. "They've got a lot of quarterback runs, which create another gap on defense. And to go with that, they have great play-action passes."

Alabama counters at QB with reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young, who has completed 83 of 121 passes for 1,029 yards, 13 touchdowns and two interceptions so far while rushing for 150 yards and two touchdowns.

"(I see) a lot of confidence ... in everything he does, whether he's throwing, whether he's scrambling, staying in the pocket until the last second," Pittman said. "When he gets outside the pocket, he just looks comfortable, like 'I could run it for a touchdown, I can throw it for a touchdown. I'm just gonna do kind of whichever one I decide to do.' "

--Field Level Media

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