Unranked Arkansas travels to face #11 Alabama in Bryant-Denny Stadium this Saturday (10/14/23). Get Arkansas vs. Alabama odds, picks, and predictions below; our Arkansas vs. Alabama prediction is Alabama -16.5 alternate spread.
Arkansas vs. Alabama Prediction – College Football Week 7
Dual-threat quarterbacks have haunted Nick Saban throughout his Alabama tenure, but his exceptional defense can squash Arkansas here.
Out of 133 teams, Arkansas’ offensive line ranks 100th in PFF’s pass blocking grade. They have already allowed 17 sacks and 66 pressures through six weeks, mostly due to extremely shaky offensive tackles. Quarterback KJ Jefferson doesn’t help matters, as his poor pocket awareness and desire to extend plays routinely leads to sacks that could have been throwaways. Of the 131 quarterbacks with at least 100 dropbacks, Jefferson is 127th in pressure to sack ratio and 119th in average time to throw per PFF. Yikes!
Enter Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell, who own a combined 11 sacks and both rank top six in the nation in PFF’s Pass-Rush Productivity metric: “ a metric that combines sacks, hits and hurries relative to how many times they rush the passer.” They are arguably the most prolific pass-rush duo across college football, so Jefferson will be on the run for the entire game. Given that he ranks 91st in turnover worthy play rate per PFF, that may lead to costly Arkansas turnovers. Jefferson’s desire to run the ball also appears to be an ineffective plan, as the Tide are allowing a paltry three yards per rush and rank fifth in overall run defense grade.
If Jefferson can secure enough time to throw, then he’s quite dangerous at taking deep shots. He owns 11 big time throws compared to only one turnover worthy play on 20-plus yard attempts, and he has the arm strength to lead any deep receiver. However, Alabama’s secondary is riddled with elite defenders that excel at both man and zone coverage. Cornerbacks Kool-Aid McKinstry and Terrion Arnold are future NFL first round picks, while star true freshman Caleb Downs has a chance to be one of Saban’s best safeties ever.
On the other side, Alabama’s offense has finally found a pulse. Wide receiver Jermaine Burton broke out for 197 yards and two touchdowns last week, while Isaiah Bond remains a reliable intermediate option. Jalen Milroe throws a beautiful deep ball, and Alabama has made it a priority to utilize this strength through Burton and Bond. With defenders in two-high coverage, it opens up the run game and Milroe’s scrambling too. This offense will hardly orchestrate long drives because of Milroe’s inaccurate short to intermediate throws, but they can deliver devastating quick strikes through chunk plays.
Arkansas’ defense isn’t a turnstile, but they have struggled against SEC competition. Over the past three weeks, LSU, Texas A&M, and Ole Miss combined to produce 587 rushing yards on 112 attempts against the Razorbacks, or 5.2 yards per rush. Alabama brings a beefy offensive line to this matchup, and Jalen Milroe’s scrambling is lethal. Meanwhile, running back Jase McClellan ranks 23rd across the nation in PFF’s elusiveness rating (min. 50 attempts). It’s unfortunately a “pick your poison” situation for Arkansas: either commit to stopping the run and allow Milroe to heave bombs without two safeties downfield or death by a thousand paper cuts, which is five to seven yard runs every play.
Overall, the Razorbacks will struggle mightily to move the ball against Alabama’s superb defense, and turnovers may plague them here. Plus, Arkansas’ defense isn’t equipped to neutralize Alabama’s offense and force Milroe into his weaknesses. Look for the Tide to roll here by a comfortable margin.
Arkansas vs. Alabama Prediction: Alabama -16.5 (-157 DK)
Arkansas vs. Alabama Best Odds
Alabama is favored by a massive 19 points, and Arkansas’ +800 moneyline holds an implied probability of about 11 percent. The over under sits at 46.5 total points, which is on the lower side of Saturday games. It’s worth noting that Alabama has won the last sixteen matchups against Arkansas.
Arkansas vs. Alabama Key Matchups
Which team will win these matchups?
Jalen Milroe thrives when he assumes a gun-slinger role taking deep shots, but he routinely sails his short and intermediate throws above his receiver’s head. Therefore, Arkansas’ safeties must play prevent defense and take away Milroe’s strength. If they can force the Alabama quarterback into a lower average depth of target, then the Razorbacks stand a far better chance of forcing a punt.
Arkansas Running Back Raheim Sanders
Sanders possesses tremendous contact balance and speed for a back of his size, so he’s a threat to crack Alabama’s sturdy run defense. KJ Jefferson would benefit from running play action, and Sanders shredding the Tide significantly boosts this threat. If Arkansas can ride Sanders and avoid third and longs, then they have a chance to string together drives.