Alabama and Arkansas meet in the fourth week of the season this year and there is no reason to think that it won’t be just as great as last year’s classic. Both teams should have no problems coming in at 3-0; especially Arkansas who opens the season with Missouri State, New Mexico and Troy. Alabama may have a little more trouble since they have to travel to Happy Valley to face Penn State in week 2 but the Tide should be heavily favored even in that early test.
Arkansas starts out the season at #14 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and Alabama will come in at #2. If each team can gets wins in their first three games, as expected, there is the possibility that this could be a Top 10 matchup if a few teams lose in front of the Hogs early on. Some top teams do have early tests, like LSU facing Oregon, Georgia facing Boise State and Oklahoma at Florida State, so the potential is there for some early movement in the top 25.
It’s well documented that Arkansas lost their top RB, Knile Davis for the season with an ankle injury but as you read here, the Hogs still have playmakers at the RB position without him. Tyler Wilson showed last year against eventual National Champion Auburn, that he is more than capable of taking over the offense from Ryan Mallett and odds are the Hogs will still have one of the top producing offenses in the SEC this season. And they’ll need it in this one.
Alabama comes in with what is considered one of the top 2 defensive units in the conference, having four first team defensive players on the coaches Preseason All-Conference team in Mark Barron, Josh Chapman, Robert Lester and Dont’a Hightower. The unit is experienced and guys like Courtney Upshaw will more than likely try and rattle Wilson, much as they did Ryan Mallett a year ago.
With the game being in Tuscaloosa this year, look for the Tide’s defense to have the edge over Arkansas’ somewhat untested offense but don’t be surprised if this one comes down to the wire just like last year.