Arkansas vs. Alabama Betting Preview

November 16, 2021

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9:30 AM ET Nov 20
Arkansas vs. Alabama
Alabama -20.5
-110
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This is a top-25 matchup without much of the fanfare as No. 2 Alabama hosts No. 21 Arkansas on November 20. The Crimson Tide have been steamrolling opponents since their only loss of the season while the Razorbacks have been clawing their way to victory in the SEC. Arkansas has struggled against the better teams in the league, especially since the beatdown from Georgia that handed the Razorbacks their first loss, and Arkansas is 2-3 against FBS foes since starting the season 4-0.

Arkansas vs. Alabama Betting Pick

The Pick: Alabama -20.5

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This game will be played at Bryant-Denney Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama at 3:30 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, November 20, 2021.

Why bet on the Crimson Tide:

✅ Alabama quarterback Bryce Young has thrown 33 touchdowns, the most by any Power Five quarterback in the country. He also has thrown just three interceptions, the second-fewest total in the country, and he ranks seventh nationally with a 70.9 percent completion percentage this season. Young is also one of just 13 quarterbacks nationally, seven from Power Five schools, averaging more than 300 passing yards per game this season.

✅ Arkansas averages more than 230 rushing yards per game, good for the sixth most in the nation but Alabama ranks third in rushing defense. The Crimson Tide have allowed just one opponent to reach 100 yards rushing in their last seven games, including holding Ole Miss' third-ranked rushing offense to just 78 yards earlier this season. The Razorbacks rank 95th in passing offense and has just two games with more than 250 passing yards this season.

✅ The Crimson Tide lead the nation with a 56.6 percent success rate on third down while Arkansas ranks 88th at 36.8 percent conversion rate. Alabama also rates 13th on third down defensively, allowing less than 32 percent conversion rate this year. 

✅ The Razorbacks are 2-3 against teams with a winning record this season, and have allowed 33 points and 428 yards per game in those five contests. Alabama has played just three games against teams below .500, and the Crimson Tide are averaging nearly 40 points per game in those other seven games against opponents at .500 or better.

✅ Alabama has won the last 14 matchups with Arkansas and nine of those have been decided by at least 21 points, including the last four meetings. 

The Pick: Alabama -20.5

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Arkansas

Arkansas has a dynamic quarterback in K.J. Jefferson who is sure to keep fans on the edge of their seat with his athleticism. Jefferson is a better runner than a passer, but that doesn't mean he can't sling the ball around the field. He has thrown 17 touchdowns passes to just three interceptions, but it is clear he is most dangerous when he's able to be mobile. He's one of four Razorbacks with at least 450 rushing yards this season, part of one of the best rushing attacks in the country.  Jefferson ranks second in yards and touchdowns with 474 yards five rushing scores. Dominique Johnson leads the way with six rushing scores, but Trelon Smith is the Razorbacks' leading rusher with 513 yards. 

When Jefferson is asked to pass, there's a high likelihood he will look Treylon Burks' direction first. Burks leads the Razorbacks with 51 catches for 796 yards and eight touchdowns, well ahead of the next leading receiver. Burks has been a bit quiet recently as Arkansas has focused on running the ball, but he'll have a chance to step up this week. Yet it will take more than Burks to rise to the occasion as just one other receiver has more than 70 yards receiving in a game, which won't cut it against Alabama.

Defensively, it's been a mixed bag for the Razorbacks, though the better teams have had no issue carving up Arkansas' defense. Ole Miss was a classic example of this as it put up more than 600 yards of offense against the Razorbacks, but Auburn had 427 yards and Mississippi State threw for 400 yards against Arkansas. The Razorbacks have been dominant when facing inferior foes, but it is clear the talent has not matched up well to the better teams on the schedule.  

Alabama

Bryce Young is the story of the season for Alabama, continuing the lineage of excellent quarterbacks for the Crimson Tide in recent years. He's thrown for 3,000 yards already this season and has tossed 33 touchdowns to just three interceptions while completing more than 70 percent of his passes. He had a streak of four 300-yard games snapped last week against New Mexico State when he completed 21 of 23 passes for 270 yards in the blowout victory. Young has thrown multiple touchdowns in every game this season and has seven with at least three touchdown passes.

Alabama is used to churning out running backs, but that is not the case this year as much. Brian Robinson Jr. has 14 rushing touchdowns, but is averaging roughly 90 yards per game and just five yards per carry. He's not the dominant back we expect to see from Alabama, but he's playing a major role in bringing some balance to the Crimson Tide offense. Jameson Williams is taking over the mantle as the big-play receiver for the Crimson Tide with 51 catches for 1,028 yards and 10 scores, giving him an average of more than 20 yards per catch. John Metchie III leads the team with 67 catches, but he's gained only 722 yards and scored six times.

It seems to always be about the defense for Alabama, and that is still true this year. However, it is more about how well the Crimson Tide are shutting down the run this season, holding teams to less than 87 yards per game on the ground. Even some of the best rushing teams in the country have been stifled by the Alabama front seven as only two of 10 opponents have even reached 100 yards on the ground. If there is a weakness in this Alabama defense, it is the secondary, which has allowed 14 passing touchdowns this season. It isn't the number as much as both Texas A&M and Tennessee put up three passing touchdowns on this defense, which is still holding teams to just 290 total yards per game.

Josh
Josh Walfish
Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has covered college sports for the past decade. He most-recently was chronicling the UMass Minutemen and now works as a freelancer writer and editor based out of Chicago.