Saturday, December 12, 2020, Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, Arkansas, noon. ET
Crimson Tide at Razorbacks Betting Preview: Crimson Tide (-31), Razorbacks (+31)
No. 1 Alabama will be going for its seventh Southeastern Conference title under coach Nick Saban when it meets Florida in the league’s championship game on Dec. 19, but first the Crimson Tide (9-0, 9-0 SEC) has business to tend to at Arkansas.
The Tide will arrive in Fayetteville with the SEC’s highest-scoring offense (49.2 points per game), toughest defense (18.3 ppg) and a plethora of major college football award candidates on both sides of the ball.
Quarterback Mac Jones (75.7 completion percentage, 27 touchdown passes, 345.9 average passing per game), running back Najee Harris (20 touchdowns, 115.3 rushing yards per game), and wide receiver DeVonta Smith (80 receptions, 1,305 yards, 15 touchdowns) highlight the offense.
But the backbone of the group has been one of the most consistent offensive lines in college football this season anchored by Outland Trophy semifinalists Landon Dickerson at center and Alex Leatherwood at left tackle. The group has only allowed seven sacks while Jones is playing.
On defense, cornerback Patrick Surtain is a Thorpe Award semifinalist and freshman Malachi Moore leads the team with three interceptions.
“Their offense is incredible,” Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said. “They can do it all. They can run. They can pass protect. They get out on toss sweeps. And their defense is the same as it always has been. Teams are running up-tempo things and getting a few more yards than they have in the past, but they’re outstanding.”
Despite the seemingly lopsided advantage, Saban warned against looking past the Razorbacks, who lead the conference in turnover margin (plus-8) and are tied for the most interceptions (13).
“They present some unique challenges with the fastball offense they run,” Saban said. “We need to respect their team. They’re capable of beating anybody and they’ve demonstrated them all year long.”
Arkansas (3-6, 3-6 SEC) is coming off a heartbreaking, 50-48 loss to Missouri that ended with Harrison Mevis’ fifth field goal of the game for the Tigers — a 32-yarder as time expired. The Razorbacks let a 14-point fourth quarter lead slip away and gave up 633 total yards, losing the game despite gaining 566 yards on offense and scoring seven touchdowns.
Against Missouri, Razorbacks’ freshman quarterback KJ Jefferson made his first career start with Feleipe Franks out with a rib injury. Jefferson went 18-of-33 passing for 274 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for 32 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
Jefferson’s top target was wide receiver Treylon Burks, who caught 10 passes for 206 yards and a touchdown against Missouri. He is one of four receivers in the SEC averaging 100 or more yards per game.
Jefferson might get another chance with Franks still questionable.
The Hogs’ hopes of slowing Alabama’s seemingly unstoppable offense will take a hit if Montaric Brown (six passes defended, one interception) and linebacker Grant Morgan are not able to play because of injuries. Brown (undisclosed) is credited with six passes defended and one interception. Morgan (knee) is the Hogs’ leading tackler with 111 stops.
Cornerback Hudson Clark and safety Jalen Catalon each have three interceptions for the Razorbacks,
Crimson Tide at Razorbacks Betting Pick for December 12, 2020
The Tide has dominated the series by a 23-7 margin that includes an 8-4 advantage in games played at Fayetteville. The Tide’s 48-7 rout last year in Tuscaloosa was their 13th consecutive win in the series, and they won the last meeting in Fayetteville 65-31 in 2018.
Crimson Tide at Razorbacks Betting Pick:
Crimson Tide 52, Razorbacks 14
Crimson Tide at Razorbacks Best Bet for December 12, 2020
The Tide enjoys a big edge in the numbers with a 48.5-28.2 advantage in scoring and 18.5-33 cushion in scoring defense. The Tide has averaged 535.6 yards a game in total offense to 414.1 for the Razorbacks, who gave up 50 points and 653 yards in a 2-point loss to Missouri last week.
Crimson Tide at Razorbacks Best Bet: UNDER 68.5