Alabama and Arkansas get at it on Saturday in Fayetteville, and on one side, you have Bobby Petrino and his Ryan Mallett-led aerial attack, and on the other, you have Alabama, a team that might have the most explosive running back tandem, maybe ever. Of course, Alabama, with Greg McElroy and Julio Jones, can pass the ball just fine, and Nick Saban isn’t afraid to use it, either.
The Tide isn’t as prolific as Arkansas with the pass, but with Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram on the roster — who looks like he’s right back into Heisman form after missing two games because of knee surgery — heavy reliance on the pass by Alabama would be foolhardy.
Conversely, Arkansas uses the running game to set up their dangerous passing attack, and when you have the nation’s leader in passing yards — Mallett (who also has 9 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions and a QB rating of 186.5) — and three legitimate receiving threats in Greg Childs, Joe Adams, and D.J. Williams, it would be foolish not to throw the ball downfield. Clearly, the Petrino/Mallett marriage is a match made in heaven.
Here’s what we can expect out of both teams. First off, Arkansas:
As for Alabama:
The video starts at the 1:11 mark, but if you want an idea of their passing game, rewind it.
As for Saturday’s game, can either team take away what the other wants to do on offense? Can Bama stop Ryan Mallett from throwing the ball all over the field? Can Arkansas stop Bama’s two dynamic running backs and get their offense back on the field? That’ll be the real trick, because the Tide have questions in their secondary. As for Arkansas, they’ve done well against the rush so far this season, but then again, they haven’t been up against one as powerful as Alabama’s either.
Saturday will be a true test for the Razorbacks, obviously, but if they commit too much to stopping the run, McElroy and Jones will make them pay for it.
Other areas of interest are the fans. Both teams are pretty damn awesome supporters. Observe:
Got to get them started early.
And then there’s the “Ryan Mallett for Heisman” ditty we featured earlier this week, made, of course, by Arkansas fans:
Pure, unadulterated fan brilliance.
With that in mind, who wins? Arkansas gets a nod for being at home, but then again, Alabama is road-tested, battle-tested and test-tested (just to cover all “tested” bases), so it’s hard to see them wilting in the face of a loud opposing crowd. My pick:
Guesses such as final scores are subject to change at any moment and without notification.