What to Watch For: #1 Alabama Travels to #16 Arkansas in SEC Showdown

"Alabama QB Jalen Hurts and WR ArDarius Stewart during the Crimson Tide's game va Western Kentucky earlier this season." (Credit to Bama Hammer.)
"University of Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen throws a pass during a game last season vs UTEP." (Credit to Whole Hog Sports.)
“University of Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen throws a pass during a game last season vs UTEP.” (Credit to Whole Hog Sports.)

On Saturday, the #1 ranked team in College Football, the Alabama Crimson Tide face off against the #16 ranked Arkansas Razorbacks. The Tide (5-0) are looking to remain in the top spot in College Football, while the Razorbacks (4-1) are looking to knock off the top ranked team in the land.

Arkansas is coming off a 52-10 home win vs Alcorn State a week ago, while Alabama made easy work of Kentucky in a 34-6 victory at Bryant-Denny Stadium last Saturday.

This begins a tough stretch of games for both teams, and both head coaches will want their teams to start off the stretch in a good fashion. Arkansas host Ole Miss next weekend, before traveling to Auburn the following week. Alabama travel to Tennessee next weekend, before hosting Texas A&M on October 22nd.

With a huge SEC showdown on Saturday that features two top head coaches in Bret Bielema and Nick Saban, here are three things to watch in Saturday’s SEC showdown.

1.) For Arkansas to pull the upset, QB Austin Allen will need a strong performance.
RS Sophomore Austin Allen will need a strong performance on Saturday for Arkansas to earn a huge win. In years past, quarterbacks have been needed to put in good performances against Alabama to get the win. Allen, has thrown for 1232 yards and 12 TD’s in five games so far this season. He has thrown only two interceptions so far, and will definitely need to make smart decisions with the ball against a tough Alabama defense. Alabama D.C. Jeremy Pruitt will make sure to blitz Allen frequently to keep the young quarterback off-balance, while also stacking the box to stuff the running game. For Arkansas to upset the Tide at home, look for Allen to have zero turnovers offensively.

2.) Joshua Jacobs must be ready to carry the load.
Heading into the season, a lot of questions were asked about the Alabama rushing attack after the losses of Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake to the N.F.L. Through five games, Alabama has five rushers that have at least 100+ yards, and three with over 200+ yards. With Damien Harris returning from a high-ankle sprain this weekend, Joshua Jacobs must be ready to go for Alabama. Jacobs has been labeled by Nick Saban as “very instinctive”, and has improved each game this season. Jacobs, has tallied 250 yards, a 7.4 Y.P.C.(Yards Per Carry), and three touchdowns so far this season. The freshman has also been a nice addition to the passing attack out of the backfield, for quarterback Jalen Hurts.

3.) Jalen Hurts must be prepared for a tough atmosphere again on the road.
Freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts has been a nice surprise for Nick Saban’s group this season. Hurts has featured for Alabama since their opening game vs U.S.C., and has not looked back. Hurts has thrown for 989 yards, while also adding 276 on the ground through five games. His 10 total touchdowns lead the team, compared to only one interception. After helping Alabama pick up a huge win at Ole Miss on week #3, Hurts’ confidence seems to have grown since his debut appearance on opening day. With big-play receivers Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart at his disposal, Hurts definitely has talent on his side this season.

Overall, this should be a great showdown at 7 p.m. E.S.T. on ESPN. My prediction sees Alabama move to 6-0 after a 28-14 victory on the road in Fayetteville. Jalen Hurts will thrown for two scores, while the Alabama defense led by defensive tackle Johnathan Allen and linebacker Reuben Foster shuts down the Arkansas rushing attack.

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