The storylines for Arkansas/Alabama week are now set.
If you're looking for reasons the Razorbacks might have a chance on Saturday, number one, bolded, underlined, and in italics, is that the Crimson Tide have not played particularly well outside of Tuscaloosa this season. Both the West Virginia and Ole Miss games were very competitive, and obviously they lost in Oxford.
Could Alabama lose two consecutive games or will this just make them angry and focused for Arkansas? Of course the Tide lost two straight games to end the year last year, and the popular narrative was that losing the Iron Bowl was going to piss them off and lead to an obliteration against Oklahoma, so that theory may not hold water. But just because Alabama might not have some extra level of ragey-focus doesn't mean they shouldn't win. Could Arkansas actually snap the 14-game SEC losing streak against Alabama of all people? The thought just seems so far out there, like the same likelihood that a major pop star like Katy Perry would predict the Tide to lose on national TV and then celebrate the win with fans by drinking and partying in local bars all night. It's just too unfathomable.
If the Hogs have any chance, and this I'm sure will make everyone feel better, it likely falls on the Arkansas passing game. Bama's been much more vulnerable through the air than they have been on the ground this season (and in the last couple years, really). Brandon Allen and the Arkansas receivers will have to play the game of their lives. Or maybe this is the week the tight ends finally come alive. But I don't see the Razorbacks being able to run around on the Tide.
Also, Arkansas can't allow Alabama to do things like get away with face masks and return subsequent fumbles for touchdowns. How Ole Miss won despite doing that and missing TWO chances at extra points completely baffles me. That extra point thing in particular just seems like tempting the gods, but they still pulled it off.
I certainly can't see myself predicting a Razorback victory, but I'll give the Hogs a puncher's chance. A big part of why is because the Hogs were off this week while Alabama was slugging it out with Ole Miss all day. Back to back physical road games will wear them down, but enough for the Hogs to take advantage? We'll see.
You can certainly claimed that theory had an effect on the Texas A&M/Mississippi State game. Bret Bielema talked during the week and at least one national reporter mentioned during the game that playing against Arkansas last week while the Bulldogs were on a bye might have put A&M at a big disadvantage. I may be wrong but I thought I heard Bielema on CBS say something quickly about wishing he could take a little credit for the blowout in Starkville, like an assist or something.
Maybe, or does A&M losing that badly make Arkansas look worse? Some people might think so, but I don't buy that. Arkansas was a few brain farts from running all over the Aggies not terribly unlike the Bulldogs did
but Mississippi State is legitimately a very good team. The Razorbacks' trip to Starkville looks like one of the more difficult games left on the schedule right now.
Very glad Arkansas gets Ole Miss at home, and late in the year. Hate that the Rebels get a bye week before coming to Fayetteville though. Their defense is really, really good. Not as sold on their offense yet but they do have a few great weapons. That's the main reason I'd vote for MSU over Ole Miss in the polls right now, if I had to. Both have good defenses but State's offense is better. Dak Prescott will legitimately start appearing on Heisman lists this week.
The LSU game though? Arkansas might actually be favored in that game, which is crazy but makes me very happy. At least the Razorbacks made Auburn work for it. I'm not sure how much of something that is to hang your hat on, but I'll take it.
The week's biggest loser (and there were a lot of them)? Jeff Long. Starting in a few weeks, that dude has to go on TV each week and explain why the selection committee made whatever choices they make. And it's going to be damn near impossible, especially with the SEC West still with some cannibalizing left to do. And with Oregon and Oklahoma losing, the lines are only going to get more blurred. Bless his heart. Wonder if he'll spend much time on the Twitters?