The Hogs enter week 12 with a 7-3 record and ranked 21st in the latest College Football Playoff standings. What can only be described as an ugly win in Baton Rouge last weekend added to the magical season we are experiencing as Razorback fans. This week, the Hogs travel to Tuscaloosa to face the Crimson Tide of Alabama. This Alabama squad does not seem to be as strong as Nick Saban’s recent elite teams.
However, the Tide have a lot to play for with their current no. 2 ranking in the CFP poll. Alabama knows a loss to either Arkansas or Auburn will altogether remove them from playoff contention during the next two weeks. On the other hand, the Hogs are looking to continue their revenge tour and end another long-term losing streakagainst the Tide. Let’s take a look at what the Hogs need to do on all fronts to escape Tuscaloosa with a victory.
The special teams units seem to improve each week. The last few games featured a punt return touchdown and a momentum-swinging fake field goal to gain the Hogs a first down against LSU. Additionally, the lack of penalties and surrendering of big plays proved immense for Arkansas against Mississippi State and LSU. Further, let’s not forget about the performance of Cam Little this season. This weekend, the special teams need to continue their progress and set up the Razorback offense and defensive units for success with every series.
The offense stalled against LSU last weekend. The Tigers brought heavy pressure on KJ Jefferson, which seemed to throw the whole unit for a loop. Arkansas surrendered three sacks and seven tackles for loss against the Tigers. However, Jefferson’s persistence and escape ability arose at the correct times to allow the Hogs a narrow lead in the end. Against Alabama, the Razorback offensive line must pick up the blitz because the Tide is likely to bring equivalent pressure. However, it can be a great day for the Hog offense if Jefferson can hit some quick pass plays to open up the run game.
Since the bye week, the defense has performed well, leading the Hogs to wins against Mississippi State and LSU. It was refreshing to see the Hogs bring pressure of their own against LSU. The Tigers were held to just 108 rushing yards last weekend. Additionally, the pressure resulted in interceptions from Montaric Brown and Myles Slusher. Both Brown and Slusher have stepped up to carry the Razorback secondary since the departure of Jalen Catalon earlier in the season.
The Hogs have recovered four turnovers from opponents in their last two games. Look for the Hogs to continue pressuring to create turnovers during the final two games of the season. Two weeks ago, LSU held Alabama to just six total rushing yards. If the Hogs can mirror LSU’s rush defense and effectively pressure Bryce Young, the defensive momentum will continue rolling for Arkansas.
Saturday’s matchup will be televised at 2:30 pm on CBS. The Hogs and Tide are the premier SEC matchup this week. Both teams are ranked in the top 25 with much left to play for during the final stretch. I think we can expect a physical matchup featuring two outstanding quarterbacks. Let’s enjoy the last few weeks of this season, Razorback fans. Go Hogs!