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Where: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, Arkansas
It was supposed to be the first “Game of the Year,” but Saturday’s Alabama-Arkansas clash in Fayetteville lost luster last week when the Razorbacks were shockingly upset at home by Louisiana-Monroe. Arkansas, a 30-point favorite, blew a 28-7 lead and lost 34-31 in overtime. The No. 21 Razorbacks also might have lost star quarterback Tyler Wilson, who left the game with a head injury. He had not been cleared to practice or play as of mid-week, but was listed as questionable. The top-ranked Crimson Tide held up their end leading up to this supposed showdown, whipping Michigan and Western Kentucky. Alabama has won four straight in the series, and has an all-time edge of 12-8.
ABOUT ALABAMA (2-0, 0-0 SEC): Quarterback AJ McCarron has thrown 135 passes without an interception. This season, he is 25-of-40 for 418 yards with six touchdowns. Last year, he had a streak of 152 passes without a pick. He operates behind an offensive line featuring three All-Americans. The defense, led by tackle Jesse Williams, safety Robert Lester and shutdown corner Dee Milliner, forced four turnovers in last week’s 35-0 victory over Western Kentucky. Alabama has 43 lettermen from last year’s national championship team.
ABOUT ARKANSAS (1-1, 0-0 SEC): Wilson isn’t Arkansas’ lone health concern. Fullbacks Kiero Small and Kody Walker, and cornerback Tevin Mitchel will miss Saturday’s game with injuries. Players insisted this week they remain 100 percent behind coach John L. Smith, but this is a program in shock after expecting to contend for the national title. If Wilson can’t play, Brandon Allen would get the start, with Brandon Mitchell available, too. Star running back Knile Davis is off to a slow start, averaging 3.9 yards per carry.
1. Alabama has won 20 straight SEC openers.
2. The Crimson Tide have not trailed after the first quarter in their last 16 games, starting with the 2011 Capital One Bowl against Michigan State.
3. Arkansas’ Wilson, a one-time Heisman candidate, hit 11 of 20 throws for 196 yards with two touchdowns and an interception before he was knocked out of last week’s game.