The Alabama Crimson Tide are still the No. 1 show NCAA football betting show, so when backup Blake Barnett up and left the program, it was as inconsequential as when Shelly Long left Cheers. As usual, the top sportsbooks favor the Tide on their next road trip at No. 16 Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday, October 8th, and here are the odds:
Alabama -14 (-110) -575
Arkansas +14 (-110) +438
It’s no longer Shake n’ Blake at Alabama. Now it’s Magic Man and El Diablo. Or rather, Jalen Hurts and Calvin Ridley. Bama starting QB Hurts threw 20 of 33 for 262 yards with two third-quarter TD passes to wide receiver Ridley – who had 174 yards on 11 receptions – in the Tide’s 34-6 rout of the Kentucky Wildcats. Additionally, rushing back Joshua Jacobs ran for 100 yards on 16 carries with one score. On defense, Alabama had four sacks, and defensive back returned a fumble – forced by LB Rashaan Evans – 55 yards for a non-offensive TD. And in what may or may not have been a slight directed at Barnett, current backup Cooper Bateman even got to play. That transfer must seem like a half-Blaked idea now more than ever.
The Razorbacks had a stopgap between games against ranked teams with neutral site 52-10 win over the Alcorn State Braves. Arkansas QB Austin Allen threw 13 of 18 for 206 yards and two TD passes to wide receiver Jared Cornelius and another to La’Michael Pettway. Running backs Devwah Whaley, Cody Hollister, and T.J. Hammonds also scored rushing touchdowns. Safety Henre' Toliver returned an interception 70 yards for another score. Whaley ran a career-high 135 yards on nine carries, and Rawleigh Williams had 126 rushing yards on 13 carries. It wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies, though; the Razorbacks did not score in the second quarter, and the Braves go the defense in trouble at some points.
Arkansas lived up to its status as NCAA football betting favorite against Alcorn, but there are still a few concerns heading into Saturday because, as they say, there is always room for improvement – and because you want to be in tip-top shape whenever you face the No. 1 ranked team in the country. No one knows that better than the Razorbacks, who came close to upsetting the Tide in 2014, and head coach Bret Bielema will be eager to prove that his team can hang with the big SEC boys.
As for the Roll Tide, as NCAA football betting fans like to say, don’t fix it if it ain’t broke. On offense, Hurts is playing almost like a pro, and wide receiver ArDarius Stewart may be back this week to complement Ridley. And on defense, Bama is yielding only 256.4 yards and 13 points per game, and LB Reuben Foster has 35 tackles so far this season. The Razorbacks are going to need Williams to bring his A game, while DLs Deatrich Wise Jr. and Jeremiah ‘Yellow’ Ledbetter will have bridge the gaps so that LBs Brooks Ellis and Dre Greenlaw can have a chance to keep Alabama’s running backs from attaining second and third levels.