Tide Best Where It Matters In Stats

Saturday is the first Southeastern Conference game of the year for the Alabama football team. Both Bama and Arkansas have played two very easy games and one game each against teams that are uncharacteristically weak. Both the Crimson Tide and the Razorbacks are 3-0 and ranked in the nation's top 10.

Alabama, ranked first in the nation, will play Arkansas, ranked 10th, at 2:30 p.m. CDT Saturday in Fayetteville. CBS will televise the game.

Alabama has romped over San Jose State and Duke and was a solid winner over Penn State, which was ranked 14th in the nation at the time the Tide and Lions played. Arkansas has punished Tennessee Tech and Louisiana Monroe and last week had a magnificent finish to defeat Georgia in Athens, 31-24.

Although a cursory glimpse of team statistics after three games would indicate a defensive battle brewing, both sides have too many offensive weapons to expect that result.

In the statistics that matter most – scoring and scoring defense – Alabama is best in the SEC on both sides. Bama is averaging 44.7 points per game and allowing only 6.3 points per outing. Arkansas is third in scoring, 35.3 points per game, and second in scoring defense, 11.3 points per contest.

Alabama has had Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram back for just one game, but the Tide ranks second in the league in rushing at 250.7 yards per game and first in the conference in yards per carry at 6.8. Arkansas is last in the league in rushing offense, only 116 yards per game. The Razorbacks rank higher than Alabama in rushing defense. The Hogs are fifth in the league, allowing 111.3 yards per game, while Alabama is seventh in the conference, giving up 120.7.

The Razorbacks and Bama rank one-two in passing offense. Arkansas averages 367.7 yards per game, Alabama 291.3. In pass defense, Alabama is second in the league, allowing 132.7, while Arkansas is third, giving up 144.3. Alabama is also second in pass efficiency, with the Razorbacks fourth. In pass efficiency defense, Alabama is first, the Hogs sixth.

Alabama is best in the conference both in total offense and total defense. Bama averages 542 yards per game and allows 253.3. Arkansas is third in offense at 483.7, second in defense, 255.7.

There are three areas considered by coaches to be particularly meaningful statistics.

In turnover margin, Alabama ranks fifth in the league at plus one and Arkansas is ninth at minus three. The Tide has picked off five interceptions, allowed one, and recovered one fumble, but lost four. Arkansas gained one fumble and two interceptions, lost three fumbles and three interceptions.

On third downs, Alabama is fourth in efficiency, 12-26 for 46.2 per cent, and third in defensive success, allowing 13-46 for 28.3 per cent. Arkansas is sixth in conversions, 15-34 for 44.1 per cent and fourth in defense, allowing 13-44 for 29.5 per cent.

In the Red Zone (inside the 20), Arkansas is one of four SEC teams that has been perfect going in, 10-10, nine touchdowns and a field goal. Alabama is seventh in Red Zone success, 13-15 (10 touchdowns, three field goals) for 86.7 per cent. On defense in the Red Zone, Alabama is second, having allowed 4-6, one touchdown and three field goals. (One field goal allowed by Bama was outside the Red Zone.) Arkansas is tied for ninth (and last) in the league in Red Zone defense, allowing 4-4 scores, three touchdowns and a field goal.

Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett leads the SEC (and the nation) in passing with 360.3 yards per game with Bama's Greg McElroy a distant second at 235 yards per game. McElroy is first in the league (and the nation) in passing efficiency. Mallett is third. Arkansas wide receiver Joe Adams is first in the league in yards receiving, with Razorbacks Greg Childs fourth and D.J. Williams eighth. Bama's Julio Jones is fifth and Darius Hanks ninth.

Bama's Trent Richardson is seventh in the SEC in rushing. (Ingram would be leading, but he is not yet eligibile for consideration in the statistics because he has only nine carries. Arkansas does not have a rusher in the top ten.

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