Statistically, Tide Has Advantage

Although Alabama and Arkansas are in the same division (West) of the same conference (Southeastern) and it is halfway through the regular season, the Crimson Tide and Razorbacks thus far have only one opponent in common. Bama barely got past Texas A&M (49-42), and the Aggies were able to slip past Arkansas (45-33).

So what does it mean to compare the season statistics of Alabama and Arkansas? About the same as if they had played several common opponents or none, meaning probably not much. Nevertheless, it is not unusual for the team that has been statistically the best to also be the best on the field.

The Crimson Tide and Razorbacks will determine best on the field at 6 p.m. CDT Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. ESPN will televise the game. Bama is 6-0 overall and 3-0 in SEC games and ranked first in the nation in all polls. Arkansas is 3-4 overall and 0-3 in conference games.

Because teams invest a lot of money in scoreboards at their stadiums, it makes sense to first look at scoring and scoring defense.

Alabama ranks fourth in the conference in scoring at 38.8 points per game, while Arkansas averages 23.3 ppg, 12th in the league. Bama leads the SEC in scoring defense, allowing 11.3 points per game, while the Razorbacks are ninth, giving up 27.6.

The Hogs have been very good at running the football this year, rushing for 216.3 yards per game, fifth in the SEC. The Tide is 10th in rushing, 188.3 yards per game. Alabama, though, is second in the conference in rushing defense, giving up 87.2 yards per game. Arkansas is seventh, allowing 146.3.

In passing offense, Bama is seventh in the SEC at 260.2 yards per game and the Razorbacks are last in the 14-team league, 154.6. In pass defense, the Tide is second, giving up 191 yards per game and Arkansas is seventh, allowing 221.4. In pass efficiency, Bama is fourth, the Hogs 13th. In pass defense efficiency, the Tide is third, the Razorbacks 11th.

Alabama is eighth in total offense with 448.5 yards per game and Arkansas is 12th at 370.9. In total defense, the Tide is second, allowing 278.2 yards per game, the Razorbacks sixth, giving up 367.7.

In special teams statistics, Bama is fifth in the SEC in kickoff returns at 24.5 yards per return, second in punt returns at 14.5, and third in net punting at 40.1. The Hogs are 11th in kickoff returns at 19.3, ninth in punt returns at 5.8, and 10th in net punting at 37.6.

Coaches consider turnover margin to be a key statistics. Alabama is at plus 1, ranking sixth in the SEC, Arkansas at minus 3, ranking 11th. Bama has 7 takeaways (3 fumble recoveries, 4 interceptions) and 6 turnovers (3 fumbles lost, 3 interceptions). The Razorbacks have 8 takeaways (4 fumbles, 4 interceptions) and 11 turnovers (6 fumbles lost, 5 interceptions).

Another key area is Red Zone (inside the opponent 20) production. On offense, Alabama is tied for seventh with 20 scores in 24 possessions (83.3 per cent) as the Tide has scored 16 touchdowns (9 rushing, 7 passing) and been good on 4-5 field goals. The Hogs are tied for ninth at 18-22 for 81.8 per cent with 14 touchdowns (7 rushing, 7 passing) and 4-5 field goals. On defense, Bama has held opponents to 7-10 for 70 per cent and second best in the league, Arkansas 23-27 for 85.2 per cent, ninth in the league.

On third down conversions, Alabama is fifth in making and second in preventing. Arkansas is 11th in making and eighth in preventing. Bama has been good on 35-73 for 47.9 per cent and has held opponents to 22-78 for 28.2 per cent. The Razorbacks have made 36-89 for 40.4 per cent and given up 38-97 for 39.2 per cent.

Although Alabama Coach Nick Saban says that sacks are not critical statistics, be prepared: Arkansas is first in the SEC in sacks (20 for 142 yards) and the Tide is 10th, only 10 for 65 yards. The Razorbacks are second in not allowing sacks, only 5 for 47 yards. The Tide has allowed 7 for 43 yards.

Most coaches discount time of possession as an important statistic because in some games it is important, in other games it is insignificant. Alabama is second, averaging 33:47, Arkansas seventh, averaging 30:20.

Bama has not been as solid on the penalties front this year. Arkansas is seventh in the league with 32 for 303 for 43.3 yards per game. The Tide is 10th with 36 for 289 yards, 48.2 yards per game.

In individual statistics, Christion Jones of Alabama leads the SEC in punt returns with 15 for 187 yards, 12.5 yarfds per return. Arkansas's Chris Smith leads the league in sacks with five solo and two assist for 51 yards.

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