Alabama hits the roadThe Crimson Tide comes into the game 3-1 on the young season following last week's 20-7 win over Southern Miss. Arkansas, playing only its third game of the season, is 2-0 following an open week last weekend.
The Crimson Tide will make its first ESPN appearance of the 2002 season this weekend. Ron Franklin (play-by-play), Mike Gottfried (color) and Dr. Jerry Punch (sidelines) will describe the action to a national cable audience. The game will also be aired on the 80-plus station Crimson Tide Sports Network with Eli Gold (play-by-play) and Kenny Stabler (color analyst) describing the action. Tom Roberts will once again work the sidelines for the network broadcasts.
- Alabama is 44-21-2 (.671) all-time in SEC openers, including a school-record 10-game winning streak dating back to 1991...
- Florida (35-0) is the last team to beat Alabama in its SEC opener (Sept. 14, 1991)...
- This weekend's game features the No. 1 and No. 2 rushing offense and defense in the SEC through four games...
- Arkansas ranks first in rushing offense (262.0) and defense (37.5), while Alabama ranks second in rushing offense (244.2) and defense (61.2)...
- Watts is currently tied with Joe Namath for 10th place on the school's all-time list with 2,714 career passing yards...
- Bama has not won in Fayetteville since a 13-6 decision in 1994...
DefenseThe game will feature a pair of defensive units that are playing extremely well early in the season. Arkansas is the SEC's and the nation's No. 1 rushing defense, allowing just 37.5 yards per game, while the Tide's defensive front is second in the SEC and No. 5 nationally, allowing just 61.2 yards on the ground. Alabama is second in the SEC in total defense and 6th nationally, allowing just 238.5 yards per game. Arkansas is third in the SEC and tied for 10th in NCAA stats, giving-up 254.0 total yards per game.
The Head CoachesAlabama head coach Dennis Franchione is in his second season with the Crimson Tide and needs just two victories to join an elite college coaching group with 150 career wins. Currently, there are only six active coaches with 150 or more career wins and Franchione is two wins shy of that mark with 148.
In his first season, Coach Fran led Alabama to a 7-5 record, including a win over Iowa State in the Mainstay Independence Bowl. He is 10-6 (.600) in his tenure with the Crimson Tide. Overall, Franchione is in his 20th season as a head coach and has compiled a 148-71-2 (.674) lifetime ledger at Southwestern (Kansas) College, Pittsburg State, Southwest Texas State, New Mexico, TCU and Alabama.
Houston Nutt is in his fifth season at Arkansas and has compiled a 32-18 mark. He is 68-40 in his 10-year head coaching career.
Alabama/Arkansas SeriesAlabama holds a 7-5 series lead over Arkansas in a series that dates back to the Jan. 1, 1962 Sugar Bowl. Alabama actually has eight series wins over Arkansas, but the 1993 victory (43-3) at Tuscaloosa was later forfeited by NCAA sanctions.
The first three times the Crimson Tide and Razorbacks squared off, Alabama won the game and eventually the national championship. The 1962 Sugar Bowl win clinched Coach Paul Bryant's first of six national titles. In the 1980 Sugar Bowl, the Crimson Tide beat the Hogs, for Bryant's sixth and final national title at Alabama. In 1992, Gene Stallings led Alabama to a 38-11 win over the Razorbacks in Little Rock and the consensus national championship as the Tide celebrated its 100th year of football.
Since 1995, Arkansas has won four of the seven meetings with Alabama, including a 28-21 win here in Fayetteville in 2000. The Crimson Tide rebounded with a 31-10 last year over the Hogs in Tuscaloosa, scoring 14 defensive points.
Alabama/Arkansas series results
- 1962: Alabama 10, Arkansas 3 -- Sugar Bowl
- 1980: Alabama 24, Arkansas 9 -- Sugar Bowl
- 1992: Alabama 38, Arkansas 11 -- Little Rock
- **1993: Alabama 43, Arkansas 3 -- Tuscaloosa
- 1994: Alabama 13, Arkansas 6 -- Fayetteville
- 1995: Arkansas 20, Alabama 19 -- Tuscaloosa
- 1996: Alabama 17, Arkansas 7 -- Little Rock
- 1997: Arkansas 17, Alabama 16 -- Tuscaloosa
- 1998: Arkansas 42, Alabama 6 -- Fayetteville
- 1999: Alabama 35, Arkansas 28 -- Tuscaloosa
- 2000: Arkansas 28, Alabama 21 -- Fayetteville
- 2001: Alabama 31, Arkansas 10 -- Tuscaloosa
Home, not-so-sweet homeThe home team is 4-6 (.500) in the Alabama-Arkansas series since its inception in 1992. The home team has won the last four meetings in the series after beginning with an 0-6 ledger in the first six series games. The Crimson Tide has posted a 3-2 (.600) record against the Razorbacks, but has lost its last two visits to Fayetteville (1998 and 2000). The Hogs are also 3-2 (.600) on its road against the Crimson Tide, losing its last two trips to Tuscaloosa (1999 and 2001).
Alabama/Arkansas series notes
- Arkansas is 25-3 (.893) at home under Coach Houston Nutt. The Razorbacks are 12-0 in Little Rock and 13-3 (.813) in Fayetteville since Nutt's arrival in 1998. The Razorbacks have won eight straight home games, dating back to last season's 13-3 setback to Tennessee in Fayetteville. The Hogs are 2-0 at home this season. In addition, Arkansas opened with 15 consecutive home wins in the Nutt era before dropping a 38-7 decision to Georgia in 2000.
- There are no players from the state of Arkansas on the Alabama roster.
- Arkansas has four players on its 2002 football roster from the state of Alabama, including redshirt freshman linebacker Pierre Brown (Birmingham, Shades Valley HS), freshman quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (Montgomery, Sidney Lanier HS), redshirt freshman linebacker Michael Robinson (Birmingham, Jackson-Olin HS) and freshman offensive tackle Zac Tubbs (Cullman, Cullman HS).
- Brown, listed as the backup "stinger" linebacker on the Arkansas depth chart, has played in both games this season and is the Razorbacks' fifth-leading tackler with six stops. He has also added one sack (-6) and one QB pressure.
- Jackson, one of four quarterbacks used by the Razorbacks this season, has completed 8 of 15 passes for 78 yards and one touchdown. He also has one interception in his two appearances this season.
- Alabama's Director of Football Operations Charley North is a former assistant coach at Arkansas under Danny Ford. North served as Ford's offensive line coach from 1995-97. In 1995, Arkansas posted an 8-4 record and won the SEC Western Division Championship.
- Arkansas quarterbacks coach David Lee is in his second season with the Razorbacks staff after spending the previous 12 seasons (1989-2000) in the Western Athletic Conference. Lee served as head coach at UTEP (1989-93) and offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Rice (1994-2000). While at Rice, Lee faced Coach Fran three times while Franchione was the head coach at TCU (1998-2000).
- Arkansas offensive line coach Mike Markuson has had one coaching stint in the state of Alabama. In 1991-92, Markuson was an assistant coach at Alabama A&M, where he was the offensive coordinator (1992) and o-line coach (1991-92).
- Arkansas tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator George Pugh is an Alabama native and football letterman with the Crimson Tide. Pugh, who attended Sidney Lanier HS in Montgomery, later starred with the Crimson Tide (1972-75), where he was a member of the three SEC championship teams and one national championship squad. He played in four consecutive bowl games, including Cotton (1973), Sugar (1973), Orange (1975) and Sugar (1975).
- Arkansas' Director of Football Operations Louis Campbell is a former Crimson Tide assistant coach. Campbell was a graduate assistant at Alabama under Paul Bryant from 1973-74. Campbell was then promoted to secondary coach for the 1975-76 seasons. After a three-year stint at SMU (1977-79), Campbell returned to Alabama to coach the defensive backs from 1980-84.
- The Alabama-Arkansas game will be televised for the 12th time overall and the 10th year in row this weekend from Fayetteville. Only the 1992 game in Little Rock failed to be televised in this series. ESPN cameras will telecast the game to a national audience this season, marking their first telecast of an Alabama-Arkansas game.
Game captainsGame captains for the Arkansas game are Theo Sanders (W-Back) and Alonzo Ephraim (center) on offense and Jarret Johnson (tackle) and Kindal Moorehead (tackle) on defense.
Matchup features league's best ground attacksThe Alabama-Arkansas game will feature the SEC's two best rushing teams this season. Arkansas enters the game with the best rushing mark in the SEC, averaging 262.0 yards per game in wins over Boise State and South Florida. Alabama is second in the SEC with a 244.2 yard per game rushing average. Both teams rank among the Top 10 nationally. The Razorbacks are 6th, while the Crimson Tide ranks 9th in the latest NCAA rankings.
The Crimson Tide has 10 rushing touchdowns this season. Only Florida (13) and Auburn (11) have more TDs on the ground this season than Alabama.
Father timeThis week's game also features the SEC's two best teams in terms of time of possession. Arkansas averages 35:55 TOP to lead the league, while Alabama is second with 34:54 TOP. The Crimson Tide is coming off its best game of the season, holding the ball for 39:11 in its 20-7 win over Southern Miss. Alabama also had the ball 36:44 seconds in a 37-27 loss to No. 2 Oklahoma.
They play defense, tooIn addition to being two pretty good offensive teams, both Alabama and Arkansas can play defense, too. The Crimson Tide and Razorbacks rank among the nation's Top 10 teams in rushing defense and total defense heading into Saturday's showdown.
Arkansas has the nation's best defense against the run, allowing only 37.5 yards per game. Alabama ranks second in the SEC and fifth nationally, allowing only 61.2 rushing yards per game.
Alabama ranks fourth in the SEC defensive passing stats, allowing 177.2 yards per game. The Crimson Tide ranks 32nd nationally. On the other side, Arkansas is 11th in the league in pass defense (216.5 yards per game) and 68th nationally.
In terms of total defense, Alabama and Arkansas rank among the nation's Top 10 teams. Alabama is second in the SEC and 6th in the NCAA, allowing only 238.5 yards per game. Arkansas is third in the SEC and 10th nationally, allowing 254 yards per game.
Bama plays third straight night gameThe Arkansas game will mark Alabama's third consecutive night game this season. The last time the Crimson Tide played three consecutive night games was the 1999 season when UA closed its slate under the lights against Auburn, Florida (SEC Championship Game) and Michigan (Orange Bowl).
Prior to this year, the last time Alabama played three straight regular-season night games was 1991 when the slate included games under the lights with Florida, Georgia and Vanderbilt.
- The Crimson Tide did not play its first game night game until the 1940 season.
- The 2002 season marks the 16th time that Alabama has played three consecutive night games, but only the third time since 1974.