No. 21 Arkansas (7-3, 3-3 SEC) will travel to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to take on the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (9-1, 5-1 SEC) Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The Hogs are coming off a 16-13 overtime victory over the LSU Tigers, while the Crimson Tide undertook a 59-3 thrashing of the New Mexico State Aggies last Saturday.
The Razorbacks have averaged 30.9 points per game this season under offensive coordinator Kendal Briles. He has utilized the running game well. Arkansas has averaged 233.5 yards per game, the second-most in the Southeastern Conference, and 5.13 yards per carry, the sixth-most in the SEC.
The Crimson Tide offense has been dominant with an SEC-leading 44.6 points per game, and 484.7 yards of total offense per game, the third-most in the conference.
The Hogs will have to limit Alabama's rushing attack Saturday, Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman said.
“We’ve talked to the team about how we’re going to go on runs and Alabama is going to go on runs,” Pittman said on his weekly radio show Wednesday. “And it’s about how fast you can stop the run.”
Sophomore quarterback Bryce Young has been a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy with a completion percentage of 70.9 for 3,025 yards, 33 touchdowns and three interceptions. The Pasadena, California, native boasts an 86.9 quarterback rating, the fourth-best in the nation.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who has led the Crimson Tide to six national championships, said he is impressed with how Pittman has turned around the Razorback program in his second year.
"Sam Pittman has done a fantastic job, I think,” Saban said Monday. “They've probably improved as much from last year to this year as anybody in the country. They've had some great wins over some very good SEC teams and they've got really good players.”
Arkansas sophomore quarterback KJ Jefferson gave a satisfactory performance at LSU, and is 10 passing yards away from 2,000 this season. He has thrown for 17 touchdowns and three interceptions and accumulated a QBR of 72.
Pittman said Alabama’s defense is going to be a big challenge for Arkansas.
“They’re loaded up with talented guys defensively,” Pittman said. “When you think of Alabama, for years you think of their defense because of Nick Saban. You continue to think that. For the fans, Will Anderson is probably as good a rush end as there is in the country.”
The Crimson Tide defense, the fifth-best in the NCAA, is allowing 18.2 points and 290.5 yards per game.
Alabama leads the all-time series 21-8 and holds a 13-game win streak over Arkansas. The last time the Razorbacks took down the Crimson Tide was in 2006, when Arkansas defeated Alabama 24-23 in double overtime in Fayetteville.
Though the odds are stacked against the Hogs, Arkansas linebacker Grant Morgan, who was named a finalist for the Burlsworth Trophy on Tuesday, said he is confident the Hogs can topple the Crimson Tide.
“It is very important to be on one page," Morgan said. "If we have guys who don’t think they can win, then it's obviously going to combat everybody and be like people going against us.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on CBS. Alabama is favored to win by 21 points with the over/under at 57.5, according to College Football News.