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THREE KEYS: ALABAMA VS. ARKANSAS

Texas A&M stayed in the game with the Crimson Tide without ever really looking like a threat to win. The Aggies are in the conversation as the fourth best team in the SEC, so that says something about Alabama’s domination. Up next is Arkansas, who are fresh off of a brutal loss against South Carolina.

Here are the three keys to this one:

Feel the fire

The last time Alabama felt like they were being slighted it was bad news for their next opponents. The Crimson Tide allowed 23 points in a 41-23 win over Colorado State, before outscoring Vanderbilt and Mississippi 125-3 over the next two games. In that instance, the cries were louder that the Tide were overrated and vulnerable, but Nick Saban seems to have the same mindset that he had in the week leading up to the game against the Commodores and that is bad news for Arkansas.

This Crimson Tide team is getting back to full health and it can be argued that it is now the deepest squad Saban has ever had in Tuscaloosa. When you think of the National Titles and SEC domination that is a crazy statement, but the two-deep here could be combined in any way you like and the Razorbacks would be in big, big trouble.

Stop the running game

Sometimes in college football, you get a matchup where you just feel sorry for one of the teams involved. This week that matchup would be the Arkansas running game against the Alabama rushing defense.

Arkansas has been bad running the ball this year. Their backs don’t look explosive, the line is getting no push, and the play calling isn’t helping out as it should. Last weekend they rushed the ball 32 times against South Carolina for just 106 yards. Now they have to try to get some semblance of a ground game going against an Alabama defensive front that is allowing just 2.6 yards per rush.

Look for Alabama to stomp out the run early here. If Arkansas gets yardage on the ground it will either be in chunk plays or in garbage time with the contest long since over.

Continue to dominate defensively on third down

Alabama’s defense has been outstanding in 2017. There are many ways to be a great defense, and one is to make sure that it is almost impossible for your opponent to convert on third down.

If we take out the Colorado State game as an aberration – which it was – then the Crimson Tide defense has allowed just 11 conversions on 61 third-down attempts this season. The works out to right around 18 percent as a conversion rate.  Alabama is forcing the other team into third and long more often than not, then using its active defense to deny the conversion. When you add in that the Crimson Tide has forced 34 three-and-outs so far this year it is easy to see why the defense has been so strong.



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