Bet of the Day – Alabama Crimson Tide at Arkansas Razorbacks, Sept. 25, 2010

Alabama Crimson Tide (-7) at Arkansas Razorbacks (+7), Over/Under 56

Just missed with Yesterday’s bet, San Francisco Giants at Colorado Rockies.  We were 3-1 on Twitter picks yesterday but need a bet of the day win today!  It won’t be easy, the line is tight for the big showdown in Fayetteville, Ark.  The defending national champions visiting Heisman-contending Ryan Mallet and the Razorbacks.  The line is spot on.  It will be an exciting game with big implications for both teams.

Alabama hasn’t been tested yet.  Of course they did shutdown, then #18 Penn State (a game that was over at half). They could have score 100 on Duke and destroyed a San Jose State team the looked better against #11 Wisconsin.  The talking heads are obsessing over Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett and Alabama’s inexperienced secondary.  With all that said, here is an important nugget: Alabama is really good.  How is that for analysis?  Senior QB Greg McElroy leads the Crimson Tide in Fayetteville.  McElroy is averaging 11.75 yards per attempt (YPA) with 6 TDs and 1 INT for a 200.03 QB rating.  Alabama is averaging 8.6 yards per play (YPP) and 12.1 yards per point scored (YPPT) while only allowing 4 YPP and 40 YPPT.  The offensive stats are a bit deceiving.  Considering the number of points they have scored you would think their YPPT is lower; I think this is attributed to their heavy running game.  As with any Nick Saban team, they play good defense and are very athletic.  Their secondary is young but I like that this is their 4th game.   Also, Saban knows how to prepare teams for the big game.

Arkansas went into Athens last week and beat Georgia.  That is a hard thing to do.  Not as hard as it was in 2002 but still difficult.  Arkansas’ QB Ryan Mallet is a big, much-hyped junior averaging 10.81 YPA with 9 TDs and 2 INTs for a 186.5 QB rating.  Alabama held Mallet to 160 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT for a 76.40 QB rating in their 2009 35-7 loss.  The difference.  Alabama had experienced pro-level defensive backs.  Arkansas is averaging 7.7 YPP and 13.7 YPPT while allowing 4.2 YPP and 22.6 YPPT.  Alabama will be better than anything the Razorbacks have seen this year.  But Arkansas is an improving team and playing at home will be a big boost.  Arkansas will need to avoid penalties and turnovers and must play at 100% the entire game.  Alabama likes to jump on teams early and Arkansas has had bouts of team drowsiness (not sure how else to explain their sudden periods of flat play).  Tonight’s game is a major test and could be a big statement for Arkansas.

The Sagarin Ratings have Alabama 93.25 and Arkansas 84.24.  With a 3.01 home advantage, this indicates the fair betting line would be Alabama -6.  Very close to the point spread; too close?

My football model predicts Alabama 32.1 over Arkansas 28.1 for 60.18 total points.  On paper, Alabama;’s ability to run and pass (and manage a game) make them difficult to slow down.  Arkansas has a clear passing advantage.  Both teams have very similar defensive numbers.  Alabama has played a more difficult schedule but Arkansas can score more efficiently (as seen in the last seconds of the Georgia game).  There are two variance contributors that determine the game; Arkansas’ passing and running offense.  This means if Arkansas can’t move the ball to their average, expect a long night for the Razorbacks.

Tough game to call but I think Alabama wins the game.  Here’s why.  Saban and the Tide have big game experience.  Alabama’s offense is grinding and will keep Mallett off the field.  Mallett hasn’t had huge games against his toughest opponents; he needs to prove he can win a game like this. Last, Saban’s Alabama = defense.  They will pressure Mallett and slow down the run.  I am recommending a slightly different betting strategy today for three reasons: 1. I don’t like that the line is stuck on this key number, 2.  I wanted to give everyone a night game but felt I had to cover this game.

I am recommending a 2-team  6.5 point teaser (this is my staple and most profitable type of bet).  Bet Alabama Crimson Tide -7 with Oregon Ducks -11.5 in a 2-team 6.5 point teaser (this will give you Alabama -0.5 and Oregon -5 at -110). Enjoy the afternoon and night game.  Follow me on Twitter for all my picks.  Good Luck!

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