University of Alabama

Alabama football: Closer look at today's game against Arkansas

No. 1 Alabama (3-0, 0-0 SEC) at No. 10 Arkansas (3-0, 1-0), 3:30 p.m. (CBS-3)

Line: Alabama by 7.

Series Record: Alabama leads 10-8.

Last Meeting: 2009, Alabama 35-7.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

In the first matchup of two top 10 teams in Fayetteville since 1979, Arkansas can put itself into this year’s national title race by knocking off defending champion Alabama. The Crimson Tide will go after their fifth straight victory against a top-10 opponent and their first this season after going 4-0 last season.

KEY MATCHUP

Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett vs. Alabama’s new defense. Mallett managed a season-low 160 yards on 12-for-35 passing at Alabama last year, but the Crimson Tide have just two starters back from that dominating defense. A strong performance will boost Mallett, the nation’s No. 3 passer, toward the front of the Heisman Trophy race.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Alabama: DE Marcell Dareus. Alabama has had only two sacks through three games this season. Dareus, who had a team-high 6 1/2 sacks last season, didn’t play in two of those games and could lead the charge as the Tide try to disrupt Mallett.

Arkansas: Can someone in Arkansas’ stable of running backs have a big enough day to take some of the pressure off Mallett in a pass-oriented offense? The Razorbacks haven’t had a 100-yard rusher in their last eight games, and the Tide haven’t allowed one in 37 games.

FACTS & FIGURES

Arkansas is 4-11 against No. 1-ranked teams. … Alabama’s 19 points allowed are the fewest for the team through three games since it yielded only nine to Georgia Tech, Baylor and Vanderbilt to start the 1979 season. … The Tide host No. 9 Florida next week, then play at No. 12 South Carolina. … Ronnie Caveness, a center and linebacker on Arkansas’ 1964 national championship team, will be honored at halftime. He’ll be inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame in December.

— Associated Press

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