Alabama Crimson Tide vs Arkansas Razorbacks Betting Odds Preview and Pick ColumnistSeptember 12, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 08:  T.J. Yeldon #4 of the Alabama Crimson Tide rushes against Brett Harrington #26 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 8, 2012 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Can the status of one player swing the point spread on the Alabama vs. Arkansas showdown by six points in just a few days?

That's the question being asked in Vegas and handicapping circles after the SEC opener for these bitter rivals opened at -15.5 Sunday but was bet up to -21 at most online shops tracked by by Wednesday.

"The availability of Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson, who did not practice Tuesday, certainly played a role in the giant move, but six points," asked Jack Randall, a football analyst at

The Tide begins its SEC schedule when it takes on a team some thought might give them some problems in the West Division this season, the Arkansas Razorbacks. The game kicks off Saturday afternoon in Fayetteville (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS).

But the early buzz around this game concerns the status of the Arkansas QB and matchup report worries related to the Hogs' response after getting upset by Louisiana-Monroe last week.

Alabama is off to a 2-0 start after whipping Michigan 41-14, then stifling Western Kentucky 35-0. The Tide flexed its muscle against the Wolverines, making a point to poll voters by destroying a ranked team.

Bama then took its foot off the gas against the Hilltoppers Saturday, taking a two-touchdown lead 10 minutes into the game and breezing home from there. 

The Tide covered the spread as 13-point favorites vs. Michigan, but didn't (choose to) cover as 38-point favorites over WKU.

Arkansas, meanwhile, opened its season with a 49-24 win over Jacksonville State. But last week the Hogs blew a 21-point third-quarter lead and lost 34-31 overtime at home to the Warhawks of the Sun Belt Conference.

To make matters worse, Wilson took a blow to the head Saturday, had to leave the game and is listed as doubtful for this Saturday's big game.

With the win Saturday Alabama remained at No. 1 in this week's AP Top 25 poll. But with its shocking defeat, the Razorbacks dropped from No. 8 in the AP poll to the ranks of the unranked.

Alabama has won the last five games in this series. Last year, the Tide used an interception return for a score and a punt return TD to break a 10-7 game into an eventual 38-14 victory. Bama covered as 11-point favorites that day.


Free Pick

 Alabama is rolling, Arkansas is banged up and the Tide has owned the Hogs in the series recently. They are also 5-1 ATS in their past six games as a double-digit favorite, so we lay the wood and take Bama minus the points. (courtesy of