Rusty Costanza/Associated Press
Alabama head coach Nick Saban
Once the 2014 season starts, it will have been eight years since the Razorbacks have beaten the Alabama Crimson Tide. That's a long time by college football standards, but it seems like it's been ages.
The last two meetings haven't even been remotely competitive, with Alabama outscoring the Hogs, 104-0. Ouch indeed. Even coming within two touchdowns would probably suffice with most fans after the pure, unadulterated beating the Crimson Tide have put on Arkansas the last two years.
Just like Georgia and LSU, Alabama head coach Nick Saban has the monumental task of replacing quarterback AJ McCarron, who won two national championships as the starter. Also just like Georgia and LSU, a huge key for the Hogs will be containing Alabama's ground attack.
Though McCarron is gone, the Crimson Tide are loaded at running back with T.J. Yeldon, Kenyan Drake, Derrick Henry and Little Rock native Altee Tenpenny. Arkansas was absolutely demolished by Alabama's run game in 2013, allowing a total of 352 yards and two 100-yard rushers with Yeldon also nearly breaking the century mark.
If the Razorbacks are going to have any chance of pulling off the upset, they must do better in the trenches and not allow Alabama's backs to get to the second level.
However, perhaps the biggest factor for an Arkansas win, or just keeping it competitive, will be the Hogs' offense. They mustered a mere 393 yards in the last two meetings combined, with 256 in 2013 and 137 2012. Arkansas' passing game is far from where Bielema wants it to be, and there won't be one if the Hogs can't establish the run game.
Alabama's defense is in the top five nationally year in and year out, and it has stymied the Hogs on the ground. Their lack of success running the ball has allowed the Crimson Tide to completely shut down the passing attack. Factor that in with the Hogs' inability to slow down Alabama's rush attack, which has opened up receivers, and the score, 104-0, in the last two meetings is understandable.
As long as Saban is running things in Tuscaloosa, playing the Crimson Tide is going to be one of Arkansas' toughest games every year.