A game that is no doubt on every SEC fan's mind, is when the Alabama Crimson Tide has to face Arkansas on the Razorbacks' own turf. The word on the street is that the kids from Fayetteville are bringing some serious game with them this season, and they aren't here to play around. Alabama's coming off a tremendous 2009-2010 season, with its 13th National Championship title and a whole lot of reputation just waiting to be broken.
Leading the powerful offense of Arkansas is Ryan Mallett, who contended in the Heisman Trophy race last year. He shows up this year looking to do even better than last season, which included over 3,000 passing yards. He is no doubt the man that the Crimson Tide defense will be focusing on the entire time on September 25th.
This will be the second game that Alabama will have to pay very close attention to if they want to preserve their perfect season coming off of last year's success story. One of the biggest worries the fans have is the new defensive line up, which was assembled after the Tide lost more than four key players to the NFL Draft, including linebacker Rolando McClain and defensive tackle Terrance Cody. Putting pressure on the seasoned Mallett will be one of the keys to winning this SEC showdown.
If Alabama loses to Arkansas, it will be an up-hill battle to fight to the SEC Championship game against the winner of the SEC East. The Razorbacks were decent last season, going 8-5, but their talent has only grown since then. Head coach Bobby Petrino is also looking to utilize all of his assets on the offensive side in the hopes of improving Arkansas' running abilities coming into 2010.
Who will win?
Arkansas' day of testing the SEC waters is against the Georgia Bulldogs on September 18th. If they cruise through that game, they might be feeling even more confident against the recent king of the conference, Alabama. They also have 22 offensive players and 18 defensive players returning for the 2010 season, which should help having a seasoned and more mature team coming back for another year.
Alabama faces a lot pressure this year with Nick Saban looking to make it all the way to the BCS National Championship once again. This is Alabama's most important game in making sure their in-conference record stays undefeated. If Alabama can keep its running game on track with Heisman Trophy winning back Mark Ingram, it should be fine if the Arkansas defensive line does not beat him down. Wide receiver Julio Jones has also improved significantly since last year, looking to turn some heads with a break-out year. His counterpart, Marquis Maze, will also be a huge asset when Jones is in double coverage against the Arkansas defensive back field.
The Crimson Tide are favored for the game, coming off of their National Championship win last year against the Texas Longhorns. It is very possible that they could contend in the SEC Championship this year. Some people say there is no doubt that they will. If they want to win this game they are going to have to focus all their efforts on Mallett. There is no question this will be an interesting game for both teams, which could possibly make or break one team's chances for a shot at the SEC Championship.