Arkansas vs. Alabama: Saban's Secondary Not Ready for the Likes of Ryan Mallett

Ashton GilstrapContributor ISeptember 20, 2010

GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 17: Quarterback Ryan Mallett #15 of the Arkansas Razorbacks releases a pass against the Florida Gators October 17, 2009 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

In what is undoubtedly the game of the week, the No. 1 Crimson Tide of Alabama will be traveling to Fayetteville this weekend to square off against the 10th ranked Arkansas Razorbacks.

Alabama is coming off what was truly a shellacking of Duke, as they saw the return of Heisman winner Mark Ingram who had a terrific day.

Arkansas is flying high after a last-minute victory on the road against the struggling Georgia Bulldogs. Mallett connected to Greg Childs with under 30 seconds left for a 40-yard touchdown and the first game-winning drive of his career.

Both teams are undefeated, Top 10 SEC contenders, and they've both had this game circled on their calendar since the preseason. Despite Alabama's No. 1 ranking, however, there is good reason to believe that the Hogs can pull off the upset in Fayetteville this weekend.

That reason's name is Ryan Mallett.

Alabama's defense has thrived under Saban since he took the reins, but the secondary this year is unusually young, and they haven't yet had to face an offense like Petrino's.

The likelihood of a successful Arkansas offensive effort this weekend is further underlined by Petrino's mastery of the playbook, and his ability to dig deep into a seemingly bottomless reservoir of football knowledge to make the right play.

When you're facing an offensive genius like Petrino, this team's offensive potency is reason to be afraid. When you're facing a quarterback like Ryan Mallett, you should be outright terrified.


Mallett is leading the country in passing yards right now, with 1081 yards on 100 attempts. He has 9 touchdowns, and only two interceptions. He legitimized his place in the Heisman race this weekend with his ice cold execution of Georgia in the final minute of the game.

Arkansas is blessed not only with Mallett's howitzer arm, but also with what is arguably the best receiving corps in the nation. Joe Adams, Jarius Wright, and Greg Childs all have the ability to go the distance on any given play. Tight End D.J. Williams is a fantastic pass catcher, as well, and is expected to go in the first round of the draft this year.

Let's face it. Alabama is an outrageously talented football team with an outrageously talented coach and one of the best running backs to ever grace the SEC. Having said this, they haven't exactly squared off against anyone with an offense like Arkansas' yet this year.

This game will be won in the fourth quarter, as so many SEC games are. The Razorbacks have a chip on their shoulder after their poor performance in Tuscaloosa last year, and they wish to add credit to their Top 10 ranking.

This will be a close one, but in the end, I expect Petrino's offense to prove too much for Saban's young secondary, and we will be seeing a whole new picture of the SEC West get painted.

Your comments and predictions and questions are always welcome.

Prediction: Arkansas 31, Alabama 28.

Woo Pig.