One look at the injury/inactive report for Alabama's Citrus Bowl matchup against Michigan tells the tale: The Wolverines will be without a total of three players; the Crimson Tide is missing 13.
At some point, statistical anomalies are no longer that. They become trends. The one freshest on the mind of Alabama fans (besides maybe the trend of need-to-make field goals bouncing off uprights) is how Nick Saban is now 0-4 against Auburn when Auburn is good.
Are the Razorbacks one of the better teams in the SEC? A flat no. Arkansas, if everything went right, would have trouble achieving a winning record in 2019. But the Razorbacks are certainly better than the record they've managed to post. Arkansas is 2-5, and with few prospects for potential wins on the horizon. Its best chances come against either Western Kentucky (although the Hilltoppers are 5-2) and Mississippi State. In all its other games, the Razorbacks will be double-digit underdogs and probably 20-plus-point underdogs, or even more.
As word broke Tuesday that Alabama would basically be without its running back group for the first half of Saturday's game against the Duke Blue Devils, there was concern that David Cutcliffe's band of upset specialists might be able to do the impossible against the best team in college football.
If you were a child of the 1980s and 1990s, Southern Miss was as much a regular part of Alabama's schedule as was Tennessee or Auburn. Things have changed somewhat in the 21st Century, and the Golden Eagles now make infrequent trips to Tuscaloosa, just frequent enough to bring out the nostalgia of names like Curley Hallman and Brett Favre and Reggie Collier.
It's a new day for Alabama – somewhat. Nick Saban has brought back one-time, one-game offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian to oversee what many believe will be a return to the offense of 2017, based more in power and vertical passing than last year's RPO-heavy, spread-forward attack. The RPOs will still be here, and so will the spread elements and the option elements, but Alabama football's identity is tough defense and a downhill running game. It wasn't lost on Saban that Clemson took the physical fight to Alabama in the College Football Championship – and won.
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Whether it's breathless, first-game Heisman hype for Auburn QB Bo Nix, or how a large chunk of national pundits got behind the idea of Texas A&M-as-championship-contender, it doesn't take more than just a reasonably astute college football fan to be able to spot a red herring when one swims by. In the case of Nix, part of the reason for identifying him as an early Heisman contender was the abject panic many writers feel when faced with trying to identify someone – anyone – besides Tua Tagovailoa who is deserving of the award.
Arkansas: Now the question is the same for Morris as it was for Bielema, Houston Nutt and countless others at Arkansas: Can he recruit well enough to be competitive in the cutthroat SEC West? Auburn: Basically, the fate of the 2019 Auburn Tigers comes down to the quarterback. LSU: With the exception of Alabama, no team in the SEC West looks better than this one, or at least not more complete.