The No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide have a 2-1 spread record, giving up 18 points in their first three wins combined. They begin SEC play in a home battle against the No. 12 Arkansas Razorbacks, who have notched 47 PPG en route to a 2-1 ATS mark.

Sportsbooks opened Alabama as a 14-point favorite, with early wagers on Arkansas driving the number south two points to 12. College football odds makers first set the ‘total’ at 49 ½, followed by lifting it to 50 ½ after initial betting action on the ‘over.’ 

Tide defense notches shutout 

AJ McCarron

The Alabama Crimson Tide cruised to a 41-0 win in last Saturday’s contest against North Texas, falling just shy of covering ATS as a 47-point home favorite. The Crimson Tide piled in 586 total yards, while moving the chains for 25 first downs in their 28 minutes of possession. 

Crimson Tide running backs Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy united for five touchdowns, combining for 328 rushing yards on 20 carries. The backfield mates helped Alabama go 6-for-11 in third down conversions. 

Alabama’s A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims both saw action under center, completing a combined 21-of-29 passes. Wide out Kenny Bell and tight end Brady Smelley took in four catches each, uniting for 101 receiving yards. 

The contest’s 41 points plunged ‘under’ the ‘total’ of 58. Alabama’s defense held North Texas to 169 total yards, allowing 5-of-17 third-down conversions.

Arkansas edges out Troy looking ahead

The Arkansas Razorbacks saw last Saturday’s commanding 24-0 lead against the Troy Trojans turn into a 38-28 win, failing to cover as 23-point home favorites. Arkansas recorded three turnovers, including an interception from quarterback Tyler Wilson being returned 53 yards for a touchdown by Troy’s LaDarrius Madden.

Wilson connected on 23-of-36 passes for 303 yards, while guiding his squad’s offense to 26 first downs. The 22-year-old found wide out Joe Adams for a team-high eight catches, including one touchdown. 

Arkansas’ Ronnie Wingo dashed for 109 yards in 20 carries from the backfield. The junior ran in two touchdowns, while adding a third with a six-yard reception. 

The Razorbacks’ defense was lit up for 457 total yards, allowing all three of Troy’s offensive touchdowns through the air. Arkansas was penetrated for 22 first downs by Troy, including a sizable 10 from the Trojans’ 24 conversion attempts on third and fourth down. 

The duel’s combined 66 points leaped above the ‘total’ of 61. ‘Over’ tickets cashed thanks to the Razorbacks allowing a touchdown catch by Troy’s Eric Thomas with 28 seconds remaining. 

Roll with the Tide as home ‘chalk’ 

Tyler WilsonSaturday’s kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. (ET). The weather forecast in Tuscaloosa calls for a sunny high of 81 degrees, with calm winds. 

In this college football free pick I am backing Alabama as the home ‘chalk,’ looking for the Crimson Tide to win big as they did in 2009’s 35-7 victory as 17 ½-point home favorites against Arkansas.

The Crimson Tide defense has had some of the nation’s highest marks, allowing just 170 YPG. Arkansas’ offensive numbers in its ‘cupcake’ outings thus far should be brought to a big halt as its crew steps up in class. 

Alabama’s Robert Lester grabbed two interceptions in last year’s 24-20 road win for the Crimson Tide at Arkansas. Lester and Co. held the Razorbacks to just 2-of-10 third-down conversions, while Arkansas found itself giving up 17 unanswered points to blow a 20-7 lead. 

Look for Alabama to avoid an early hole this time around, continuing to dominate the gridiron and cover the double-digit number here. The Crimson Tide are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 home games and are in top form to shut down a Top-15 foe with another blowout at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

My Pick: Alabama to cover