Arkansas-Alabama Odds

Tuscaloosa, AL Alabama coach Nick Saban finally saw his team play at a high-intensity level for a full game in last weekend's blowout of a lesser opponent.

With its SEC schedule set to open, Saban's squad is likely going to need the same preparation and execution to get past high-powered Arkansas.

Bet College Football Week 4

The third-ranked Crimson Tide look to take their first step toward winning their second straight SEC West title Saturday when they host the Razorbacks, led by the nation's top-rated quarterback in Ryan Mallett.

Oddsmakers from online sports book BetOnline have made Alabama -15.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 54% of bets for this game have been placed on Arkansas +15.5 (View College Football bet percentages).

After Alabama (3-0) led Florida International by six points at halftime before a second-half surge helped it post a 40-14 victory Sept. 12, Saban questioned the team's enthusiasm. He knew he had talented players and wanted to see them come out and play solid ball for the full 60 minutes against North Texas last Saturday.

The Crimson Tide responded, racing to a 30-0 halftime lead and winning 53-7 in the program's highest-scoring game since a 56-7 victory over UTEP in 2001.

"Until today, I wondered, 'Was this team really going to fulfill its full potential?'" Saban said. "I just wasn't pleased with the lack of consistency we played with in the first two games. We played really well at times and at other times we didn't, but I feel like we were much more solid and we made some improvement."

The Tide racked up 523 yards of offense and the Mean Green didn't get in the end zone until late in the third quarter, when most of Alabama's starters were on the bench with the team leading by 44.

"Everything we've done up to this point is all good and grand as far as getting the cobwebs out," said quarterback Greg McElroy, who completed 13 of 15 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns last week. "Now it's time to really start playing. Our goal is to win an SEC championship, an SEC West championship, all those things. And we can't get it without a victory next week."

The Tide, who went 8-0 in conference play last season to win the West before losing to eventual national champion Florida in the league title game, will likely need another strong offensive performance to keep pace with the Razorbacks (1-1, 0-1).

Arkansas boasts the second-best offense in the Football Bowl Subdivision, averaging 538.0 yards, and came up on the short end of a 52-41 loss to then-No. 23 Georgia last Saturday night.

Mallett threw for 161 yards and three touchdowns in the first quarter to help the Razorbacks jump out to a 21-10 lead, but the potent offense struggled to get the ball in the end zone down the stretch, scoring six points in the final 20 minutes.

"We've got to keep executing," Mallett said. "We didn't execute in the fourth quarter like we did in the first half. We have to continue to get better. We put up numbers but not enough points. We could have had a couple more touchdowns."

Mallett is the key to the offense, throwing for 717 yards in two games. The transfer from Michigan set two school records Saturday with 408 passing yards and five touchdowns, and leads the FBS with a 193.5 passer rating.

The Tide are stout on defense this season, giving up a league-best 185.3 yards per game, but facing Mallett and the Razorbacks will likely present a bigger test than lining up against teams from the Sun Belt Conference like they did the last two weeks.

"We're going to have to ramp it up a notch," Saban said.

"This is a really good football team, especially an outstanding offensive team, but a really good team overall and it's going to be very challenging for us. It's a little different than what we have played against to this point, so there are a lot of challenges here and we'll see how we respond to it."

Saban hopes to have star receiver Julio Jones (bruised right knee) and tailback Roy Upchurch (high ankle sprain) back for this game after they sat out last weekend.

In last season's 49-14 win over Arkansas, Jones caught a 25-yard TD pass while Upchurch rushed for 91 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.

The Tide have won three of four overall against the Razorbacks and four of five in Alabama.

Bet College Football Week 4

Posted: 9/22/09 2:55PM ET

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