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Alabama resisting 'warm and cozy' feeling heading to Fayetteville

The SportsXchange

What looked like one of the big games of September had a different feel two games into the season when Arkansas was upset and star quarterback Tyler Wilson's status became highly uncertain as Alabama steamrolled to 2-0 and No. 1 in the nation.

The Crimson Tide's trip to Arkansas Saturday doesn't seem like a big deal any more, not after the Razorbacks' embarrassing second half meltdown in an overtime loss last week against Louisiana-Monroe.

And with the possibility that Wilson -- officially day-to-day -- might not play after being knocked out last week, there wouldn't appear to be any realistic scenario under which Alabama could lose this one, even though it's a road game in the Southeastern Conference.

Just don't waste your time trying to sell coach Nick Saban on that concept.

"Nobody here should be feeling warm and cozy about the other team's circumstance or situation," he said. "We need to be thinking about what we need to do to be successful. Regardless of who plays in the game, they have a lot of players that are very capable of making plays and having success."

While that might be true, it's also a Razorback team which had trouble in its opener against FCS opponent Jacksonville State. A forced coaching change from Bobby Petrino to John L. Smith appears to have been a step backwards and Arkansas appears to be no better on defense, which was its one weakness of sorts last year.

The Tide also come into this one looking to correct a spate of errors in last week's 35-0 shutout of Western Kentucky. Quarterback AJ McCarron was sacked six times and although all those weren't the offensive line's fault, you've got to think they'll be motivated to improve that performance.

Although there are now depth concerns at running back, where Eddie Lacy is not 100 percent because of an ankle injury and Jalston Fowler is done for the year with a knee injury, Saban isn't about to entertain excuses from anyone about anything.

"How you progress through the season is the most important thing," he said. "How you improve through the season. The challenges are going to get greater all the time. That's what we want our players to focus on and do."

NOTES

--The Crimson Tide have taken care of business in their SEC openers over the years, winning 20 in a row, dating back to 1992. The streak includes four straight over Arkansas, as well as a dozen victories over Vanderbilt. The last loss in an SEC lidlifter was in 1991 at Florida.

--If recent history is any indication, Arkansas shouldn't count on doing a whole lot against the Alabama run defense. In the last 16 games against Football Bowl Series foes, the Tide have allowed only 703 ground yards, or 43.9 per game. Only Penn State (107) and LSU (148) have climbed over 100 yards in that span.

--Last week's shutout of Western Kentucky marked the 35th time in coach Nick Saban's five-plus seasons that Alabama has limited an opponent to 10 points or less. It's the 18th time since the 2010 season started that it has kept the opposition to 10 or fewer points.
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