It’s been 16 years since Arkansas walked off the field satisfied after a game with Alabama. There have been a few close calls — 2010 and 2014 — come to mind for games played in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks gave Alabama a scare with a 42-35 final in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
That leads to the 2:30 pm CT Saturday meeting in Razorback Stadium. No. 20 Arkansas is 3-1 coming off a heartbreaking loss to Texas A&M but player interviews in Fayetteville this week took on a confident tone.
Several Razorbacks were asked about the prospect of playing host to No. 2 Alabama.
“We could definitely hang with them,” defensive back Myles Slusher told reporters in Fayetteville. “I never just looked at them like… they’re a great team, don’t get me wrong. They’re great team. I just feel like we should look at everybody the same, you know? Go into the same week with the same mindset that we want to get on them early and keep it up through all four quarters because it’s a long game.
“It’s a lot of players from last year that was on my mind going into this game that I want to recover from, but it’s just all led to the details throughout the week of practice. So as long as we have a strong practice this week, I feel like we’ll be fine.”
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Slusher was a part of the close loss to Alabama last year while defensive end Jordan Domineck transferred to Arkansas from Georgia Tech.
“Just, I’ve got all the respect in the world for Alabama,” he said. “But then again, great team, but they’re not unbeatable. They’ve been beaten before, and just can’t put them on that pedestal of where we’re going into the game and we’re just thinking, ‘Oh, we’re just going to lose. How bad are we going to lose?’ Nah, we’ve got to go into the game and just understand that we’re on an even playing field, right now.”
Razorbacks coach Sam Pittman has been preaching the importance of not letting Alabama beat them with the intimidation factor that comes with Alabama’s brand name.
“I mean, it’s Alabama. They’re a well-coached, well-oiled machine,” tight end Trey Knox said. “They get those five-star players every class. But we just have to look past that because stars don’t really matter that much. They’re going to be well-coached. They’re not going to mess up at all, very few and far between. We just have to take advantage and take what they give us, not try to do too much and not try to make more than what it is. Just go out there and play our game.”
The issue of the 15-game losing streak in the series isn’t lost on the Hogs but they aren’t letting that dominate the mindset.
“Every team is beatable,” said running back Raheim Sanders, who ran six times for 18 yards as a freshman against Alabama last year. “Of course, they’re good. They’ve got good coaches and good players. They don’t mess up, like Trey said before. They’re disciplined. We’ve just got to go out there and just attack.”
Michael Casagrande is a reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @ByCasagrande or on Facebook.