Ryan Mallett is just becoming a household name. But today, Ryan Mallett could vault himself to another level, if Mallett and the Arkansas Razorbacks knock off the defending champions. The No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide are just starting to defend their SEC and national championships, as they are expected to get their toughest early test today in Fayetteville. Yet the Tide are still heavily favored over the Razorbacks, who are still considered a minor SEC contender. However, if Ryan Mallett has another huge game this afternoon, the Razorbacks could provide the first major shakeup of the year,
While Terrelle Pryor and Denard Robinson are leading early Heisman buzz, Mallett has become the nation’s leading passer. The Razorbacks’ quarterback backed up his early standing, with a last-minute drive to beat Georgia on the road last week.
Yet Ryan Mallett has an even tougher task today, although he is playing to a home crowd. The Razorbacks face the top ranked Tide at 3:30 pm, in a game with SEC and national implications. Although Arkansas is ranked No. 10 in the AP, they have not been labeled as a serious contender thus far.
The Razorbacks haven’t beat a top team in a long time, and haven’t been an SEC factor in a few years. But given the hot start of Ryan Mallett, Arkansas has new hope that this year will be different. However, if the Tide take care of business, they will be knocked back down to earth a bit.
With an upset today, Arkansas will not only have an early leg up on the SEC West, they will be talked about as a national factor. In addition, if Ryan Mallett has a huge game in an upset win, he will be propelled to the top of the Heisman race, above Pryor and Robinson.
Mallett has averaged 360.3 yards a game in his first three outings, but the defenses he faced so far are not like Alabama’s. The Tide shut down Tim Tebow and knocked out Colt McCoy to win the 2009 title, and clamped down on Penn State just two weeks ago. Even if their defense can’t hold up, the Tide have a healthy Mark Ingram back to balance it out.
No one has beaten the Tide in the regular season during the last two years, so Ryan Mallett and the Razorbacks need to come up huge where others have failed. Thus far, convention has held to form in the first three weeks of the season, when it comes to the top ranked teams. Although Arkansas is the underdog, they could have the best chance to change that this week.
This could be the coming out party for Ryan Mallett and Arkansas football, or it might just reinforce the Tide’s stranglehold on the SEC and BCS. Fans will find out for sure when the Tide and Razorbacks collide at 3:30 pm est on CBS.
The Commercial Appeal- “Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett, nation’s leading passer, on a roll and under control”
CBS Sports- “Arkansas vs Alabama”