Five days after Tyler Wilson suffered a head injury in Arkansas’ shocking 34-31 loss to UL-Monroe, the question remains the same: “Will he play against Alabama?”
Wilson threw passes on Wednesday but didn’t practice, and coach John L. Smith said he’s “keeping his fingers crossed” that his senior quarterback will be healthy enough to start in the team’s SEC opener. Wilson’s status has gone from unlikely to doubtful back to unlikely and now to somewhat hopeful.
Nobody wants Wilson to play more than Smith.
Gee, wonder why?
Arkansas isn’t believed to have much of a chance without him. In the offseason, when sportsbooks released their Games of the Year lines, the Razorbacks opened as a 6.5-point underdog. Since then, Alabama has proven to be better than we thought and Arkansas—especially without Bobby Petrino—has proven to be worse.
But how much worse?
The point spread opened Alabama -13.5 at Wynn Casino and a few offshores had it at 15. So, already, that’s an indicator that the Tide were going to be double-digit favorites even with Wilson in the lineup.
Without him, though, the line went as high as Alabama -22 and is currently 20.5 at most books, a clear sign that bookmakers put out a bad number and arguably their worst of the season given the teams involved.
On the surface, the line probably looks too high. If not for Wilson’s injury, the Razorbacks would still be a top 10 team rather than unranked, and their BCS title hopes would still be alive. However, the defense is atrocious and is coming off a game in which it allowed three second-half touchdowns and more than 500 yards against a Sun Belt squad.
Given Smith’s propensity to get outcoached—and badly—it’s hard to back the Razorbacks in this spot despite the seemingly inflated point spread. That said, if Wilson plays (and plays well), you could certainly argue that there’s value in the number.