Alabama and Arkansas are 2 days away from finding out a lot about themselves and the direction their seasons will take.

Will No. 2 Alabama stay on course for a shot at yet another national title, or will it be derailed on the 1st afternoon of October?

Will No. 20 Arkansas shake off a bitter loss to Texas A&M and pull off a stunner that would go down in Hog football annals, or will it let the loss to the Aggies linger and be dragged down the SEC West standings?

Those questions will be answered after the 3:30 p.m. ET game on Saturday, when the dust settles on the highly anticipated Red Out at Razorback Stadium.

For now, we wait, we wonder, we envision what that Red Out will look like exactly, and we give you some final thoughts to chew on and spew about in the 48 hours before kickoff.

Only one number matters

Nick Saban and Sam Pittman are separated by just 10 years and also a whopping 258 victories at the collegiate level. Saban has 273 wins at his 4 college coaching stops, while Pittman has a grand total of 15 victories at his 1 and only major college stop. And yet, if Pittman is able to get his Razorbacks to rise up and take down the Tide on Saturday, none of those numbers will matter one lick.

Pittman will be 257 wins behind Saban — and also ahead of him in the SEC West standings.

Regardless of what happens on Saturday, Saban has noticed the culture of physical football that Pittman has built in Fayetteville, and he’s impressed. Saban called the 3-1 Hogs a “dangerous” team.

“Sam’s done a great job there, to me,” he said. “They play with toughness. They run the ball effectively, stop the run on defense. I mean, their guys play hard. They’ve got a real culture there that shows great intangibles.”

Mother knows best

Speaking of the Saban-Pittman bond, Pittman nearly left his assistant coaching job at Arkansas almost 10 years ago to join Saban’s staff at Alabama. But he stayed loyal and stayed in Fayetteville, and a decade later, he’s the guy in charge there.

“I had just been here about 4 or 5 weeks and had been talking with players about loyalty and this and that, and you can’t be hypocritical,” Pittman recalled on Monday when meeting with reporters in Fayetteville. “And my mom told me she didn’t raise a son that would do that. So that ended that conversation.”

Pittman said he was tempted by Tuscaloosa, because why wouldn’t he be. But doing the right thing got in the way — and his mom’s teachings. He called her to discuss Saban’s offer, and his mom didn’t mince words.

“I said, ‘Yes ma’am,’ and that was the end of it,” said Pittman.

Finebaum focused on Fayetteville

The first Saturday in October means the intensity of conference play has arrived everywhere, in the SEC and beyond. Predictably, there are a slew of fantastic matchups in Week 5, including Kentucky-Ole Miss, Clemson-North Carolina State, Oklahoma State-Baylor and Wake Forest-Florida State.

But ESPN college football expert and SEC football savant Paul Finebaum believes the Tide and Hogs in Fayetteville is the most interesting. In fact, it’s Finebaum’s Game of the Week, and here’s why:

“That game has lost a little bit because Arkansas lost in a bizarre fashion to (Texas) A&M the other day in Jerry’s World, but this is probably the toughest game Alabama is going to have, at least until the SEC championship game,” Finebaum said on ESPN earlier this week. “I’m locked into this, the idea of Alabama losing or potentially losing a game. I realize they are a 16- or 17-point favorite. But I am locked into this game.”

Don’t sleep on the other Sanders

Arkansas has gotten a lot of attention in the season’s 1st month because of its 1-2 running punch of KJ Jefferson and Raheim Sanders. But you might not know that the Hogs lead the nation in sacks with 20 in their first 4 games.

And the main reason why?

That would be Alabama transfer Drew Sanders, who also leads the country with his 5.5 sacks. The junior linebacker came to Tuscaloosa as a 5-star recruit out of Denton, Texas, and was expected to become the next great linebacker at Alabama. But Sanders was limited by injuries and got caught in the numbers game that comes from playing in the program with a bottomless pit of depth.

Sanders transferred to Arkansas earlier this year after starting 3 games for the Crimson Tide as a sophomore.

“Drew was a good player when he was here,” Saban said. “Unfortunate injuries. And he’s certainly playing well for (Arkansas). It’s good to see that he’s doing a good job for them. We’re happy for him and his family.”

With Sanders facing his former school this Saturday in a showcase game on national TV, to go with his NFL Draft stock that is skyrocketing by the week, things might be a little overwhelming right now for him. But Pittman isn’t buying that notion.

“There’s gotta be something in there,” said the Arkansas head coach. “We’ll try to downplay that. It is just about shedding blocks and tackling, and doing his assignment. He’s probably been somewhat through that, but nothing like this week. He’s a mature guy. I would assume it won’t affect him too much.”

Something has to give

The Crimson Tide have held 14 of their past 19 foes under 100 yards rushing. On Saturday, they will lock horns with one of the top rushing offenses in college football, featuring the dual-threat quarterback Jefferson and the SEC’s leading rusher in Sanders.

Jefferson is a threat to run all the time and already has 274 yards rushing this season, Sanders is 4th in the nation with 127 rushing yards per game, and the Hogs are ranked 9th nationally with 243.8 rushing yards per game.

It doesn’t take a football Einstein to see that Saturday’s winner between the Arkansas offensive line and Bama defensive line will probably also be celebrating a victory on the scoreboard.

The prediction

Finebaum said he wouldn’t be shocked to see the Tide tumble on Saturday in Fayetteville. I sort of would be. Alabama is 14-1 in SEC road openers under Saban, and while not all of those 15 games came against ranked teams, some of them did, and Saban almost always had his program ready for that 1st hostile SEC environment.

This isn’t going to be easy, and it shouldn’t be, not on the road and against a ranked team that wants to treat its fans to one of the best victories in program history. Because that’s what Saturday would be if the Hogs can pull this off. They will be very competitive. They might even lead at halftime. But Bryce Young and Will Anderson Jr. won’t let the Tide lose this early in the SEC, and Jahmyr Gibbs will have a rushing and receiving TD.

Bama finds its way in the 2nd half and finds a way out of Fayetteville at 5-0.

Alabama 38, Arkansas 27.