Not Exactly Familiar, But Not All That Different: Alabama 24, Arkansas 20

Talk about the events of the day at the Weekend Open Thread.

It's too early to tell if Arkansas is really 2010's answer to Ole Miss 2009, but Ryan Mallett certainly looked a lot like Jevan Snead did last year -- and that cost Arkansas a chance to upset Alabama and take the lead in the SEC West.

It might be too much to entirely blame Saturday's loss on Mallett -- we'll get to that in a moment -- but two of his three interceptions came on bad throws when Arkansas absolutely could not afford them. The first gave Alabama the ball on the Arkansas 12 and set up the Tide's winning touchdown; the second ended Arkansas' potential game-winning drive in Alabama territory with time winding down.

Not to take away from what Alabama accomplished Saturday -- at the half, the Tide was in the most danger of losing a game since the 2008 SEC Championship Game, but rallied for 17 unanswered points beginning late in the third quarter. Greg McElroy was uncharacteristically erratic, but Mark Ingram was back to being Mark Ingram, rushing for 157 yards and 2 TDs on 24 carries. (Trent Richardson gained 85 yards on eight carries.) Marcus Lattimore and Michael Dyer supporters should take note -- the next great SEC running back might still be the last great SEC running back.

But Alabama is far from winning the SEC West. The next two weeks still bring Florida to Tuscaloosa and send the Tide to Columbia, LSU and Auburn are still on the schedule, and the possibility that Mississippi State could be more dangerous this year than last is still alive. The Tide is about to find out just how much better than the rest of the league they really are.

That said, winning your first conference game -- and perhaps the most dangerous of the lot -- is the best way to start the season. Any Arkansas fan can tell you it's far better than the alternative.

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