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Alabama Crimson Tide 14, Arkansas Razorbacks 13: Tide Escape a Sloppy Nail-Biter

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Alabama avoided losing back-to-back SEC games for the first time since 2007 by the narrowest of margins

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama escaped Fayetteville, Ark., with a 14-13 win over Arkansas in a sloppy game. Alabama would get a fourth-quarter touchdown to take the lead for good, but the game was far from comfortable for the Tide.

Throughout the game, both teams were untidy. The Tide bungled three punt returns and lost two, with Christion Jones losing a first-quarter punt for his second special teams fumble in the last two weeks. On the ensuing Arkansas drive, the Razorbacks drove to the end zone before Kody Allen fumbled diving toward the end zone. The ball would go out of the end zone for a touchback, keeping the game scoreless.

The special team woes continued as Adam Griffith missed a 30-yard field goal on Alabama's opening drive of the second quarter. For all of the special teams mistakes for Alabama, however, the eventual winning margin would come from a positive special teams play, when Jonathan Allen blocked Arkansas' second-quarter extra point.

Bret Bielema is still seeking his first SEC win at Arkansas, but after the defensive efforts in the last two SEC games, it can only be a matter of time before that win comes. Arkansas held Alabama to only 227 offensive yards, including 66 rushing yards on 32 carries. Alabama's longest rush was only a 12-yard carry by T.J. Yeldon, who was held to 45 yards on 16 carries.

That is not to say Alabama's defense did not come up big as well. The Tide defense held the SEC's leading rushing team to a season-low 89 yards. Brandon Allen did pass for nearly 100 yards more than his season average, but those passing yards came on a completion percentage of 53 percent. Fifty-four of Allen's 246 yards came on a third-quarter touchdown to AJ Derby to give Arkansas a 12-7 lead, but Bielema elected to kick an extra point rather than attempting a two point conversion. Alabama's defense made a big play to finish the game off with a Landon Collins interception of Allen with two minutes remaining to finally allow the Crimson Tide to escape.

Bielema's building of the Arkansas program has been slow to progress and a statement win over Alabama would have been massive, but the improvement shown this year so far looks like it will pay off soon with the long-awaited SEC win.