Anyone who didn't watch the Arkansas-Alabama game Saturday night in Tuscaloosa would probably see the final score of 27-14 and assume that the game was a controlled Alabama win. That, however, was not the case, as a defensive struggle for the first 43 minutes of the game with Arkansas on top for most of the game eventually turned into a comfortable Alabama win.
For nearly three quarters, it looked like Arkansas might pull the second upset at Bryant-Denny Stadium this year. The Razorbacks' halftime lead of 7-3 was holding up, Arkansas' defense was stifling the Alabama offense and the field position game appeared to be tilting in the Hogs' favor. An 81-yard pass from Jake Coker to a wide open Calvin Ridley flipped the developing script and gave the lead to the Crimson Tide with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Alabama would go on to stretch that lead to 27-7 before Arkansas scored late in the fourth quarter via a 54-yard Brandon Allen pass to give the game its final margin.
Alabama struggled throughout the first half, and the game appeared to be setting football back to the 1980s. Coker threw a pair of first-half interceptions, and Adam Griffith missed a pair of field goals in the game's opening half. Meanwhile, Arkansas was held to 77 yards by Alabama's defense in the first half and the Razorbacks' touchdown was set up by a short field after Coker's second interception.
Coming off last week's dominating win over Georgia, Alabama could be forgiven a slight letdown spot in their homecoming match-up against Arkansas. However, Arkansas' defense was doing everything it could to keep the Razorbacks in the game, led by Brooks Ellis' 15 tackles (including 2.5 for loss) and strong play from JUCO transfer defensive tackle Jeremiah Ledbetter. Alabama totaled nearly 400 yards, but 81 came on the touchdown pass to Ridley, and the rushing game was held to under three yards per carry. Derrick Henry quietly had 95 yards on 27 carries with a single touchdown. Henry's longest rush on the night was 15 yards with under three minutes remaining in the game.
For its part, though, Alabama's defense held its own. After the Arkansas rushing game showed improvement in the last two weeks, it regressed against Alabama's strong defensive front. Alex Collins was held to 26 yards on 12 carries while the team as a whole was limited to 44 yards and less than two yards per carry. Brandon Allen threw for a pair of touchdowns, but was held to 176 passing yards and 5.5 yards per attempt while being sacked three times.
Alabama travels to College Station for an afternoon match-up against Texas A&M next week while Arkansas takes a bye before hosting Auburn in two weeks.