No. 3 Alabama 38, No. 14 Arkansas 14

No. 14 Arkansas’ high-powered offense was unplugged by the SEC’s

top-rated defense.

Tyler Wilson was under near-constant heat and his dangerous

receivers were mostly denied the ball in open space in the

Razorbacks’ 38-14 loss to No. 3 Alabama on Saturday.

Ronnie Wingo Jr. and the running game couldn’t provide much help

either.

”When we tried to run the ball, we didn’t do a very good job of

doing that,” Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. ”One of our goals

going into the game was to move forward and not have negative

plays. That’s what hurt us. Anytime you have negative plays,

Alabama is going to get you.”

That’s certainly what happened to Arkansas (3-1, 0-1

Southeastern Conference) in a battle between the league’s top

offense and the No. 1 defense.

Trent Richardson rushed for 120 yards and caught a 61-yard

touchdown pass for the Tide (4-0, 1-0), which scored on special

teams, defense and using the old-fashioned power run to

emphatically win the game.

The Razorbacks came in averaging 47 points and 517 yards a game

against questionable competition, but didn’t muster many threats

this time.

They managed just 17 yards on 19 rushes and were outgained

397-226.

”You’d like to be able to run the football and we’d like to

work on that,” Wilson said. ”But we also have to throw the ball

better than we did. I think there was a lot left on the

field.”

Alabama had 10 tackles for loss, two interceptions, six pass

breakups and four quarterback hurries.

Tide quarterback AJ McCarron also came up big in his first SEC

start. He completed 15 of 20 passes for 200 yards and two

touchdowns.

Marquis Maze scored on an 83-yard punt return and DeQuan Menzie

returned an interception 25 yards for another score. McCarron, also

the holder, hooked up with tight end Michael Williams for a 37-yard

touchdown on a fake field goal.

There was also a clear winner in the showdown between Petrino’s

passing game and Saban’s defense.

Wilson sat out most of the fourth quarter after completing 22 of

35 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns. Alabama defenders

seemed to sniff out every screen and swing pass to his dangerous

receivers for little or no gain.

Wingo, who rushed for 109 yards against Troy, gained 14 yards on

nine carries.

”They beat us in all three phases of the game,” Petrino said.

”In the first half, I thought our defense did a great job of

keeping us in the game with the goal-line stand. That gave us a

chance to come out in the second half and do something offensively

but we just couldn’t do it. They made big plays and we

didn’t.”

Richardson had his third straight 100-yard game and also caught

three passes for 85 yards, including the screen that went the

distance. Backfield mate Eddie Lacy ran for 61 yards and punctuated

the win with a 4-yard touchdown late in the third for the final

points. It was the first rushing score allowed by Arkansas this

season.

The Tide found plenty of flashier paths to the end zone, though.

The result was a 17-7 halftime lead that was never threatened by

the Razorbacks.

First, Alabama lined up for a 54-yard field goal on fourth-and-4

before McCarron shifted back and took the snap. He rolled left and

lofted the ball to a wide-open Williams on the Tide’s opening

drive. It set the tone nicely for a game when just about everything

seemed to go right for Alabama even though Arkansas tied it by the

end of the first quarter.

Williams said the Tide had been practicing the play for about

two years.

”We’ve been practicing it for a long time but I just finally

said today the first time we got in field goal range, whether we

were ahead 21 or behind 21, we were going to run it,” Saban

said.

The Arkansas defense salvaged some momentum in the second at the

end of a 15-play drive, stuffing three straight runs from the goal

line to force a field goal.

”We pinned our ears back and got after them,” Arkansas

linebacker Alonzo Highsmith said. ”For a defense, that’s the best

thing in the world. At that point, we had the momentum and were

feeling good about ourselves.”

It proved a small and temporary victory.

Three plays later, Wilson’s errant pass hit Menzie on his right

forearm and bounced right back into the cornerback’s arms for a

25-yard interception return to push the lead to double digits.

Despite heavy pressure, Wilson responded quickly after Arkansas

went down 31-7. He connected with Wingo on a 39-yarder down the

left sideline and a 19-yarder to Cobi Hamilton in the back of the

end zone. He was pounded an instant after making both throws.

”We’ve got to run the ball better and to throw it around

better,” Wilson said. ”They brought a lot of pressure, and we’ve

got to handle it better.

”They’re a great football team.”