No matter what bump or twist in the road Alabama football encountered, the Crimson Tide found a way against Arkansas.
And No. 2 Alabama is the SEC West champion because of it.
The Razorbacks threw all they could at the Crimson Tide, including a perfectly executed fake field goal, but Alabama came out victorious. The Crimson Tide (10-1, 6-1 SEC) defeated Arkansas 42-35 on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium and will play in the SEC Championship game against Georgia in Atlanta on Dec. 4.
Here are observations and takeaways from Alabama victory’s over Arkansas (7-4, 3-4):
Receivers put on a showIf you’re a fan of good receiver play, this was the game for you.
Between Alabama’s Jameson Williams and John Metchie III and Arkansas’ Treylon Burks, there were no shortage of highlights.
In the first half alone, Metchie had six catches for 122 yards and one touchdown. Williams had four catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns. Burks didn’t have quite as impressive of a stat line with five first-half catches for 82 yards and one touchdown, but his physical presence made for a difficult matchup for most Crimson Tide defensive backs as the offense tended to go through him.
Burks struck again in the second half when, on third down, he caught a 66-yard touchdown pass on a back-shoulder throw. The play brought Arkansas within 31-21 with 10:09 left in the third quarter.
Then, in the fourth quarter, Williams caught a 40-yard touchdown pass to put Alabama up 42-28 with 5:39 left.
Trading great punts and long drivesAlabama and Arkansas each looked at different points to set themselves up for field-position success in the second quarter. Each team had a punt in the first half that pinned the opposing team within their own 5.
Then, each defense failed to slow down the offenses. First, Alabama went 98 yards for a score capped off by a touchdown pass to Metchie for 20 yards.
Then, Arkansas traveled 96 yards, which Burks finished with a 15-yard touchdown catch.
Both offenses looked impressive on these drives while each defense played on its heels.
Alabama defense inconsistent
At times, the Crimson Tide defense looked stout. Arkansas couldn’t get much anything going, especially in the first quarter.
Then, whether it be because of the Razorbacks’ adjustments or Alabama’s defensive miscues, the Crimson Tide struggled at times in the seconds quarter.
The secondary had trouble accounting for Burks, whose size made him a mismatch. Arkansas also did well at finding ways to get him open. Such was the case on the flat pass he took for the score in the second quarter as Malachi Moore couldn’t bring him down before the end zone.
Then later in the second quarter, Warren Thompson got behind the Alabama defense and caught a 40-yard touchdown pass. Originally ruled a touchdown, Thompson was down at the 1, but the bust did not reflect well on Alabama, nonetheless. Defensive backs Josh Jobe and Moore ran into each other near the line of scrimmage, which allowed Thompson to get behind them as they chased.
After the 66-yard touchdown to Burks, Jobe was replaced on the Alabama defense by freshman cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry.
But Alabama’s defense also made some stops late in the game when it needed to make them, capping off an overall inconsistent day.
Alabama special teams bite on another fake
First, it was the jump pass punt against LSU in early November. That led to a touchdown, but against Arkansas, a fake field goal jump pass directly resulted in a touchdown.
In the fourth quarter, Reid Bauer hit Blake Kern on a pass that brought Arkansas within 34-28 with 11:24 remaining.