Rapid Reaction: No. 1 Alabama roasts Hogs as Tua Tagovailoa continues to play like the Heisman Trophy favorite
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — For the most part, a lot of Arkansas fans decided not to show up and those who did come left early as they knew the outcome before things kicked off.
No. 1 Alabama took over Razorback Stadium as it likely will do to most opposing stadiums. The Crimson Tide pounded Arkansas 65-31 Saturday in their second consecutive brunch game. The point total was a season high, and they topped 50 points for the fifth time this season, matching the program record set in 1945.
No longer do teams get the luxury of hanging around while Alabama’s offense finds a rhythm. This offense is too explosive and too overwhelming for that.
On the first play from scrimmage, Tua Tagovailoa threw a quick screen pass to tight end Irv Smith Jr. who took it 76 yards for a touchdown. Arkansas couldn’t tackle Smith as he rumbled down the sideline to make it 7-0 less than 30 seconds into the contest.
Tagovailoa threw for 334 yards and 4 touchdowns in less than three quarters of work. It was his third 4-touchdown game in six starts this season.
Alabama’s second touchdown came on a pretty weird play. After a forced fumble and recovery from Alabama’s defense, Smith caught another pass from Tagovailoa and broke multiple tackles before fumbling. Luckily for Alabama, receiver Henry Ruggs III was pursuing and recovered the ball for a touchdown to make it 14-0.
It was ruled a 47-yard pass to Smith from Tagovailoa, and a 12-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown for Ruggs. Tagovailoa was credited with a passing touchdown.
Alabama scored in its third possession on a 1-yard run from Josh Jacobs to make it 21-0. But the story from this drive came when Jalen Hurts lined up as a receiver, went in motion and took a handoff from Tagovailoa. On the same drive, Hurts took a snap at quarterback for a quarterback run with Tagovailoa at receiver. Alabama is just toying with defenses now.
Arkansas answered, finding success throwing the ball over the middle and to its tight ends. Arkansas quarterback Ty Storey found tight end Cheyenne O’Grady for an 8-yard score to make it 21-7.
Arkansas was driving, and made it deep into the red zone, but a fumble at the one-yard line killed the Hogs momentum. Alabama took the gift 99 yards on 5 plays for a scoring drive capped by a 42-yard touchdown pass from Tagovailoa to Jerry Jeudy to make it 28-7.
Credit Arkansas. Most teams would have folded after getting down 21 points, but the Hogs kept clawing.
Backup quarterback Cole Kelley came in and found O’Grady for a 3-yard score to make it 28-14 with 6:02 left in the second quarter.
Over the next few minutes, Alabama showed why they’re a cut above everyone else. Damien Harris found his groove, carrying the ball five times and finishing a drive with an 2-yard score to make it 34-14 after the missed extra point.
On Alabama’s next drive, Tagovailoa threw a quick slant to Jeudy who outran Arkansas’ secondary for a 60-yard touchdown to make it 41-14 right before the half.
That was the fourth time in six games that Alabama scored 40 or more in the first half.
Alabama didn’t waste much time scoring to open the second half either. After stopping Arkansas offense, the Crimson Tide pounded their way down the field with Damien Harris, who capped the drive with a one-yard plunge on 4th-and-1 at the one to make it 48-14.
Arkansas added a 41-yard field goal late in the third quarter to get it under the 35-point spread, but Joseph Bulovas answered with a field goal to push the Tide above the 50-point mark.
Then Bama’s defense added its fourth touchdown this season, when Shyheim Carter returned an interception 44 yards for a score.
In other words, Week 6 looked a lot like the Tide’s previous ones.