Rapid Reaction: Crimson Tide humbles Hogs in comfortable road win
Alabama defeated Arkansas in Fayetteville 49-30 to remain unbeaten (6-0) as the team sees three challenging games ahead on the schedule. The Alabama offense rushed for 214 yards in the first half, and the defense was dominant throughout the game.
What it means: This is the third SEC win for Alabama, but this game is the most complete performance of the season for the team. Arkansas is the toughest opponent Alabama has faced aside from Ole Miss. The Rebels might have been a tougher opponent, but the Tide played much better against Arkansas. This gives the team momentum as it moves forward in the most difficult stretch of the season. Plus, the Alabama should remain No. 1 for now.
What I liked: Alabama’s offense looked complete in the first half, a vast improvement compared to the slow start last week. Joshua Jacobs, Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough had runs of more than 20 yards during the first half. The offense didn’t play as well in the second half, but the first-half performance was an encouraging step forward.
The defense played well on the whole. Tim Williams (23-yard fumble return) and Minkah Fitzpatrick (100-yard INT return) scored defensive touchdowns, giving Alabama seven for the season. The defense continued to be absolutely dominant against the run.
What I didn’t like: Reuben Foster not returning to the game. Foster is the leader of the defense, and his presence was missed in the second half. If Foster misses any additional games, it could be a serious blow to one of the nation’s top defenses. The team can still play at a high level with numerous playmakers and plenty of depth, but losing the play caller of the defense is a tough blow to any defense.
Who’s the man: Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick had three interceptions in this game, something that even strong defenders accumulate through the course of an entire season. Actually, Fitzpatrick’s trio of picks all came in the second half. Part of his success was due to being in the right place at the right time, and part of it was Fitzpatrick’s incredible ball-hawking abilities. Fitzpatrick’s 100-yard touchdown was the third of his hat trick.
Key plays: Damien Harris’ 56-yard touchdown reception from Hurts marked the high point for the offense, pushing Alabama’s lead to a commanding 28-7 lead. Fitzpatrick’s 100-yard interception return for a touchdown was the biggest play of the second half, giving Alabama a 49-24 lead. With Arkansas driving in the red zone, it turned the potential of a 42-31 game into a 49-24 rout.
What’s next: Alabama continues its road trip by traveling to Knoxville, where the team will face SEC East rival Tennessee. The Vols are coming off a tough 45-38 double-overtime loss at Kyle Field to Texas A&M.
Nick Saban has never lost to Tennessee as the head coach at Alabama. From the perspective of Alabama, facing a Tennessee team that got banged up in a long contest against A&M should give the Tide a slight advantage.