Posted by Jerry Hinnen
ALABAMA WON: If there were any last lingering doubts about the Crimson Tide's national championship bona fides, they were erased in Tuscaloosa today. Alabama dominated the visiting Razorbacks in all three phases, getting 211 yards from scrimmage from Trent Richardson (on 10.6 yards a touch), scoring two touchdowns on special teams, and holding the previously red hot Hog offense to a miserable 3.96 yards per-play, 226 total. Given the kind of team Arkansas should prove to be this season, this goes down as the most impressive performance of the 2011 college football season to-date. LSU: your move.
WHY ALABAMA WON: We're man enough to admit when we're wrong, and when we wrote yesterday that the Tide secondary could be beaten deep? Judging by Saturday's evidence, we were very, very wrong. Tyler Wilson completed 22 of his 35 passes before giving way to Brandon Mitchell in the fourth quarter, but for only 185 yards--5.3 an attempt. Again and again Wilson was forced to check down to slithery receivers like Joe Adams or Jarius Wright, and again and again Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick and the rest of the Tide secondary was there to smother them well short of the sticks. The Hogs' inability to get deep was encapsulated by a 3rd-and-1 play in the fourth quarter, when Wilson executed an excellent play-action fake, looked deep towards Greg Childs and fired ... only for Childs to be blanketed in double-coverage by Barron and Kirkpatrick, who only missed out on an interception by colliding with each other.
Combine Arkansas's lack of any kind of downfield threat with their near-total feebleness in the run game (19 yards, .9 per-carry), and it's no surprise they enjoyed just one gain (one) longer than 20 yards. The Hogs were forced to drive the field on the Tide, and we have serious doubts anyone can drive the field on the Tide.
WHEN ALABAMA WON: A comeback from 31-7 down in the third quarter was never likely, but the Hogs could at least dream after getting a highlight-reel touchdown pass from Wilson to Cobi Hamilton and following it up with a stop and drive across midfield. But the aforementioned play-action failure on 3rd-and-1 led to a Dennis Johnson run up the middle on 4th-and-1 ... which Dont'a Hightower mercilessly stuffed. With just 3:30 left in the quarter, that stuff ended whatever remaining threat Arkansas represented.
WHAT ALABAMA WON: The right to be called the best team in the country ... pending what Oklahoma and LSU do later Saturday night. The battle for No. 1 is officially a three-horse race.
WHAT ARKANSAS LOST: Any right to be mentioned in the same breath with the Tide and Tigers at the top of the SEC. The Hogs are banged-up on defense and were a poor matchup for the Tide on offense, but their lines simply aren't physical enough or powerful enough to battle the current consensus top two.
THAT WAS CRAZY: You didn't think we'd wrap this post up without mentioning Marquis Maze's spectacular third-quarter punt return for touchdown, do you? Adams was supposed to be the big special teams threat this game, but Maze's weaving Play of the Year candidate had more than a little to say about that: