- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Third-ranked Alabama scored a pair of special teams touchdowns and also scored on defense to remain unbeaten and romp past No. 14-ranked Arkansas 38-14 on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Here’s an instant analysis from the game:
How the game was won: Alabama won the battle up front, and it wasn’t even close for much of the game. Arkansas was unable to run the ball with any success. It was 7-7 early, but Alabama broke out to a 31-7 lead five minutes into the third quarter on Trent Richardson's 61-yard touchdown catch and run and never looked back.
Turning point: Alabama led 10-7 late in the second quarter and was forced to kick a field goal after having it third-and-goal from inside the 1. Arkansas seemingly had the momentum after keeping the Crimson Tide out of the end zone. But on the ensuing possession, Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson was intercepted by DeQuan Menzie, who raced 25 yards for a touchdown to make it a 17-7 game at the half. And then in the opening minutes of the second half, Alabama's Marquis Maze returned a punt 83 yards for a touchdown to make it a 24-7 game.
Stat of the game: Arkansas was held to just 17 rushing yards and converted only 4-of-15 on third down.
Player of the game: Richardson finished with 211 combined rushing and receiving yards. He had 126 yards rushing on 17 carries and also had a 61-yard touchdown catch and run on a screen pass.
Unsung hero: Menzie had one of the biggest defensive plays of the day on his interception return for a touchdown, and he was also matched up against Arkansas senior receiver Joe Adams for much of the game. Adams, one of the top open-field playmakers in the league, was held to 37 receiving yards.
What it means: Alabama proved emphatically that its defense is the real deal and that the Tide are going to be a major player for their second national championship in the past three years. The fact that they won this game at home is not overly surprising, but the way they won it certainly is. Arkansas was never really in the game after Menzie’s interception return for a touchdown, and now Arkansas has to face Texas A&M next week in Arlington, Texas. This season could get away from the Hogs in a hurry if they don’t win next week.
8hSam Khan Jr.
10hDavid M. Hale