In the week leading up to the Arkansas-Alabama game, the fine folks at Hog Sports Radio had me on the air and asked if I thought the Razorbacks could turn the Big Two in the SEC West — the Tide and LSU — into the Big Three this season.
My answer didn’t matter then and it doesn’t matter now; the Tide’s does, however. And it was a resounding and emphatic “hell no!”
Like a senior escorting a freshman to prom, the Tide had its way with the Razorbacks in every manner imaginable throughout its 38-14 demolition of the Hogs. Taken to the woodshed, ran into a buzzsaw, however you want to phrase it, the Razorbacks were overmatched and overwhelmed for 60 minutes in Tuscaloosa. Arkansas was hoping to make a statement with this game; the only statement made was by the Tide and its stifling defense. And a quarterback who survived the first SEC test of his starting career.
In that radio spot I spoke of earlier, I said that one of the keys for a UA win was to test the unproven AJ McCarron and make him prove that the conference stage wasn’t too big for him. Test taken, test passed with flying colors as McCarron completed 75 percent of his passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns. Most importantly, he didn’t throw a drive-killing or game-changing interception as is the wont of some/most young QBs in their first real test.
Of course, having a Trent Richardson at your disposal — 120 yards rushing on just 16 carries, a 61-yard TD reception off a screen pass — helps. And so does a defense that could be one for the ages.
Arkansas came into the game ranked 11th in the country in total offense (517.3 yards per game) and eighth in scoring (47 ppg); they were held to well under 226 yards of total offense in the loss, a total that included just 17 yards rushing — over 150 below their season average coming in. The most notable example of the Tide’s defensive domination came in the first half when the game was still somewhat in doubt. During the first 30 minutes, the Razorbacks total just 89 yards of offense, with 63 coming on their lone scoring drive of the half. To put a finer point on the defensive display, the Tide allow a grand total of minus-six yards rushing in the first two quarters.
Toss a punt return for a touchdown in with the domination on defense and steady, mistake-free offense, and you have a team eerily morphing into a spitting image of the 2009 BcS title team before our very eyes.
I honestly don’t know if Alabama is the best team in the country right now. If they’re not, though, it doesn’t take long to call roll.
One thing I do know for an absolute fact and should serve as a ray of sunlight on an otherwise dark day in Fayetteville? Tyler Wilson is one of the toughest quarterbacks in the country. He took shot after shot after shot from a Tide defense that plays like there are 14 men on the field at any one time, and never backed down once.
After having your manhood ripped away, however, I’m sure that’s not much consolation for the Hogs.