FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Alabama did not gain a single yard in the third quarter. In fact, with Bryce Young out of the game, the Crimson Tide actually had negative total yardage in the first period out of halftime.
The Razorbacks gained 140 yards more than the Crimson Tide and outscored Alabama 16-0 in the third quarter. And it was looking like more of the same for Alabama to open the fourth quarter.
An incomplete pass and a false start penalty pushed Alabama back towards its own end zone, and the pressure was mounting in front of a raucous Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium crowd as Arkansas had cut the once 28-point Alabama lead to five points.
Then Jalen Milroe was able to flash what he does best. With Alabama facing a third-and-15 deep in its own territory, Milroe slipped through the Arkansas defense all the way down to the Razorback three-yard line.
"Once I passed the line of scrimmage, I was just trying to get the first down," Milroe said. "Then my eye got there [to the end zone], so I tried to score."
The long run busted open the Alabama offense on a worn out Arkansas defense in the fourth quarter. Milroe's scramble set up a three-yard touchdown for Jase McClellan to put the Tide up 35-23. And then Jahmyr Gibbs broke through with fourth-quarter touchdown runs of 72 and 76 yards to help Alabama outscore the Razorbacks 21-3 in fourth quarter on the way to the 49-26 win.
"It was a big time in the game, just trying to do what was best for the team," Milroe said. "And that was a play that took all 11 guys to keep the drive going, because Arkansas was bringing it to us."
Alabama head coach Nick Saban thought it was the biggest momentum swing in the game to turn the tide back in the favor of the Crimson Tide after a rough third quarter.
"It stopped the bleeding for sure because that was third-and-long in bad field position," Saban said in the postgame. "And if you don’t get a first down there, they’re going to get the ball back down by five and have all the momentum in the game. That was a huge swing in the game in my opinion. After that, we played better. After that, I don’t think they (Arkansas) played as well."
The defense also stepped up its game after the long run and touchdown. Outside linebacker Dallas Turner said the defense had "all sorts of faith" in Milroe.
"And as you can see by the scoreboard, we came out victorious," Turner said. "We did what we had to do."
Saban was pleased with the way Milroe managed the game once Young went down with the injury. Milroe finished 4-9 with 65 yards and touchdown through the air and added another 91 yards and touchdown on the ground.
Milroe said the preparation he had put in during the week, plus the teammates and staff surrounding him helped him ease into the role of the Alabama quarterback for the majority of Saturday's game. Alabama scored 35 points with Milroe running the offense.
It's definitely a different style of offense the Crimson Tide runs with Milroe under center than Young, but to Saban, it shows the value of depth and diversity on the Alabama roster. And while Saban is hopeful that Young will be available for Alabama's next game against Texas A&M, Milroe proved on Saturday that he is capable of leading the Crimson Tide offense in the meantime.
"There’s only one Bryce Young in this country, and he’s a great player," Saban said. "Jalen can do what Jalen does, and we have confidence in him… But I thought the offense did a really good job continuing to score points in a different way than when Bryce plays. And I think you’ve got to have that kind of diversity on your team."