TUSCALOOSA, Ala. —With a little over 11 minutes left in the game, it looked like the Alabama defense had finally gotten the stop they needed. They had stopped Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson on third down, and a false start pushed the Razorbacks back to a fourth-and-nine from the 32.
Arkansas ran the field goal unit out on the field, but instead of kicking the 50-yard attempt, the Razorbacks successfully faked the play with a pass from holder Reid Bauer to tight end Blake Kern for a touchdown.
It may have looked like Alabama wasn't ready for the fake, but according to head coach Nick Saban that's not the case.
"We were trying to cover the guy, [we] just ran into the official," Saban said. "They had run a fake field goal against LSU last week, so we'd actually worked on it and called the defense that we wanted to play against it and still got rubbed off and didn't make the play."
Linebacker Henry To'oTo'o was on the field for the play, and he too said that Alabama knew what was coming.
"Everybody has a man, and DeMarcco [Hellams] just kind of ran into the ref," To'oTo'o said. "So we all had a man. We were prepared for it."
You can see around the two or three second mark in the clip below how Hellams almost gets picked by the referee while trying to cover the tight end.
At the time, the touchdown pass got Arkansas within one score of the Crimson Tide at 34-28. The Alabama offense responded by driving all the way down the field before tight end Cameron Latu fumbled as he was heading toward the end zone.
The Crimson defense came away with a big three-and-out after the Latu fumble. Four players later, Bryce Young found Jameson Williams in the end zone for the third time in the game as Alabama pulled away 42-28 with less than six minutes left. To'oTo'o said it just shows how this team always has each other's backs.
"We're a unit," To'oTo'o said. "We all have A on our chest, and we harp on it every single day at practice. We harp on it every single Saturday. When something bad happens on offense, we come out and pep each other up—make sure our heads are held up high. I think we do a good job of that as a team because we're going to need it."
Despite giving up the touchdown on the fake, the 42 points from the offense would be enough for Alabama to beat Arkansas and clinch the SEC West on Saturday night.