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Live Blog: Arkansas vs. Alabama

Can Hogs finally overcome the curse of Nick Saban?

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – It's a beautiful day with a special feel in the atmosphere around Razorback Stadium. 

It feels more like a Garth Brooks concert on the Arkansas campus than a typical Razorback game. The energy is electric. 

After 15 years, can Sam Pittman, the man who ended what felt like an infinite SEC losing streak, finally bring an end to Nick Saban's undefeated streak against the Razorbacks?

Kickoff: Approx. 2:35 p.m.

Stat to Watch

One thing to keep an eye on today is whether Bumper Pool can have a big enough game to break Tony Bua's career record for tackles as a Razorback. Pool is currently at 385 and needs 408 to tie.

Ole Miss Opens Path to National Title Game for Hogs

If Arkansas is going to make it to the national championship game it not only has to beat Alabama, but also needs teams on their schedule to get big wins to generate a national spotlight later in the season. Ole Miss pulled a Texas A&M and won on the scoreboard after being handed a win by Kentucky.

The Hogs and Rebels will meet in November for the SEC West championship should both teams win out.

Student Section Shouts Down Saban

The student section gets in before everyone else. That meant they were in the stands for the pregame interview with Nick Saban down on the field. It seems highly unlikely those watching at home could hear what Saban was saying because the chants of "Nick Saban suck!" were deafening.

Former Hogs Take Down Wisconsin

Former Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, along with his offensive coordinator Barry Lunney Jr., led Illinois to a huge win over Wisconsin today, 34-10.

Hog Fans Still Can't Do the Hog Call

Dressed in all red and sporting pom-poms left on their seats, Razorback fans tried to pull off a Hog call. However, many in the stands don't know how to do it. So many are howling instead of doing a "Wooo!!!"

Andy Hodges Pregame Report from Razorback Stadium

1ST QUARTER

15:00, 1Q (0-0)

Arkansas has deferred to the second half and boy is this stadium jumping. The energy is insane in Fayetteville today.

The Alabama offense will take over at the 25 after a touchback on the opening kick-off. 

Big Play Alert

Bryce Young spots Simeon Blair and goes after him. Deep pass to Traeshon Holden who is brought down at the Arkansas 31. 

Another Young to Holden connection puts Bama in the end zone, but Dwight McGlothern snags a tipped ball by Holden at the 1-yard line that kills a potential Alabama scoring drive.

12:48 1Q (0-0)

Arkansas takes over in the shadow of its own end zone, but big runs by KJ Jefferson and Raheim "Rocket" Sanders, plus a throw to Keytron Jackson has Arkansas down to the 30 and driving. 

The simple power game is highly effective right now. The key to the game is whether offensive coordinator Kendal Briles is patient enough stick with what is working and not try to get cute. 

Jefferson scrambles under pressure and has to throw it away. Arkansas will punt to Kool-Aid McKinstry. 

Max Fletcher gets off what appears to be a good punt, but the refs are walking it back on the spot in favor of Alabama.

9:50, 1Q (0-0)

Jahmyr Gibbs, the Georgia Tech transfer who once played with Jordan Domineck, rips off 9 yards on the first play of the drive.

Arkansas gets pressure on Bryce Young, but he escapes and would have had a big play if his receiver held onto the ball. Young then fumbled on 3rd & 1 deep in the backfield, but Jase McClellan scooped it up and got the first down.

Arkansas is getting consistent pressure on Young with a three-man front. However, the effort to get pressure is weakening the Hogs on run defense and Alabama is taking advantage. 

3rd & 3 at midfield. 

Big Play Alert

Myles Slusher takes a bad angle in single coverage on Kobe Prentice and gets beat for a 47-yard touchdown. The pressure is now on the Arkansas offense to answer quickly.

6 plays, 65 yards (2:09)

ALABAMA 7, ARKANSAS 0

7:41, 1Q (7-0)

Arkansas gets it to 3rd & 2, but Jefferson comes up a yard short on the RPO. The statuesque QB faked the pass and then tried to go up the middle, but was stopped cold just short. 

Pittman then looked like he might try to go for it on 4th & 1, but inexplicably chose to intentionally take a delay of game at the Arkansas 34-yard line. The kicker hasn't shown he is a threat to boot a 70-yard punt, so no need for the yardage. Could be because the defense needs a rest. They were barely on the field on the last drive before getting burnt for a 47-yard touchdown.

5:40, 1Q (7-0)

Alabama will start at the 10-yard line.  Tide stuffed on the first play and Bumper Pool gets a big hit on Holden just shy on the first down on the next play. 

Pool is holding his arm, so keep an eye on his arm strength on future tackles.

Arkansas again unable to get a stop on third down or stop the run. Alabama first down at the 35-yard line.

Young has a lifetime to throw, but the secondary holds up. Prentice is then stopped on a pass in the flat to force another third down. 

Big Play Alert

Continuing the third down trend, Slusher breaks late and Bond blows by him down the middle of the field. Then Young walks around the left edge. He showed Arkansas the respect of faking a shovel pass, but it wasn't necessary as he was so alone he looked almost confused.

So much for taking advantage of a rocking crowd and Alabama's inability to play well on the road. Four of their last five road games were decided by three points or less, but this isn't it. 

2:35, 1Q (14-0)

If Arkansas can't score here, there's still time to grab the rod and reels and hit a top full of catfish down on the river or grab the bow for a little deer hunting.

Jefferson scrambles off left tackle for 13 yards to give Arkansas the first down at the 28. A couple of runs up the gut by Green generate nothing and Jefferson misses Haselwood terribly and Alabama will get the ball back again against this Arkansas secondary.

Fletcher gets off a good punt, but McKinstry not only gets a big return, but an Arkansas defender steps several yards out of bounds to avoid getting blocked and gets flagged to tack on an additional five yards.

0:48, 1Q (14-0)

Alabama will now start at midfield.

Bryce Young hits Jermaine Burton for 14 yards to give Alabama first down at the Arkansas 35. It's getting ugly in the secondary. Young may surpass the nearly 600 yards this secondary gave up to him last year if Saban lets him stay in the game.

2nd QUARTER

Drew Sanders is able to keep contain around the edge and string Young out to hold on third down. It looked like Young grabbed his arm immediately when he hit the ground. Keep an eye on that.

Big Play Alert

Will Reichard misses a 53-yard field goal attempt and Arkansas will take over at their own 35 with a chance to cut this to a 1-touchdown game.

Jefferson misses badly in the flat again and then is given no time by his line on the next play. He avoids the sack and gets no gain. 

Big Play Alert 

Arkansas desperately in need of a big play on third down finds Dubinion in the flat for 14 yards to midfield. Dubinion then breaks off a big run, but fumbles the ball. Pittman and the crowd thought it wasn't a fumble, but it wasn't even close to not being a fumble. Bama will take over at the 40-yard line.

Young Hurting from Drew Sanders Hit

The Alabama QB has gone into the medical tent. The hit from Sanders earlier appears to have done the damage suspected earlier.

10:40, 1Q (14-0)

The Arkansas offensive line is giving Jefferson no help as the Hogs are pinned deep. It is now 3rd & 8. If the offense could ever get it together, this game would be in question, but  a dropped pass by Jaedon Wilson keeps Arkansas from getting back in this game.

Big Play Alert

Story after story this week talked about how big of a returner McKinstry is, but Arkansas keeps kicking to him for huge returns. Kool-Aid rips off a 45-yard return up the left sideline.

Jalen Milroe comes in to take over at quarterback for Alabama at the 17-yard line. Bama looks like they will just run this one in. It's not 1st & Goal at the Arkansas 3-yard line. 

If you were holding off on that fishing trip because Young got hurt, no need. Milroe runs in untouched and it's now officially a blowout.

3 plays, 17 yards (0:43)

ALABAMA 21, ARKANSAS 0

8:29, 2Q (21-0)

Arkansas takes over at the 25-yard line and immediately gets hit with a false start. Arkansas is rattle and looks on the verge of quitting.

Another dropped pass. This time it's Matt Landers deep down the left sideline. That brings up 2nd & 15 and Jefferson is sacked.

Arkansas runs the shuttle pass play that Sanders scored on against Missouri State on 3rd & 22. It goes nowhere and the fans are booing.

They cheered when it worked a few weeks ago, but are giving Briles an earful, most likely because of calls from last week. He couldn't have risked a pass play that deep. The Arkansas line has fallen apart and can't protect Jefferson.

6:51, 2Q (21-0)

Alabama starts at their own 41-yard line. Arkansas had a chance to send the back-up QB to the bench, but, instead, Hudson Clark whiffs on an easy tackle that would have forced a punt resulting in a 23-yard reception for Bond.

Arkansas fans have a chance to rattle the back-up QB, but they're so angry and frustrated that they're forgetting their role in the game also. This is their chance to shine and they're not bringing their A-game.

On 3rd & 3 from the Arkansas 34, Latavious Brini decides to go for an extended hug with an Alabama receiver to bail Alabama out again.

Third down again, and Roydell Williams gets the few inches needed to get the first down at the 14-yard line of Arkansas. Gibbs then scoots in for an easy touchdown, but a holding call on Javion Cohen that looked like a great block on an overwhelmed Razorback defensive lineman brings it back to the 24.

Emil Ekiyor absolutely destroys Brini on the screen, which allows Gibbs to break free for 17 yards. 

Following a penalty that gave the Arkansas defense a break, Alabama runs the same play again that went to Gibbs earlier to JoJo Earle for a touchdown. Several Razorbacks could have made the tackle, but instead decided to weakly slap at the ball instead, making it easy for Earle to get the touchdown.

Plenty to dislike about what Arkansas has shown today. These aren't the Razorbacks we've seen all year long, even as bad as the secondary has been.

10 plays, 59 yards (4:09)

ALABAMA 28, ARKANSAS 0

2:24, 2Q (28-0)

Rocket Sanders is trying to get Arkansas back in this game with a series of runs that gets Arkansas up to midfield. Jefferson then hits Landers for 20 to get the Hogs to the Alabama 35. Finally there is a little spark in the offense.

Big Play Alert

Sanders gets outside for 26 yards before plowing over the field judge and bouncing his head off the turf. He looked a little woozy getting up, but looks like he will be OK. The training staff is checking on him. Rocket tried to stop him from falling.

The stadium crew is having a bit of fun in a gloomy atmosphere. The lyrics on the loud speaker "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Big Play Alert

Jefferson finds a wide open Ketron Jackson who is able to scoop up a low throw on the last "A" in the end zone. The play is under review, but it looks like this one will be confirmed rather quickly.

As expected, the touchdown sticks and Arkansas if finally on the board with the slightest bit of hope.

9 plays, 75 yards (2:30)

ALABAMA 28, ARKANSAS 7

0:21, 2Q (28-7)

Alabama will take a knee and Arkansas will come out in the second half with the ball and a chance to cut the lead to two scores. 

HALFTIME

STATS LEADERS:

Total Offense:

Arkansas – 149

Alabama – 314

Passing:

Arkansas – KJ Jefferson      7-12-52-1-0

Alabama – Bryce Young      7-13-123-1-1

Receiving:

Arkansas – Matt Landers      1-20-0

Alabama – Kobe Prentice     3-92-1

Rushing:

 Arkansas –Raheim Sanders  10-72-0

Alabama – Jahmyr Gibbs      11-53-0

Video Report with Andy Hodges from Razorback Stadium

Coming soon.

3RD QUARTER

The first half made fans at home yearn to go outside and do yard work, but that drive at the end of the half, along with several Alabama injuries provided just enough hope to stick around few at least a few minutes of the third quarter.

However, Arkansas will need to score on its opening drive to make this a game or the CBS ratings are going to plummet and the Razorbacks may not be invited back the rest of the year to a channel that can actually be seen on Direct TV and Sling, unlike another four letter family of networks today.

15:00, 3Q

Arkansas start the second half at their own 25. Meanwhile, the East stands have a Chad Morris era look to them. Lot of empty up there. Lot of Empty.

Rocket Sanders is off and running on the first three plays of the game. He has the Hogs down to their own 40-yard line. However, a non-call on what appeared to be a pass interference by McKinstry sets up 3rd and 7. 

On the following play, Jefferson is flushed out of the pocket and doesn't trust himself to run for the first down. Instead, he tries to force it in to Jackson and it is batted away.

Arkansas will punt. For some reason the Razorbacks keep kicking to McKinstry.

A penalty will negate a huge return, pushing Alabama back inside the 10-yard line. The back-up quarterback is still in despite Young coming back with pads on.

Arkansas has Milroe trapped at the edge of the end zone on third down, but again the Razorback defense doesn't stick to its responsibilities and lets Milroe run up the middle for a long run to get out of the jam and take pressure off him.

Milroe throws it to Gibbs out of the backfield who is stopped by Blair and Sanders a half yard short at the Alabama 26. There has been nothing to indicate Arkansas could stop the Tide running game if they went for it, but Saban plays it safe with a big lead and punts.

The 50 yard punt flips the field.

10:35, 3Q

Arkansas takes over at their own 22-yard line in desperate need of something big to happen.

Jefferson fakes to Sanders who draws the entire defense to the right, allowing Jefferson to find a hole on the opposite side for a run of 9.9 yards. Sanders then runs for three yards for the first down.

Big Play Alert

Jefferson finds Knox over the middle for 36 yards to give Arkansas a bit of momentum. Knox was dominant early in the season, but this is the first big noise we've heard out of the speedy tight end in a while. The Razorbacks will set up shop at the 30-yard line.

Arkansas fails to block Will Anderson who wraps up Sanders for a 4-yard loss. That sets up third down.

Big Play Alert

Jefferson is dead to rights. He's wrapped up and being hit in the face by a defender, but is able to get the pass away to Sanders in tight coverage on 3rd & 14 while falling down. Sanders is tightly covered, but somehow shakes free despite being wrapped up to will his way to a first down.

AJ Green then finds a giant hole over the left side and scampers 13 yards untouched off the left side for a touchdown and suddenly we've got a game.

7 plays, 78 yards (2:49)

ALABAMA 28, ARKANSAS 14

Big Play Alert

Arkansas goes for the onside kick and execute it perfectly! Bates comes down with it easily! Barring a penalty, this isn't going to be overturned. 

Hogs ball!

On third down Jefferson steps up in the pocket and throws against the grain to Jackson where only he can catch it for a 17-yard pass to the Alabama 33 and a new set of downs.

Arkansas faces another third down and Jefferson goes under center on 3rd & 2 and pushes ahead for the first down.

He then takes the zone read off the left side after riding Sanders an extra beat to suck in the defense. That gains eight to the Alabama 14-yard line. Jefferson then ran up the middle for another nine yards to set up 1st & Goal at the five.

The Tide defense is on its heals. 

Arkansas takes a couple of cracks up the middle, pushing it to the 3-yard line.

Will Anderson blows up the play and Jefferson is lucky not to fumble. 

Cam Little comes in for a 22-yard field goal attempt. The field goal is good, bringing the Razorbacks to within 11. 

Momentum is now on the Hogs' side, but one big play can kill it.

12 plays, 60 yards (6:09)

ALABAMA 28, ARKANSAS 17

1:38, 3Q

Milroe bobbles the snap on the opening play and Arkansas has him stopped again, but he is a lot like Malik Hornsby in speed and slipperiness.

0:25, 3Q

The pressure of Arkansas is starting to get to Alabama. Cohen holds Zach Williams and Bama will punt. 

Big Play Alert

The deep snapper hits the up back and the ball goes rolling toward the end zone. The kicker recovers it at the 3-yard line and Arkansas will have first and goal.

Rocket Sanders and his big linemen make Alabama pay for the mistake. Sanders is in for the touchdown. Arkansas lines up to go for two while Nick Saban doesn't seem to be paying attention on the sideline.

However, the refs bail him out by calling a review of the play.

Arkansas choose to not keep Sanders in the backfield as an extra blocker. The pressure gets to Jefferson and he is stopped a half yard short. 23-0 run for the Razorbacks.

1 play, 3 yards (0:06)

ALABAMA 28, ARKANSAS 23

0:19, 3Q

If Arkansas fans need even more reason to feel good about life, Texas A&M is getting curb stomped down in Starkville right now.

Bumper Pool plants Gibbs for no gain and it'll be 2nd & 10 when we start the 4th quarter. This feels like the Cam Newton comeback against Alabama in Auburn's national championship season.

4TH QUARTER

15:00, 4Q

If anyone bailed it hit Dixon Street early, they wasted several hundred dollars. 

Here is where missing Young is turning the game. Milroe has a receiver running free in the secondary as McGlothern got beat badly. However, Milroe underthrew it and McGlothern caught up to knock it away.

Big Play Alert

Milroe isn't the best passer, but he can definitely run. He breaks free for 77 yards on 3rd & 15 to the Arkansas 3-yard line. Then the Razorbacks have a chance for an interception and can't come up with it. However, an offside call pushes it closer.

McClellan gets an open hole and gets into the end zone easily before holding up the hush sign to the crowd.

5 plays, 75 yards (1:10)

ALABAMA 35, ARKANSAS 23

14:09, 4Q (23-35)

Note to self: See if Ric Flair is available next week so he can teach the student section how to Wooooooo! without sounding like a sick wolf.

Jefferson gets the drive off to a good start an 11-yard run, but now it's 3rd & 8 at the 38-yard line. Jefferson is then dragged down from behind and the Tide are making just enough plays to keep the game under control.