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Alabama crushes Arkansas 52-0

The SportsXchange

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- A wild day in the SEC included a rather mundane and methodical evening at Bryant-Denny Stadium as top-ranked Alabama jumped ahead of Arkansas early and cruised to a 52-0 victory on Saturday night.

The victory extended Alabama's winning streak to 11 games -- dating to last season's second consecutive national championship season -- and will keep the Crimson Tide (7-0, 4-0 SEC) atop the national rankings. Arkansas fell to 3-5 overall and 0-4 in SEC play. It was the first time since 1973-74 that the Crimson Tide shut out the same SEC team two successive seasons.

Alabama coach Nick Saban will certainly find things that bothered me him during his team's latest victory, particularly during film study. But it was hard to spot on a Saturday night that Alabama appeared to do little wrong on offense, defense or special teams.

Quarterback AJ McCarron, who sat down with just under six minutes left in the third quarter after throwing for 180 yards and three touchdowns, and running backs Kenyan Drake and T.J. Yeldon led the Alabama offense to 532 yards.

Drake and Yeldon combined for 192 of Alabama's 352 rushing yards with Drake scoring two touchdowns and Yeldon adding one. Alabama's offense didn't allow a sack or turn the ball over and the Crimson Tide was not flagged for a penalty in the game.

The C.J. Mosley-led defense limited the Razorbacks to 254 yards, even though freshman running back Alex Collins managed 77 hard-earned yards on 18 carries. And Alabama's special teams contributed a blocked field goal attempt and a fumble recovery on the second-half kickoff.

"I really thought our players came out and really did a good job in this game," Saban said.

Alabama quickly headed toward a lopsided victory with touchdowns on its first two possessions. McCarron capped a 12-play, 68-yard drive on the opening possession by hitting fullback Jalston Fowler on a 4-yard touchdown pass. The Crimson Tide built the advantage to 14-0 on its next series when Drake scored on a 1-yard run.

By halftime, the Crimson Tide's lead was 28-0 with Drake's tackle-breaking 46-yard touchdown run and a 30-yard scoring hookup from McCarron to Amari Cooper providing the second-quarter points.

Any chance of Arkansas getting back into the game ended quickly in the second half. Arkansas kick returner Keon Hatcher fumbled the second half kickoff after being hit by Alabama's Derrick Henry and Eddie Jackson recovered at the Arkansas 30-yard line. McCarron hit tight end O.J. Howard on a 17-yard scoring pass three plays later and the rout was on.

Alabama dominated the second half and put an explosive finish on the victory when Henry, a 6-foot-3, 238-pound true freshman, raced 80 yards down the sideline to provide the final points.

"Looking at this game and past games, I like where we're heading right now," said Alabama offensive guard Anthony Steen on Alabama's radio network. "If we keep this up, we'll end up where we want to be."

No unit is playing better right now for the Crimson Tide than a defense that has two shutouts and allowed just 16 points in the five games since allowing 42 points in a win over Texas A&M. Alabama allowed an average of 216.6 yards in those five games.

The Crimson Tide had interceptions from Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Cyrus Jones. But the leader, once again, was Mosley, who had a team-best 10 tackles with one tackle for loss and two pass breakups. He played a big part into forcing Arkansas quarterback into a frustrating evening. Brandon Allen was 7 of 25 for 91 yards.

Perhaps the only bad thing that happened for the Alabama defense was the injury to standout safety Vinnie Sunseri. The 6-foot, 210-pound junior hurt his left knee while covering a kickoff in the first quarter and didn't return to the game. Saban said afterwards that Sunseri will have a MRI on Sunday to find out the severity of the injury.

"Vinnie is a great person and really a great player for us in so many ways," Saban said. "We are hoping for the best but that would be a tremendous loss for us."

While Alabama looks to build on its latest win, the Razorbacks need to rebound quickly after remaining winless in SEC play.

"The fan base, I know they live and die with every play, every turnover, every score," said Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, whose team rushed for 165 yards on 39 carries. "I know, it's frustrating. The biggest thing is, just like our players, we've got to keep the faith."

But, he added, it won't be a quick fix.

"Obviously this is getting a little old," Bielema said. "Nothing that we did out there today can give us any indication that the things we needed to do are that close. It's a long way to go."

NOTES: Arkansas' Bret Bielema appeared in his 100th game as a head coach on Saturday. The former Wisconsin coach was 71-28 entering Saturday's game. ... McCarron entered Saturday's game with a 31-2 record as the starting quarterback in Tuscaloosa. His winning percentage (.939) in that category is the best in SEC history.