No. 1 Alabama Deals Defeat to Arkansas in Tuscaloosa

The Razorbacks needed to come up with their best game in the Chad Morris era to upset No. 1 Alabama on Saturday night, but a slew of turnovers and missed opportunities led to a Crimson Tide blowout.

Alabama (8-0, 5-0) cruised to a 48-7 victory over the Razorbacks (2-6, 0-5) in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night.

The Razorbacks managed to drive down the field on Alabama multiple times early in the game but could not put points on the board.

The Razorbacks punted on their first drive and fumbled on their second drive. In the third drive of the game for the Razorbacks, starting quarterback Nick Starkel, a junior, threw a pick. All three turnovers were in Alabama territory, meaning the Hogs did have some offensive success. However, the Hogs’ mistakes resulted in a quick 17-0 lead for Alabama.

Starkel went 5-19 for 58 yards and 3 interceptions. Starkel’s last play before halftime was a pick six that put Alabama up 41-0 going into the second half. Quarterback Ben Hicks, a senior, did not play in the game. Hicks is dealing with a banged-up shoulder that allowed Arkansas fans to get their first glimpse of freshman QB John Stephen Jones this year after the game got out of hand.

Arkansas coach Chad Morris was looking for a spark and found one when he put Jones in. Jones came in and engineered a scoring drive to prevent Alabama from earning their first shutout of this season.

The team also had success with him in a previous drive but elected to put Starkel back in after using Jones for run plays. On the scoring drive, Jones earned his first touchdown of the year as he threw for 49 yards on 6-7 passing. Morris must now figure out if Jones showed enough promise to get the start next week.

Alabama had its best defensive performance all season. The Crimson Tide defense put 21 points on the board off of turnovers helping them them cruise past the Razorbacks. The four turnovers may not have changed the game, but they definitely prevented the Razorbacks from staying in this game and competing with the Crimson Tide.

Alabama running backs managed to total 179 yards and two touchdowns on the Razorbacks. Arkansas managed just 114 yards rushing. Arkansas running back Rakeem Boyd, who is now third in rushing in the SEC, managed to lead all Razorbacks in catches and rushing yards. Boyd had 12 carries for 50 yards while also catching 4 passes for 55 yards.

Arkansas tight end Cheyenne O’Grady, who broke the Razorback tight end touchdown record against the Crimson Tide, was the only receiver to catch a touchdown pass but was only able to manage 13 yards on four catches. Treylon Burks, a freshman wide receiver, and O’Grady were the only Razorbacks to catch a pass who are not running backs on the team. 

Arkansas coach Chad Morris was not pleased with his team’s effort and said he does not believe any team can beat a good squad when they commit four turnovers that helped the opposing team score 21 points.

“No one can spot a team of this caliber with a short field and expect to be in the ballgame,” Morris said. “We weren’t, and it got away from us early on in the first half.”

Arkansas will be back in action as they host Mississippi State at 3:00 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, hoping for its first conference win. The game will be televised by the SEC Network.

Drew Watzke is the sports editor of the Arkansas Traveler. Previously, he worked as a sports writer and columnist from 2018-2019.

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