Win Over Hogs Good Start To SEC Play

There is something of a test to playing the Southeastern Conference opener against a solid contender, particularly after games against three relatively soft opponents to start the season. That was the case for Alabama and Arkansas Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Bama passed the test with flying colors.

Alabama, ranked second in the nation, defeated Arkansas, 38-14, Saturday to improve to 4-0 overall and 1-0 in SEC play. The Razorbacks, ranked 12th in the nation prior to the game, fell to 3-1.

The Crimson Tide has an all-time record of 54-21-3 (72 per cent) in SEC openers dating back to the league's inception in 1933. Bama has won 20 straight SEC openers, every one since the 1992 national championship season.

The streak began with a 25-8 win over Vanderbilt on Sept. 5, 1992. The 20-game winning streak includes 12 wins over Vanderbilt (1992-2001, 2006-07), five wins against Arkansas (2002, 2008-10) and one win against Kentucky (2003), Mississippi (2004) and South Carolina (2005). The last time Alabama lost an SEC opener was Sept. 14, 1991, when Florida beat Alabama 35-0 in Gainesville.

The 20-game winning streak in SEC openers is the longest streak in school history and the longest active streak in the SEC. The 2011 season marked just the sixth time since divisional play began that Alabama has opened its SEC slate with a Western Division team. That also happened in 2002 (Arkansas), 2004 (Mississippi) and the last three years against (Arkansas).

Alabama leads the series with Arkansas, 12-8 (15-7 before forfeited and vacated games). Alabama and Arkansas first met on January 1, 1962, as the Tide defeated the Razorbacks, 10-3, in the Sugar Bowl en route to Alabama's sixth national championship. The Tide has won the last five meetings. Bama last lost to the Razorbacks in double overtime in Fayetteville, 24-23, on Sept. 23, 2006.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban is 8-2 all-time against Arkansas, with his only two losses coming in his first three years at LSU in Little Rock. Saban has never lost a game to Arkansas in Baton Rouge, Fayetteville or Tuscaloosa. Saban is 5-0 against Arkansas while at the helm of the Alabama program.

Alabama has been very successful in the opening month of the season under Saban. Now in his fifth season at Alabama, the Crimson Tide sports a 19-2 record in September following the win against Arkansas. Since 2008, Alabama is a perfect 16-0 in September games.

Alabama is 23-1 in its last 24 games at Bryant-Denny Stadium, dating back to the start of the 2008 season. During that stretch the Crimson Tide has been extremely stingy on defense and very effective on offense. Some of the most impressive numbers include 50 rushing touchdowns for the Alabama offense, while the Crimson Tide defense has surrendered just two rushing touchdowns at home since the beginning of the 2008 season.

Alabama has won 40 games dating back to the start of the 2008 season, which is the second-most in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Crimson Tide won 12 games in 2008, followed that with a perfect 14-0 record in 2009 and a 10-3 mark in 2010. Alabama is one win back of Boise State, with 41 wins. The Crimson Tide has the most victories of any team that plays in a BCS conference.

Alabama led at halftime against Arkansas, 17-7. With the win, the Crimson Tide is 42-3 when leading at halftime under Saban.

Alabama was behind the Arkansas line of scrimmage much of the game as the Crimson Tide recorded 10 tackles for a loss, accounting for 41 negative yards for the Razorbacks. Linebacker Dont'a Hightower led the way for the Alabama defense with 2 tackles for a loss for 8 yards and defensive tackle Jesse Williams had 2 tackles for a loss for 7 yards. Hightower led the Crimson Tide in tackles with a total of 9 stops on the day.

Alabama held Arkansas to 17 rushing yards on 19 carries in the victory today. In the 58 games under Saban, the Crimson Tide has limited the opposition to less than 100 rushing yards 35 times, or 60 percent of the time. The 19 yards on the ground by Arkansas marks the third time this season the opposition has been held under 100 yards.

Alabama allowed just seven points in the first half of the Arkansas game. The Crimson Tide has allowed seven points or less in the first half of its last nine games. The Crimson Tide has surrendered three points or less six times over that span, including three first half shutouts.

Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron was efficient in his first career SEC start. The redshirt sophomore was 15-of-20 for 200 yards with two touchdowns. The two touchdowns was a career best for McCarron.

Alabama found the end zone in a variety of ways on Saturday. The Crimson Tide threw for two touchdowns, rushed for one touchdown and returned a punt and an interception for scores. Dequan Menzie returned an interception 25 yards for a score while Marquis Maze returned a punt 83 yards. McCarron tossed two touchdown passes while Eddie Lacy rushed for a touchdown.

Alabama junior running back Trent Richardson scored his third touchdown on a play that was 50 yards or longer. All three scores have come in the last two games. Richardson found pay dirt on a 61-yard screen pass in the third quarter against Arkansas. He ran for two touchdowns against North Texas that were longer than 50 yards. He found the end zone on rushes of 71 and 58 yards against the Mean Green.

Richardson rushed for 126 yards on 17 carries against Arkansas on Saturday. The 126 yards on the ground marks the third straight game that Richardson has scampered over the 100-yard mark. Richardson has now recorded seven 100-yard games in his Alabama career.

Richardson has been scoring touchdowns at an impressive rate to start the 2011 season. In just four games, Richardson has found the end zone nine times. Richardson opened the year with three touchdowns against Kent State and followed that up with two more at Penn State. Richardson scored three touchdowns for Alabama against North Texas and added another against Arkansas. Richardson pushes his career total to 22 touchdowns on the ground and 28 overall. The 28 touchdowns (22 rush, 5 receiving, 1 return.) rank seventh on the Alabama career list. Shaun Alexander is the all-time leader at Alabama with 50 career touchdowns.

Alabama senior punt returner Marquis Maze took the first Crimson Tide opportunity of the second half for a touchdown on an 83-yard punt return. The punt return for a touchdown is the first of his career and the longest return of his career. The punt return was the first for a touchdown for Alabama since Javier Arenas found the end zone against Chattanooga on Nov. 21, 2009. The return also marked the 10th longest return for a touchdown in Alabama history.

The 1981 Alabama football team was honored in a pre-game ceremony. That Crimson Tide was a 28-17 winner over Auburn to give Coach Paul Bryant his 315th victory, making him the winningest coach in college football history.

Honorary captains from the 1981 Alabama team were former quarterback Alan Gray and former nose tackle Warren Lyles.

Captains for Alabama were tailback Trent Richardson, safety Mark Barron, linebacker Dont'a Hightower, and nose tackle Josh Chapman.

BamaMag Top Stories