Eddie Lacey rushed for three touchdowns and No. 1 Alabama took advantage of five Arkansas turnovers en route to a 52-0 complete whipping before a crowd of 74,617 at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
It was the first time the Razorbacks (1-2, 0-1) had been shutout in Fayetteville since 1966 and the worst loss since a 70-17 humbling at USC in 2005.
"I don't know what to say and I didn't know what to say to our team as well," Arkansas head coach John L. Smith said. "Again, that is about as bad as I can ever remember as a football team. It was special teams to the offense to the defense all the way through.
"What we have to do again - as a football team - let's not point any fingers and make sure we wrapped our arms around each other and come back and support each other and continue to fight, fight, fight," Smith added. "That is what we have to do.
"I told them this – I refuse to place blame on those guys," Smith continued. "The blame is here (on me). That is where the blame should come."
Those two played because starting quarterback Tyler Wilson suffered an "injury above the shoulders" last week in the loss to the Warhawks.
Smith said they knew early in the week that Wilson – who dressed out and went through pre-game warm-ups - would not play.
"Do you want me to be honest with you or do you want me to lie to you?" Smith asked the media. "We knew early on. In our heart we held out that there was some hope, but realistically as coaches we say he is not going to play this week. You had to face that music early on.
"He want and actually had an opinion and saw the specialist on Thursday," Smith added. "They decided that he wasn't going to play. So we didn't get that clearance. We didn't want to tip our hands to anybody. It was one of those things we had to do. We just had to kind of hang in there and maybe that disrupted them. Sure doesn't look like it now. It didn't have any affect on their game plan."
Smith is hopeful that Wilson can return next week when Arkansas hosts Rutgers (3-0) in a 6 p.m. game in Fayetteville.
"The biggest thing is to get him back and get him going," Smith said. "…It is a day-to-day deal. We are just keeping our fingers crossed that he can go."
Why did Wilson dress out if he wasn't going to play?
"Because it is so vital to our football team to have him out there," Smith said. "I think it also vital for the fans to see him out there to realize he is going to be okay. He just wasn't ok for this game.
"We anticipate that headaches are going to clear up and we are going to get him back out on the field," Smith added. "…He has been getting some headaches and had some symptoms. When he can exercise without any symptoms, that is when the are going to okay him."
Mitchell liked his team's effort early on, but not so much after halftime - when it was 24-0.
"We had good intensity to start the game," Mitchell said. "Obviously it wasn't good enough, with the score what it was. You have to give Alabama credit, they're the number one team for a reason. I feel like we came to fight in the first half, but in the second half, I didn't think the effort was there. I thought we were playing the scoreboard instead of concentrating on execution. That is something we can work on going forward."
Knile Davis had 20 carries for 73 yards and Chris Gragg two catches for 33 yards I a game where Arkansas had three yards total offense at the end of the first quarter, 44 at halftime and 90 entering the fourth quarter.
Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron was 11-of-16 for 189 yards while the Tide (3-0) – who had 438 yards total offense – had three players with over 50 yards rushing for head coach Nick Saban.
"What we've really been fighting with this group about ever since the Michigan game is allowing ourselves to accept average and getting them to demand more of themselves," Saban said. "I think we started to gain a bit today. As we got into the game, I was really pleased with the way we played.
"Especially offensively, we had a lot of good drives after the first quarter," Saban added.
Saban said that he understands what has happened to Arkansas without Wilson.
"I think everybody should have a tremendous amount of understanding for Arkansas' circumstances," Saban said. "Tyler Wilson is one of the best quarterbacks in the country and the whole program is built around the guy. The whole team is built around the guy in terms of what they do on offense and they are really good when he is playing.
"They were really good last year," Saban added. "They were really good when his was playing this year up until he got hurt. I'm sure it is difficult for the players, because he is the guy that's the leader of the team, that can take the team to the promise land and he's not out there playing.
"And the whole team is built around him – what they did on offense, the whole thing," Saban continued. "Now he's not there. The other guys have to go in there and it's an opportunity to do the job. I think when he comes back Arkansas is going to have a really good football team. I think defensively they play with a lot of toughness and effort. They were a little down today."
The Hogs averaged only 2.2 yards per snap, but that wasn't the worst of it. They had five turnovers and key mistakes in special teams.
After getting a three-and-out from the defense on Alabama's first possession, the Hogs self destructed on their second punting chance. It will go down as a failed fourth down, but the bad snap was like a turnover that gave Bama the ball on the Arkansas 6-yard line.
Smith swapped out deep snappers because of what he said was coverage issues.
"I made the decision to start with a different center and that was when we got the first bad snap and that was a real, real negative to start," Smith said. "I do not blame that young man. I blame myself for putting him in that position. So that should never happen. You want to blame anybody, blame me.
"That's where it started and it went downhill from there," Smith understated.
Two Alabama penalties helped the Hogs move to the Alabama 20-yard line, but that drive ended when Allen threw behind Gragg on third-and-12. Zach Hocker -- with the snap just a bit high -- missed a 41-yard field goal. The kick hit the left up right.
Allen's interception preceded the second Alabama touchdown, a 67-yard march that made it 17-0.
Cobi Hamilton had an Allen pass go off his hands in the rain that was intercepted and returned to the Arkansas 3-yard line. It took three plays for Bama to make it 24-0, the halftime score.
It was really over before the Arkansas offense got a chance in the third quarter. The Tide went 75 yards in six plays with the second-half kickoff. Then, after Dennis Johnson fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, the Tide went 27 yards in two plays.
Davis fumbled the ball away at the Bama 16-yard line on a third-and-14 play that gained only 1 yard. Alabama cashed that with an 80-yard TD march. Davis lost another fumble at the Arkansas 24-yard line and the Bama reserves cashed that in just two plays to make it 52-0.
"As we look at it, we are going to have to continue to analyze what we are giving our young men to do," Smith said. "Whatever it is we are giving them, we are going to have to make sure we put a plan together that they can execute. If it is one defense, we play one defense. We have to execute it.
"If we are just going to run a couple of plays, we just have to run a couple of plays and execute those plays," Smith said.
Arkansas defensive tackle Alfred Davis said he delivered a message to his teammates.
"The message is to stay together, don't go away from the team," Davis said "Don't point fingers, in which, there is nobody pointing fingers."
Austin Flynn stops Alabama back T. J. Yeldon.
Brandon Allen looks down field for a pass receiver.
Kaelon Kelleybrew closes in on Kenny Bell.
Knile Davis fights for yardage.
Brandon Mitchell breaks two tackles for a first down.
Byran Jones closes in on a tackle.
A. J. McCarron was 11 of 16 and Alabama did not have a turnover.
Chris Gragg led the Hogs with three receptions.
John L. Smith said he was at a loss for words after the loss.
Knile Davis rushed 20 times for 59 net yards.
Brandon Mitchell completed one of seven passes.
Photos by Marc F. Henning, Hawgs Illustrated