FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Virtually all of Arkansas’ promotional material over the last week has included the phrase — or hashtag — “Be louder.” And when the Hogs’ game against No. 1 Alabama kicked off Saturday, fans eagerly complied.
Game day is finally here.
Be LOUDER. BEAT Bama. pic.twitter.com/euHKY1PoBo
— Razorback Football (@RazorbackFB) October 8, 2016
But things got considerably quieter after kickoff. And by the time the second half started, there were noticeable pockets of empty seats scattered throughout Donald W. Reynolds Stadium.
Alabama 49, Arkansas 30.
We will have plenty of coverage of the Razorbacks’ loss here on SECCountry.com, but for now, here’s some quick instant analysis.
Despite Alabama being in firm control of this one from the start, Arkansas was driving with a chance to pull within two scores early in the fourth quarter. Then, on second-and-18 from the Alabama 20, quarterback Austin Allen was under pressure — a common theme throughout the night — and threw off his back foot, resulting in his third interception of the game.
Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick picked it off in the end zone and returned it all the way for a touchdown, the Crimson Tide’s second defensive touchdown of the game. It put Alabama up 49-24.
— Eric Bolin (@ericwbolin) October 9, 2016
Is Arkansas ready to take the next step and become an elite SEC program?
The talent gap was evident from the beginning of this game. The Bama defensive front entirely overmatched Arkansas’ offensive line. The middle of the Hogs’ defense was wide open all night.
Arkansas still has games against Ole Miss, Auburn, Florida and LSU left to prove that it is a better team than it was a year ago. But Bret Bielema’s fourth season clearly won’t be the one where the Hogs join the SEC’s elite.
Can Allen continue taking this beating week in and week out?
Arkansas’ porous offensive line doesn’t seem to have improved at all since the beginning of the season. Allen was sacked 6 times by the Crimson Tide.
Yes, Alabama’s defensive line is one of the best in the country. But offensive line play was a problem against Louisiana Tech and even — to some degree — against Alcorn State.
Allen has proven himself to be one tough son of a gun. It’s pretty amazing to think how good he could be with even a decent offensive line protecting him.
Alabama averaged 10.1 yards per play.
That’s one first down per offensive snap.
What it means
It means that Arkansas ain’t winning the SEC West this season. The Hogs now have two conference losses, and the two teams that beat them — Alabama and Texas A&M — both remain undefeated.