FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Well, Alabama coach Nick Saban talked about this one being a a return to old-time, physical football.
It was at least a return to when football didn't yield a lot of points, as these two slogged their way through a game in which No. 7 Alabama (5-1, 2-1 SEC) edged out a 14-13 win over Arkansas (3-3, 0-3) in front of 72,337 inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Here's how it happened:
How the game was won: Well, it certainly wasn't pretty, as Alabama did absolutely nothing on offense for most of the first three quarters. But quarterback Blake Sims engineered an eight-play, 56-yard scoring drive that was capped with a 6-yard touchdown pass to receiver DeAndrew White with 12:36 remaining. After that, it was just more ugly, ugly offense on both sides before Landon Collins officially ended it with an interception with 1:59 left.
Game ball goes to: Alabama's defensive line was the only consistent and impressive part of the Crimson Tide's win. A'Shawn Robinson and his teammates put good pressure on Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen, but more importantly, the line helped hold the SEC's top rushing team to a season-low 89 yards and 2.3 yards per carry.
What it means: It means that Arkansas has now lost 15 straight SEC games. That's a big number, but this team will get a conference victory this season. It had opportunities to do it on Saturday night and just didn't take advantage. For Alabama, we know it isn't even close to the ones from previous years. You have no clue what you'll get from this bunch. The defense let Allen, who averaged 150 passing yards coming into the game, throw for 246 yards. Special teams is a mess in both kicking and returning (four fumbles, two lost). And Sims must regain his composure after being wildly inconsistent on Saturday.
Playoff implication: Alabama is still in the playoff race, but the team that played Arkansas wouldn't stand a chance of getting into the final four. There's a lot of work to do, but winning is the most important thing. Alabama certainly didn't get any style points in Fayetteville.
Best play: It had to be Sims' touchdown pass to White. Alabama was reeling after giving up a 54-yard touchdown pass to Allen two drives earlier and desperately needed a spark. While Arkansas coach Bret Bielema was seen trying to get a timeout called, Sims got the snap, rolled to his right, didn't find his first option and then found White wide open in the middle of the end zone.
What's next: Alabama hosts No. 14 Texas A&M Oct. 18, while Arkansas travels to Little Rock, Arkansas, to face No. 13 Georgia.