Go ahead, tell me a team that wants to play Alabama right now.
The Crimson Tide destroyed Arkansas 38-14 at Bryant-Denny Stadium, announcing to the nation — if it didn’t know already — that they were once again a serious national title contender.
But it wasn’t just the score, it was the way the Tide dominated every facet of the game to pick up the blowout victory. Trent Richardson ran wild, accumulating 126 yards on 17 carries, and 85 yards and a touchdown on three receptions. A.J. McCarron was pretty near perfect, going 15-of-20 for 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
And the defense. Oh, the defense.
Arkansas finished with 226 total yards, almost all of which came through the air. The Razorbacks run game managed just 17 (!) yards on 19 carries. Yes, math majors, that’s less than one yard per carry. The ‘Bama defense/special teams also chipped in offensively with an interception return for a touchdown and a beautiful punt return for a score by Marquis Maze. On the return, Maze cut back across about half of the Arkansas coverage team (that might be a slight exaggeration), and then cut back on the final guy just for the heck of it. It was as if he wanted the Arkansas trainers to have one more set of ankles to tape this week.
Alabama has another test next week against Florida. The Gators have the type of speed on offense that can score on anyone if given room, but something tells me Nick Saban will outwit Charlie Weis and figure out how to not give those guys room. The big matchup, of course, is Nov. 5 at home against LSU. That will very likely be for the SEC West title, which essentially means a trip to the national title game. Both defenses are outstanding, but at this point you’d have to give a major edge to the Tide offensively.
Some other thoughts from today’s daytime games:
– Ohio State has found its quarterback, and I think a lot of people knew it was going to happen. Braxton Miller didn’t have eye-popping passing numbers by any stretch (5-of-13, 83 yards and a pair of touchdowns), but he used his feet to gain 83 more yards. With either quarterback, Ohio State is going to have to go through some growing pains in the passing game, so it makes the most sense to stick with the youngster who adds an extra dimension to the game.
– Oklahoma State did its part to make sure Texas A&M doesn’t leave the Big 12 with a conference title. The Cowboys rallied to beat A&M 30-29 at Kyle Field, in what is likely the last conference meeting between the two schools. The Aggies, who look to be headed to the SEC next season, jumped out to a 20-3 lead before surrendering 27 straight points to the Cowboys. A&M can still win the Big 12, but it will need some help, and a win against No. 1 Oklahoma. Good luck with that.
– Tommy Rees was horrible for most of Notre Dame’s game against Pitt, but the sophomore found a way to come up bit when it mattered, going 8-of-8 on the Irish’s final touchdown drive to give his team a 15-12 win. On the touchdown, Rees fit a pass through a tiny hole to tight end Tyler Eifert. It was the kind of crisp, decisive pass he hadn’t made all game. His ability to bounce back must be what keeps him in games, because Brian Kelly has certainly had a lot longer leash with Rees than he did with Dayne Crist.