Alabama gets back to its roots in comeback victory

Alabama Crimson Tide running back Mark Ingram smiles on the sideline during the second half of their NCAA football game with the Duke Blue Devils in Durham, North Carolina September 18, 2010. REUTERS/Jim R. Bounds (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

While the face of college football is constantly changing, one thing seems to remain a constant: If you can play good defense and run the ball, you’re going to win a lot of football games.

Alabama has those qualities, which is why its the reigning national champion, and the current No. 1 team in the country.

The Tide fell behind today, but on the back of its defense and run game clawed back into its game with Arkansas and eventually picked up a 24-20 win in front of a raucous crowd in Fayetteville.

Mark Ingram ran for 157 yards, many of which came with one or more Razorback on his back. His counterpart Trent Richardson added 85 more yards, and the team finished with 228 on the ground. It was punctuated with a 2-yard run by Greg McElroy on fourth-and-inches from midfield with under a minute to play. I’d say Nick Saban made a gutty call going for it in that situation, but I don’t know if anyone had any doubt the Tide was going to convert at that point.

The defense gave up some yards to Ryan Mallett, who threw for 357, but they also forced a career-high three interceptions from the highly-touted quarterback. Two of those came in the final 5 minutes, one setting up the go-ahead score. Arkansas isn’t much of a running team, but it was held to 64 yards on 20 carries.

This was just the first game in a really tough three-game stretch for Alabama, but it’s arguably the toughest of the three. Florida is next, but that’s at home, and the Gators’ offense doesn’t seem like it will pose much of a threat. That’s followed by a trip to South Carolina, and while the Gamecocks look much improved this year, I don’t think they’re ready for the Crimson Tide.

I had my doubts early in the year about Alabama’s chances to repeat, but Ingram and Richardson can run on anyone, and that defense — which just passed what will be its toughest test of the season — is only going to continue to get better. At this point, I don’t know who can beat the Tide.

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