Football defeats Arkansas, clinches SEC West 


CW / Davida Franklin

Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams jumps over an Arkansas defender to catch a pass from Bryce Young on Saturday, Nov. 21.

Robert Cortez | @robertcortez27, Assistant Sports Editor

In the final home game of the season, 98,323 people filed into Bryant-Denny Stadium to watch Alabama football defeat the No. 21 Arkansas Razorbacks 42-35. With the win, Alabama clinches the SEC West and heads to its 10th SEC championship appearance under head coach Nick Saban.

“It was a tough team win for us, and to come out and win the West and on top is always good,” quarterback Bryce Young said. 

First Half

The Alabama offense highlighted the first half as it posted a conference-high 24 points. Alabama converted 14 first downs — seven each in the first and second quarters. That was two more than the Razorback offense and 345 total yards. 

Young threw for 287 of the offense’s total yards in the first half. The Heisman hopeful completed three touchdown passes. Wide receiver Jameson Williams had two touchdown receptions with John Metchie III tallying the other. Both Metchie and Williams had over 100 yards in the first half. 

“It’s the same thing, just taking what they give us and exploiting the holes in the defense and being aggressive while doing it,” Metchie said. 

Williams’ second touchdown marked his fourth receiving touchdown of 75 yards or more this season. He became the first Alabama player in program history to do so.

Although Alabama was able to sling the ball down and across the field, they tallied a slim 58 rushing yards. Its biggest play on the ground was a 10-yard gain from running back Brian Robinson Jr.  

The Alabama defense had a dominating start to the game. The Crimson Tide shut out the Razorbacks up until the final six minutes of the second quarter when Arkansas scored two touchdowns. 

Along with the two touchdowns, the Crimson Tide defense surrendered 244 total yards in the half. 

Alabama went into halftime leading 24-14. This marked its largest lead heading into halftime in conference play since its game against Mississippi State on Oct. 16. 

Second Half

Neither offense slowed down coming out of the break. Both squads scored touchdowns on their opening drives. 

Young followed his big first half with an equally impressive second half. He threw for 272 yards and two touchdowns and scrambled into the end zone to convert a two-point conversion. 

Young finished the day with a 78% completion percentage, five touchdowns and 561 yards. His passing performance made him the all-time single-game passing leader.

“I wasn’t aware until people started telling me,” Young said. “It’s a blessing for sure.”

Similar to the first half, the rushing game was minimal as Alabama gained 54 yards on the ground. Alabama finished the game with 112 rushing yards, averaging just above 3 yards per carry. However, Saban still found light in the rushing attack. 

“You might say we only had 100 and some yards rushing, but we had a lot of situations where we put ourselves in a positive, beneficial situation,” Saban said.  

One of Arkansas’ three touchdowns in the half came off a fake field goal attempt with 11:24 remaining in the fourth quarter. Razorbacks punter Reid Bauer completed a 32-yard pass to tight end Blake Kern to pull off the successful fake field goal attempt for a touchdown. 

Saban said his team prepared for a fake field goal attempt during the week, as Arkansas did the same thing to LSU the week prior, but junior DeMarcco Hellams got tangled up with the referee.

The 35 points given up by the Alabama defense is the most since its loss to Texas A&M on Oct. 9. The defense finished the game giving up 468 yards and 21 first downs. Luckily for the defense, Young and the rest of the offense had their back. 

“We’re definitely a unit,” linebacker Henry To’oTo’o said. “We back each other up and make sure our heads are high.”

Alabama will travel to face in-state rival Auburn for the Iron Bowl. The game is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 27, at 2:30 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on CBS.