Every college football team has a game or two during the season they win that they probably shouldn’t have.
That may very well be the case in top-ranked Alabama’s thrilling 24-20 victory over 10th-ranked Arkansas in Fayetteville Saturday afternoon.
After a sluggish first half that saw the Crimson Tide down 17-7 at intermission, turnovers and the running of Mark Ingram turned the tide in the second half, allowing ‘Bama to escape with a 4-0 record.
Ingram rushed for 157 yards and scored on a 1-yard run with 3:18 to go, as Alabama rallied from a 13-point deficit in the second half for the win in front of an Arkansas (3-1, 1-1) record home crowd of 76,808.
Robert Lester set up the score with his second interception of the day against Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett. Ingram punched it in three plays later to put ‘Bama up for good.
Arkansas, however, got the ball back and looked to be driving, but Mallet was picked off again, this time by Dre Kirkpatrick. That allowed ‘Bama to eventually run the clock out on a drive that included QB Greg McElroy converting a fourth and inches.
Hot in the first half, Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett threw for 357 yards on 25 for 38 passing, but a pair of fourth quarter interceptions turned the tide against the Hogs.
Despite McElroy throwing multiple interceptions for only the second time in his career, Alabama leaned on Ingram and a young secondary to score the win, leaving McElroy unbeaten in his college career.
McElroy finished the contest 18-of-26 for 197 yards with a touchdown and the two picks. Junior receiver Julio Jones paced the Crimson Tide receivers with five catches for 55 yards.
Trent Richardson scored on a 20-yard screen pass from McElroy in the final minute of the third quarter, and Jeremy Shelley’s 36-yard field goal with 6:01 to play to trim the Hogs’ lead to 20-17.
Alabama’s schedule gets no easier next weekend, as the Crimson Tide host rival Florida at 7 p.m. (Central Time) on CBS.
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Written by Dave Thomas