The game reminded me of that hilarious scene from "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
Remember when the guy confronts Indiana Jones and goes through those fancy martial arts maneuvers and footwork, twirling swords and sabres in the razzle-dazzle routine? Indiana Jones then nonchalantly pulls out a pistol and shoots the adversary in his tracks.
Arkansas vs. Alabama was like that.
The Razorbacks, puffed up by wins against three light pastry teams, went into Tuscaloosa with a well-hyped, potentially dynamic receiver corps and a Bobby Petrino razzle-dazzle offensive mystique.
The Crimson Tide played time-honored, basic, smash-mouth football and crushed the Hogs and their BCS title dreams.
What we saw was the difference between a good team and a bona fide national championship contender.
More than three touchdowns.
This was a dose of reality resembling a shot of cold water to the faces of Razorback supporters.
Alabama is one of the nation’s best football teams that tossed one that was speculated to be one of the Southeastern Conference’s best all over the field with a solid whipping in all three phases — offense, defense and kicking game. Actually, five phases — add preparation and psychological.
There were UA fans, too energized by three victories that really proved nothing other that the Hogs could run roughshod over what the late coach Sporty Carpenter would describe as "chitlins," who boldly predicted on talk radio that the Hogs would march into Bryant-Denny Stadium and give the Tide a whoopping. A few well-respected pundits believed and got really excited that this was the Razorbacks’ best chance of victory over Alabama.
But Bobby Petrino and his staff can’t just blink their eyes, snap their fingers and create a monster that can slap about the Crimson Tide.
Knile Davis and Jake Bequette wouldn’t have made that much difference.
Alabama was clearly the better football team and it didn’t take a football expert to see that.
All you really need is two statistics: Arkansas was held to three and out on nine of its first 13 possessions. The Hogs had minus yards rushing late into the contest.
Crushing the Hogs’ running attack meant the Tide could handcuff the Hogs’ receivers except for an occasional flurry.
These realities were exposed for the Razorbacks:
• Their offensive line is suspect against a high-echelon team.
• Ronnie Wingo is a decent back. He is not a great back. He is a tentative back. He cannot punish teams.
Against good teams, the Hogs have to run the ball a little bit and that aspect is a big question mark.
• Quarterback Tyler Wilson is one tough sucker. The Tide knocked him down like a duck in a shooting gallery. Sometimes, he was a sitting duck, never had a chance. And he got back up and played hard.
• The UA defensive line may not be able to match power on power by a good team. Granted, not many lines can against Alabama.
• Again, the Hogs were exposed Saturday as a poor-tackling team.
And that marshmallow of a non-conference schedule in no way prepared the Hogs for what they faced in Tuscaloosa. It allowed some UA players and fans to get a false sense of security about how good the Hogs were. Missouri State is not as good as the University of Central Arkansas. New Mexico lost Saturday to NCAA FCS Sam Houston State, which defeated UCA the week before. Troy is better than the other two, but it’s nowhere close to a top-50 team.
It’s a dilemma. The UA doesn’t want to have too many early tests before a brutal SEC schedule. But this schedule was too extreme the other way. The Razorbacks rented sure wins, but they paid the price against Alabama.
Here’s the problem now. The Hogs must now play a highly motivated Texas A&M team on a mission. Aggie and Texas connections tell me that Texas A&M considers this game second only to Texas this season. That mindset has been enhanced by the Aggies’ acceptance into the SEC. It’s a statement game for Texas A&M. A loss will put the Hogs at 3-2 without a quality win almost midway through the season.
The Razorbacks are likely better than they showed against Alabama and they will no doubt have their good moments and go to a bowl.
But they have been swept to the shores of reality by the Tide.
They’ll have to play and prove themselves for awhile in shallower waters.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org)