September 15, 2007: Alabama 41, Arkansas 38
You could call this one a multiple personality game.
The first phase was marked by ‘Bama’s defense selling out to stop the Arkansas running attack (a good move considering that with Monk’s absence, Casey Dick wasn’t much of a threat) and Herring’s futile effort to stay in his trademark man to man coverage against John “Call Me John Parker” Wilson and the Tide receivers. End result: Alabama raced out to a 21-0 lead before the end of the first quarter.
For the next two and a half quarters, it turned into a war of attrition. Arky began to find its footing and eventually wore the Alabama defense down with steady doses of D-Mac (33 rushes) and Felix Jones (16 rushes). Arky averaged almost six yards per rushing attempt, even though McFadden’s longest run from scrimmage was only (only for him, mind you) 23 yards.
Meanwhile, Herring stopped being stubborn with his secondary scheme and began varying looks. JPW found the going much tougher and wilted. His fumble and interception on back to back series enabled Arky to tie the game at 31 with twelve minutes left in the game.
Jones and McFadden continued to pound the exhausted Tide D and led the Hogs to a 38-31 lead at the 8 minute mark. All the momentum was with Arkansas.
And from there, inexplicably, the game entered its third and final phase. The one where Nick Saban showed us one thing: in crunch time, he can outcoach Houston Nutt.
Somehow, in the next series Bama managed to gain enough yardage with a still sputtering JP Wilson to put itself at the Arkansas 25 with under five minutes left in the game. Saban elected to kick the field goal, which was a gutty move considering Arky’s success running the ball. (It was similar to a decision that Mark Richt had made in the previous week against South Carolina that drew some criticism when the Dawgs didn’t pull out the game.) That made it 38-34 with a little over four minutes to go.
From there, the meltdown was all on the Arkansas side. First, the bizarre decision making on Arky’s next possession – putting the ball in the hands of Michael Smith three straight times and then, after making ‘Bama use up its time outs, allowing Casey Dick to throw an incomplete pass on third down to stop the clock, which gave Alabama the ball back with more than two minutes left to play. Then its defense allowed John Parker Wilson to revert to his first quarter, couldn’t miss form. On that last drive, he marched his team down the field, going 7 of 8 for 56 yards. The Hogs even managed to throw in a couple of pass interference calls for good measure.
The winning score came with 8 seconds left. That Casey Dick incomplete pass came in handy.
‘Bama fans were deliriously happy. Who could blame them? The Tide never managed a fourth quarter comeback win in four years under Mike Shula.
AP recap here.