TUSCALOOSA | It began with a slick bit of trickery, but by the time it was over, Arkansas knew it hadn't only been fooled. The Hogs had been flattened.
The No. 3 University of Alabama scored touchdowns from various sources Saturday, including the field-goal team, the defense, the punt return unit and, finally, the offense, rolling past No. 14 Arkansas 38-14 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
"They beat us in all three phases of the game," said Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino. "They gave us a chance to come out in the second half and do something offensively and we just couldn't.
"They made big plays and we didn't."
Arkansas came into the game averaging 47 points per game in its three season-opening wins, but was quickly rendered one-dimensional, rushing for just 17 net yards.
"That's our game plan, just to out-physical them," said Alabama defensive end Jesse Williams.
Alabama also showed it wasn't all brawn and no brains with its first touchdown. The Crimson Tide's initial drive stalled at the Arkansas 37 and Cade Foster came on for what seemed to be a 54-yard field goal attempt. But all was not as it seemed. AJ McCarron, the Crimson Tide quarterback and holder, stood up, took the snap and found tight end Michael Williams all alone for an easy 37-yard touchdown.
"We made up our minds before the game that we were going to run that fake the first time we were in field goal range, whether we were up 21 or down 21 or whatever," said Tide head coach Nick Saban. "We've practiced it a long time, so I am glad we executed."
Arkansas came back with a solid touchdown of its own, tying the score at 7-7 late in the first quarter. And, even though Alabama regained the lead with a short Jeremy Shelley field goal in the second quarter, the kick came after a goal-line stand in which the Razorbacks stopped Alabama three times from the 1-yard line.
That seemed to give Arkansas momentum, but it vanished almost instantly as DeQuan Menzie tipped a Tyler Wilson pass, intercepted it and ran 25 yards for a score that gave Alabama the 17-7 lead it carried into halftime.
The knockout punch for Alabama (4-0) may have come early in the third quarter, when UA punt returner Marquis Maze fielded a punt at the 17-yard line and went 83 yards on a return that sparked memories of former Tide great David Palmer.
The big-play explosion continued when Trent Richardson, who had 235 all-purpose yards, broke loose for 61 yards on a screen pass from McCarron. The teams swapped scores late in the third quarter, with Eddie Lacy's 4-yard run capping Alabama's 38-14 win.
Saban had positive words for his own team - and for the UA fans that he had challenged to "be loud" during his Thursday radio show.
"I can't thank our fans enough for the way they affected this game," Saban said.
Alabama will play at Florida next Saturday in a nationally-televised (CBS) 7 p.m. contest.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com.