After all the frustrations of late, Nick Saban at least had his comic timing down pat.
The Alabama coach, following a 14-13 win over Arkansas and a second straight game filled with turnovers and key penalties, had his deadpan response ready when asked about the reasons for the mistakes.
"I have no idea. ... When I know why we do all those things, I will quit doing this," he said. "Because that means I'm smarter than everybody, and I can do something else."
Still, No. 7 Alabama (5-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) had plenty of reasons to enjoy the comeback win. Unlike a week ago, when No. 3 Mississippi outscored the Crimson Tide 20-3 in the second half of a 23-17 victory, Alabama found a way to rally against the Razorbacks (3-3, 0-3).
A second straight loss Saturday all but would have eliminated the Crimson Tide from consideration for the inaugural College Football Playoff. It was a scenario that looked very possible when Arkansas took a 13-7 lead into the fourth quarter — benefiting from four Alabama special teams fumbles, two of which were lost.
However, after struggling to find the answers for stopping the Arkansas offense for much of the first half, Alabama's defense looked like vintage Alabama in the second — limiting the SEC's top rushing offense to 5 yards on 13 carries.
The Razorbacks still outgained the Crimson Tide 335-227, but they gained only 35 yards on 16 plays in the fourth quarter — giving Saban his 84th win in 100 games at Alabama. He's only the third coach to lead Alabama in as many as 100 games, joining Bear Bryant and Frank Thomas.
Linebacker Reggie Ragland had a career-high 12 tackles in the Crimson Tide win, and Landon Collins helped seal the victory with a late interception of Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen.
Overall, Alabama — which entered the game leading the SEC by allowing only 64 yards rushing per game — held the Razorbacks to 89 yards rushing on 39 carries. Arkansas entered the game averaging 316.6 yards rushing per game.
"Our offense is great, but that's our defensive standard," Collins said. "We want to stop any offense from making any plays on us."
While Alabama managed to bounce back from its disappointing loss to the Rebels, the Razorbacks were once again left wondering what might have been after seeing another fourth quarter lead squandered.
Coach Bret Bielema fought back tears after the loss, which marked Arkansas' 15th straight in SEC play. The Razorbacks led by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter against Texas A&M two weeks ago before falling in overtime, and this latest loss sent Bielema to 0-11 in conference play since leaving Wisconsin.
"We're so close," Allen said. "And I think that's what we're all tired of is saying that we're close. It's time for us to go and win."
Arkansas' quest for an SEC win doesn't get any easier this week when it plays in Little Rock against No. 10 Georgia. The Crimson Tide return home this week for the first time since Sept. 20, facing the No. 21 Aggies.
Saban, for one, was more focused on the relief of Alabama's win on Saturday night than looking ahead — with good reason. For a second straight week, the Crimson Tide appeared vulnerable but won.
"We had a lot more energy and enthusiasm out there today than we did last week," Saban said. "That's what won the game. We played a lot harder in this game than we did, I think."