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Published September 19, 2015
The Arkansas Razorbacks finally get some time to regroup after a brutal stretch in coach Bret Bielema's rebuilding process.
The latest blow was Saturday night's 52-0 loss to No. 1 Alabama to extend the Razorbacks' losing streak to five games, the last four against ranked teams.
"Definitely some physical breakdowns on the football team," Bielema said. "There's a lot of thing that happen between our ears that have an effect on our team.
"The SEC is a very competitive market. We have to get fundamentally better in so many ways."
The good news is the Razorbacks (3-5, 0-4 Southeastern Conference) have an open date where, Bielema said, "we've just got to do a lot of things in a hurry." The next game against No. 24 Auburn on Nov. 2 seems even tougher with the Tigers' upset of No. 7 Texas A&M.
For Alabama, AJ McCarron threw three touchdown passes, Kenyan Drake rushed for 104 yards and two scores, and freshman Derrick Henry tacked on an 80-yard run in the last minute as a final blow.
The Tide (7-0, 4-0) rolled to a 28-0 halftime lead on a day when No. 6 LSU, No. 7 Texas A&M, No. 11 South Carolina, No. 15 Georgia and No. 22 Florida all lost — three of them to unranked opponents.
Alabama didn't give fans anything to worry about, and many of them had streamed out of the stadium long before Henry's big run.
"We're starting to come together more," McCarron said. "Guys are starting to do the right things. Not only on the field but off the field."
The Tide has won by the same margin over Arkansas two years running.
It's the first time Alabama has shut out an SEC opponent two years in a row since wins over Mississippi State in 1973-74.
"We pride ourselves on being a tough, relentless defense and we got it done tonight," said Tide cornerback Deion Belue, who blocked a field goal to preserve the shutout.
"Having a zero at the end of the game is going to feel great. We come in to play great defense."
The Razorbacks are mired in the longest losing streak of Bielema's head coaching career — and were coming off a 52-7 loss to No. 11 South Carolina.
"This is getting a little old," he said. "It's a long way to go. We just can't have one missed tackle turn into a touchdown. It happened on two or three occasions."
The Tide outgained Arkansas 532-256 in total yards.
McCarron was 15-of-21 passing for 180 yards in three quarters, including touchdowns of 4, 30 and 17 yards.
Drake needed just eight carries to reach 100 yards for the second straight week. T.J. Yeldon had 88 yards and a 24-yard touchdown on 12 carries. Yeldon caught four passes for 45 yards.
Henry ran for 111 yards on six carries, all in the fourth quarter. The Razorbacks had allowed only eight rushing touchdowns in the first seven games, but gave up four Saturday.
Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen continued to struggle in the team's fourth consecutive game against a ranked team. He completed 7 of 25 passes for 91 yards with two interceptions.
"We have to stay together," Razorbacks defensive tackle Darius Philon said. "We've still got a whole lot of the season to go."
The Tide also managed to contain Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams, who both came in ranked among the SEC's top seven rushers. Collins ran for 77 yards on 18 carries and Williams had 13 rushes for 48 yards.
"We certainly respect their passing game but we were really trying to stop the run as much as possible," Alabama coach Nick Saban said.
Alabama has allowed just one touchdown and 16 points in its last five games.
Defensively, Alabama got one veteran safety back but might have lost another.
Vinnie Sunseri left the game with an apparent leg injury in the first quarter. He limped off the field after helping cover a kick, headed to the locker room and didn't return to the game.
Free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix returned from a two-game suspension and picked off a tipped pass for his first interception of the season after Arkansas moved into Alabama territory on its second drive.
Clinton-Dix was reinstated by the NCAA on Friday after reportedly accepting a short-term loan from an assistant strength and conditioning coach.
"It felt great just to be back with my team," he said.