Alabama vs Arkansas: A Historical Retrospective

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Alabama and Arkansas are odd rivals, teams whose respective conference affiliations kept them for meeting on the gridiron for most of their long histories but who have met on an annual basis since the expansion of the SEC in 1992 made them divisional foes.

It’s a rivalry without a backstory except for two memorable games played for the highest stakes -- the 1962 and 1980 Sugar Bowls. Winning that first gave the Crimson Tide its first national title under Coach Paul W. Bryant and winning the second earned Alabama its last under his tenure.

The 1962 Sugar Bowll matched Coach Bryant against the Razorbacks’ own legendary head coach, Frank Broyles (who Alabama fans will also recognize for his color commentary work for ABC broadcast of the 1979 Sugar Bowl).

Alabama rolled undefeated into New Orleans’ Tulane Stadium with one of the most successful defenses the program had ever seen. The Tide had given up a total of 22 points over ten games prompting Coach Bryant to quip, "they played like it was a sin to give up a point."

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Alabama had been named the champions prior to the contest and were favored against the two-loss Hogs who were the Southwest Conference co-champions that season. Despite the differing perceptions of the two teams the game turned into a defensive battle.

The Crimson Tide took six plays to score their first touchdown which turned out to be the difference as both squads could only eke out a single field goal after that. The final score was 10-3 and Coach Bryant confessed to having "had nine heart attacks out there" due to the intensity of the contest.

"We knew when we went into the game that we were going to have trouble grinding out yardage against this team." Broyles said after the game. "But, we never thought it would be this hard."

Just less than two decades later, the two teams met again in the Superdome under dramatically different circumstances. Alabama – the defending national champions - were ranked No. 2 in the land and Arkansas was No. 6 as the pair squared off in the 1980 Sugar Bowl.

Alabama had blasted its way through the regular season undefeated but 1979 had proved to be tumultuous for the Razorbacks who came into New Orleans with a 10-2 record. The Hogs had upended then No. 2 Texas in Little Rock but then saw the SWC title escape them when they fell to No. 6 Houston in Fayetteville. Redemption was not in the cards for Arkansas on New Year’s Day 1980.

The Crimson Tide blasted the Razorbacks 24-9 behind a powerful running attack that earned Bama back Major Ogilve the Sugar Bowl MVP. With previously unbeaten and untied No. 1 Ohio State falling to the USC Trojans in the Rose Bowl earlier in the day, Alabama earned its 11th national championship.

After the Sugar Bowl victory, Alabama defensive lineman Byron Braggs famously quipped: "The only feeling better than playing for the national title in New Orleans on January 1 is being in Tuscaloosa on January 2 to celebrate winning it."

Between the two legendary meetings stood one highly controversial one that didn’t transpire. After the end of the 1964 regular season the undefeated Crimson Tide were tapped as national champion by both the Associated Press and UPI "coaches poll" ahead of also-undefeated No. 2 Arkansas.

But Alabama was upended by No. 5 Texas in the Orange Bowl - a team Arkansas had bested during the season. (Arkansas topped No. 7 Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl) Since there were no further polls, Alabama retained the national championship.

The Football Writers of America in a post-bowl recognized the Razorbacks as the national champion in their separate post bowl award, The Grantland Rice trophy. Due to the controversy, the AP began the practice of selecting its national champion after the bowl games the following season.

Ironically, the first "regular season" game between the teams also had championship implications as the razorback defeat was part of Alabama’s undefeated run through 1992 which earned the Crimson Tide a berth in the Sugar Bowl against No. 1 Miami.

Alabama vs Arkansas Historical Record

Season W/L Score Date Location Game Info/Poll Rank
1961‡† W 10 - 3  Jan. 1, 1962 New Orleans Sugar Bowl Alabama (1) Arkansas (9)
1979‡† W 24 - 9 Jan. 1, 1980 New Orleans Sugar Bowl Alabama (2) Arkansas (6)
1992‡† W 38 - 11 Sept. 12 Little Rock, AR Alabama (9)
1993 W 43 - 3 Sept. 18 Tuscaloosa, AL Alabama (2)
Forfeited by the NCAA
1994 W 13 - 6 Sep. 17 Fayetteville, AR Alabama (12)
1995 L 19 - 20 Sept. 16 Tuscaloosa, AL Alabama (13)
1996 W 17 - 7 Sept. 21 Little Rock, AR Alabama (13)
Alabama's 1,000th game
1997 L 16 -17 Sept. 20 Tuscaloosa, AL Alabama (11)
1998 L 6 - 42 Sept. 26 Fayetteville, AR Alabama (22)
1999† W 35 - 28 Sept. 25 Tuscaloosa, AL Alabama (14)
2000 L 21 - 28 Sept. 23 Fayetteville, AR
2001 W 31 - 10 Sept. 22 Tuscaloosa, AL
2002 W 30 -12 Sept. 28 Fayetteville, AR Alabama (9)
2003 L 31 - 34 Sept. 27 Tuscaloosa, AL 2OT
2004 L 10 - 27 Sept. 25 Fayetteville, AR
2005 W 24 - 13 Sept. 24 Tuscaloosa, AL Alabama (20)
Vacated by the NCAA
2006 L 23 - 24 Sept. 23 Fayetteville, AR 2OT
2007 W 41 - 38 Sept. 15 Tuscaloosa, AL Arkansas (16)
Vacated by the NCAA
2008 W 49 - 14 Sept. 20 Fayetteville, AR Alabama (9)
2009‡† W 35 - 7 Sept. 26 Tuscaloosa, AL Alabama (3)

‡ National Champion, † SEC Champion

Source: The University of Alabama 2010 Football Media Guide

 

The Alabama vs Arkansas Record Book

Record Alabama Arkansas
Most Points 49 (2008) 42 (1998)
Fewest Points 6 (1998) 3 (2 times)
Most 1st Down 24 (2 times) 28 (2003)
Fewest 1st Down 7 (1998) 7 (1962)
Most Yards Rush 328 (2008) 301 (2007)
Fewest Yards Rush 104 (1998) 64 (1999)
Most Yards Pass 327 (2007) 316 (1999)
Fewest Yards Pass 20 (1962) 49 (1993)
Most Total Plays 81 (1992) 88 (2003)
Fewest Total Plays 50 (2008) 48 (1962)
Most Yds Tot Off 552 (2002) 491 (2003)
Fewest Yds Tot Off 152 (1998) 151 (1993)
Most Yards Rush 170
(R Hudson, 2004)
198
(C Cobbs, 1998)
Most Yards Pass 327
(JP Wilson, 07)
316
(C Stoerner, 99)
Most Receptions 9
(M Caddell, 2007)
7
(4 times)
Most Yards Rec 172
(DJ Hall, 2007)
104
(A Eubanks, 1997)

Source: The University of Alabama Football Record Book

 

Arkansas & The Alabama Record Book

Record Place Year Statistic Holder
Most Consecutive Rushes 1st 1994 15 Sherman Williams
Most Pass Yds in QB Debut 1st 2002 285 (12 cpl, 24, att, 0 int) Brodie Croyle
Most Tackles 1st 2003 25 DeMeco Ryans
Yards per Rush (min 10 att) 1st 2008 16.2 (10 att, 162 yd, 2 td) Glen Coffee
Longest Field Goals 2nd
1998 55 yds (no tee) Ryan Pflungner
Most Pass TD in QB Debut 2nd (tie) 2002
2
Brodie Croyle
Most TD Passes 3rd (tie) 2007 4 John Parker Wilson
Highest Compl % (min 20)
4th (tie) 2006 80% (16 of 20) John Parker Wilson
Most TD Passes 4th (tie) 1993 3 Jay Barker
Most TD Passes 4th (tie) 2003 3 Brodie Croyle
Most TD Passes 4th (tie) 2006 3 John Parker Wilson
Most TD Passes
4th (tie) 2009
3
Greg McElroy
Total Touchdowns 4th (tie) 2007 4 John Parker Wilson
Longest TD Rush 4th (tie) 2008 87 yds Glen Coffee
Yards per Catch 5th 2007 28.7 (6 for 172 yd) DJ Hall
Most Pass Attempts 6th (tie) 2007 45 (24 cpl, 327 yd) John Parker Wilson
Most Points in a Loss 9th 2003 31 team
Longest Punts 10th 2005 72 yds Jeremy Schatz
Yards per Catch 10th 2006 24 (6 for 144 yd) DJ Hall
Longest Scoring Pass Play 10th 2006 78 yards John Parker Wilson to DJ Hall
Most Yards Passing 10th 2007 327 (24 of 45) John Parker Wilson
Yards per Rush (min 10 att) 12th 2002 10.8 (11 att, 119 yd, 1 td) Shaud Williams
Most Receptions 12th (tie) 2007 9 (91 yds) Matt Caddell
Longest TD Rush 16th (tie) 2003 80 Shaud Williams
Longest TD Rush 16th (tie) 2002 80 Shaud Williams

Source: The University of Alabama Football Record Book

 

Arkansas & The Alabama Bowl Record Book

Record Place Year/Bowl Statistic Holder
Fewest Rush 1st Downs 1st (tie) 1962 Sugar Bowl 0 team
Fewest Pass Attempts 1st (tie) 1980 Sugar Bowl 7 Steadman Shealy
Worst Punt Average 2nd 1962 Sugar Bowl 23.0
Most QB Sacks 2nd 1980 Sugar Bowl 5 (30 yards) team
Most Rushing TDs 2nd (tie) 1980 Sugar Bowl 3 Major Ogilvie
Fewest Pass Yards 3rd 1962 Sugar Bowl 20 yards Pat Trammell
Most Yards Rushing 3rd 1980 Sugar Bowl 284 yards team
Most Fumbles Lost 3rd (tie) 1962 Sugar Bowl 3 team
Most Interceptions 4th (tie) 1962 Sugar Bowl 3 (20 yards) team
Most Rush 1st Downs 4th (tie) 1980 Sugar Bowl 14 team
Fewest Pass Attempts 5th 1962 Sugar Bowl 10 Pat Trammell
Most Int Return Yards 5th 1980 Sugar Bowl 52 yards team
Fewest Pass Completions 5th (tie) 1962 Sugar Bowl 4 Pat Trammell
Fewest Pass Completions 5th (tie) 1980 Sugar Bowl 4 Steadman Shealy
Fewest Pass 1st Downs 7th 1980 Sugar Bowl 3 team
Fewest First Downs 9th 1962 Sugar Bowl 12 team

Source: The University of Alabama Football Record Book

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