Alabama vs. Arkansas score, takeaways: Bryce Young sets passing record as Tide beat Hogs, clinch SEC West
Alabama was tested but came out of a tough Arkansas game with its eyes on the SEC title
Bryce Young set the Alabama single-game passing record with 561 yards, running back Brian Robinson Jr. rushed for for 122 yards, and the No. 2 Crimson Tide survived a scare from No. 21 Arkansas in a 42-35 win at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. In doing so, Bama clinched the SEC West division title and is now set to face No. 1 Georgia in the 2021 SEC Championship Game in two weeks.
Young, who completed 31-of-40 passes and tossed 5 touchdowns, surpassed the previous Tide record held by Scott Hunter, who threw for 484 yards in the 1969 Iron Bowl against Auburn. Young hit Jameson Williams on a 40-yard touchdown with 5:39 to play to make it 42-28 in what appeared to be a game-icing score. However, Arkansas drove right down the field with quarterback KJ Jefferson, who hit Raheim Sanders for a 17-yard touchdown with 1:02 to play to get the Hogs back within seven points. Cam Little's onside kick attempt bounced out of bounds, and Young took two knees for the win.
Williams finished the afternoon with 8 catches for 190 yards and 3 TDs. He wasn't the only elite playmaker outside for the Crimson Tide, though, as John Metchie III caught 10 balls for 173 yards and a 20-yard touchdown catch early in the second quarter.
It was the latest chapter in the storybook season for Young and the Tide offense. That unit finished Saturday with a 9.2 yards per play average and racked up 707 total yards against a Razorbacks defense the kept the Alabama offensive line guessing all afternoon. Arkansas' offense moved up and down the field on Bama, though. Jefferson found star wide receiver Treylon Burks eight times for 179 yards and 2 TDs.
1. Young's stellar season
Young is going to receive a ton of praise after this one, but it still won't be enough. Simply put, this is the most impressive season from an Alabama quarterback of all time. Yes, Mac Jones was awesome last year, Tua Tagovailoa was a star before that and even Joe Namath had his moments in T-Town. Young is doing is just different.
Jones, Tagovailoa and the rest of the legendary quarterbacks in Alabama history had plenty of help on the ground. Young got some today -- Bryan Robinson Jr. had 122 yards -- but that hasn't been the norm. The Crimson Tide were averaging just 3.76 yards per carry in conference games going into Saturday, which has forced Young to be "the man" from the start.
He has two more chances to prove just how good he is. You throw the records out the window in the Iron Bowl against Auburn in Jordan-Hare Stadium, a place Alabama hasn't left with a win since 2015. Then, Georgia's defense will try to solve the Young riddle in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta on Dec. 4.
Young is clearly up for the challenge.
2. It's a two-man race for the Heisman
Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud became the talk of college football on Saturday afternoon when he lit up Michigan State with 432 yards and 6 touchdown passes in a 56-7 win for the fourth-ranked Buckeyes over No. 7 Michigan State. Young's performance against the Razorbacks was the equivalent of a heavyweight fighter throwing a haymaker right after getting stung on the chin.
Apologies to Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis or anybody else that might have a chance at the Heisman Trophy, because the definition of "most outstanding player in college football" is open to interpretation. But let's be honest, it has evolved into an award for the best skill player on a playoff-caliber team. Stroud and Young are the only two players in the country that check those boxes.
The two will still have big stages to play on. Stroud gets the rivalry with No. 6 Michigan next week, followed by what could be an appearance in the Big Ten Championship Game. Young has the Iron Bowl and a showdown with top-ranked Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.
The Heisman Trophy race has been a little murky throughout the season. Stroud and Young cleared it up on Saturday afternoon.
3. It wasn't just the aerial attack
Young will get all of the accolades after this one, and rightfully so. But the passing game had already been established in Tuscaloosa. The running game, on the other hand, has had plenty of struggles. The last time Alabama played an SEC opponent, it managed just six yards on the ground against LSU two weeks ago.
Robinson shined with his 122 yards on Saturday. He was the only Crimson Tide player to gain more than three yards on the ground on Saturday. That might not seem like much, but it was just enough for Young to settle into a groove over the final three quarters. Robinson forced the Arkansas safeties to pay just enough attention to him, which allowed Young to find Williams deep, Metchie over the middle and keep the chains moving.
4. Treylon Burks is a monster
The star wide receiver for the Razorbacks not only was the difference-maker for the offense, but he did it despite a left arm injury that forced him into the locker room late in the first quarter. He emerged just as the second quarter started and went off.
Six of his eight catches came over the final three quarters, including both of his touchdowns. If you hadn't paid close attention to Burks before, get ready. Not only is he one of the best receivers in the country, but he is going to fly up draft boards over the next few months.
What a turn of events!
Alabama appeared to be on its way to going up two scores, but tight end Cameron Latu was stripped inside the five yard after catching a pass from Bryce Young. Montaric Brown fell on it on the 1-yard line. The Razorbacks have the ball, down six, in the fourth quarter in Tuscaloosa. Unreal.
Young sets a record
Bryce Young has 488 passing yards through three-plus quarters, which sets an Alabama single-game passing record. The previous record was held by Scott Hunter, who threw for 484 yards in the 1969 Iron Bowl against Auburn
Arkansas won't go away quietly
Fourth-and-9 on the Alabama 32-yard line? No worries at all for the Hogs. Place kick older Reid Bauer pulled up after the snap, took off toward the line of scrimmage and executed a jump pass to tight end Blake Kern, who hauled it in one-handed. Kern took off for 32 yards into the end zone, despite Alabama being in "field goal safe" defense on the play. It's 34-28, and we still have almost a full quarter left. Get your popcorn ready.