Defense leads No. 1 Alabama to 52-0 over Arkansas

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron passes during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. AP Photo/Danny Johnston

(AP) FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Eddie Lacy helped Alabama open Southeastern Conference play in style.

Lacy ran for three touchdowns and the No. 1 Crimson Tide forced five turnovers in a 52-0 win over Arkansas. The win is Alabama's 21st straight to open conference play.

Vinnie Sunseri and Haha Clinton-Dix had interceptions against the Razorbacks, who played without quarterback Tyler Wilson because he had a head injury in last week's loss to Louisiana-Monroe.

The shutout was the second straight for the Crimson Tide (3-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference). The last time Alabama, which has now forced 12 turnovers this season, had back-to-back shutouts was against Vanderbilt and Kentucky in 1980.

AJ McCarron was 11 of 16 passing for 189 yards and a touchdown.

Arkansas (1-2, 0-1) had just 44 yards of total offense at halftime and 137 for the game. The Razorbacks were held scoreless in Razorback Stadium for the first time since a 7-0 loss to Baylor in 1966.

Alabama, which struggled at times offensively in last week's 35-0 win over Western Kentucky, had no such problems against a reeling Arkansas team. The Crimson Tide allowed six sacks of McCarron last week, but none against the Razorbacks — gaining 438 yards off total offense.

Lacy had two touchdowns in the first half, helping Alabama to a 24-0 halftime lead. His 10-yard touchdown run in the third quarter put the Crimson Tide up 31-0, and he finished with 55 yards rushing on 12 carries.

Kenyan Drake, TJ Yeldon and Blake Sims also added touchdown runs in the blowout, which was Arkansas' worst loss since a 70-17 defeat at Southern California in 2005.

Wilson's availability for the game was the subject of much speculation throughout the week. He missed the second half of Arkansas' shocking overtime loss to the Warhawks last week, and Razorbacks coach John L. Smith was noticeably vague about the first-team All-SEC quarterback's status leading up to the game.

The mystery continued prior to the game. Wilson went through warmups in full uniform with his teammates, and he took part in the pregame coin toss as one of Arkansas' captains.

Moments later, Wilson's role as a decoy became clear when he put on a baseball cap and headset.

The Razorbacks, who led the SEC in scoring and total offense last season, tried a little bit of everything to hold their own against the Alabama defense. They used both redshirt freshman Brandon Allen and junior Brandon Mitchell at quarterback, mixed in some option and attempted an early lateral and throwback pass.

Nothing worked against a Crimson Tide, which extended its shutout streak to nine quarters in the win.

The loss was Arkansas' first in Razorback Stadium since a fourth-quarter lead slipped away against Alabama two years ago, and it was the first time the school had been shut out since a 28-0 loss to LSU in 1995. The 137 yards of total offense was its worst since a 139-yard effort in a 31-3 loss to Georgia in the 2002 SEC championship game.

Arkansas, which has led the SEC in passing offense the last three seasons, was held to just 79 yards through the air by Alabama. Allen was 10 of 18 passing for 60 yards, while Mitchell was 1 of 7 passing for 19 yards.

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