By JOHN ZENOR, AP Sports Writer
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Damien Harris opened with a 75-yard touchdown run and No. 1 Alabama rode a fast start to a 41-9 victory over Arkansas on Saturday night.
The Crimson Tide (7-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) had raced to a 17-0 start by midway through the first quarter before the Razorbacks (2-4, 0-3) managed to slow down the onslaught for a while.
Harris ran for 125 yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries. His run on the game’s first offensive play matched his career long set last week at Texas A&M, giving the Tide a lead just 15 seconds into the game.
That game with the Aggies was Alabama’s closest of the season, prompting coach Nick Saban to challenge his team to listen to him instead of the “rat poison” of media hype.
The result was a second straight lopsided SEC loss for Arkansas and embattled coach Bret Bielema.
Playing without quarterback Austin Allen because of a right shoulder injury, Arkansas couldn’t muster much sustained offense.
Redshirt freshman Cole Kelley made his first start and spent much of the night under heavy pressure. He completed 23 of 42 passes 200 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the fourth quarter.
The 6-foot-7, 268-pounder led the Razorbacks down the field at the end of the first half, but it ended with an incompletion from the 3.
Alabama’s Jalen Hurts was 12-of-19 passing for 155 yards with a touchdown and his first interception of the season.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks have allowed 139 points in their first three SEC games. They did put up a fight for a while after the poor start, holding Alabama without a point for stretches of 21 and 15 minutes.
Alabama: The offense sputtered at times after the fast start but produced points in bursts. The Tide committed two turnovers after losing just one in the first six games and muffed three punt returns. Hurts’ third-quarter interception ended a streak of 206 consecutive passes without one, Alabama’s second-longest.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney was on hand with other members of Alabama’s 1992 national championship team, which was honored before the game. His coach, Gene Stallings, was also there. Alabama and Clemson have split the past two national title games. The second-ranked Tigers lost to Syracuse Friday night.
Arkansas hosts No. 10 Auburn, which was upset by LSU.
Alabama hosts Tennessee, another slumping SEC team the Tide has beaten 10 straight times.
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