No. 21 Auburn trounces No. 17 Arkansas on the plains
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) —
From the first snap, Auburn's running game couldn't be stopped.
The result was an unexpected rout that made the Tigers look like SEC contenders and left Arkansas coach Bret Bielema searching for answers.
Eli Stove broke free for a 78-yard touchdown run on Auburn's first play, giving the No. 21 Tigers momentum they never lost in a dominant 56-3 victory over No. 17 Arkansas on Saturday night.
Even with starting running back Kerryon Johnson held out with an ankle injury, Auburn ran for 543 yards, a school record for a Southeastern Conference regular-season game. With former Auburn star Bo Jackson watching, Kamryn Pettway had 192 yards rushing with two touchdowns.
"We played a complete game," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said.
The Arkansas defense was overmatched, even against Auburn's backups. Freshman Kam Martin had a 51-yard scoring run late in the fourth quarter.
Auburn (5-2, 3-1) has won four straight.
"It seemed like every play we were calling was just working," said Auburn quarterback Sean White, who ran for 61 yards, including a 41-yarder. "... Everybody was contributing. It was just a fun day."
Auburn's fun produced shock and embarrassment for Arkansas.
"I am just at a loss for words at what happened," said Razorbacks receiver Keon Hatcher. "I don't know what to tell you. We had a great week of practice. Everyone seemed prepared."
The Tigers held Arkansas (5-3, 1-3) to 215 total yards, including 25 yards rushing. Rawleigh Williams ran for only 22 yards one week after he set a career high with 180 yards in a 34-30 win over No. 23 Mississippi.
(AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Bielema said he and his staff "have got to take a really serious look at some of the things we're doing, how we are making guys play and what we are asking them to do. ... Tomorrow's gonna be a long day, and it won't be one that will be a lot of fun but it's got to happen."
Auburn provided strong evidence it can avoid a repeat of last season's disappointing finish that included a four-overtime loss to Arkansas.
Stanton Truitt had scoring runs of 20 and 31 yards and added a 45-yard touchdown catch.
Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen was helped off the field with an apparent right knee injury in the second quarter. He returned with a black sleeve on his knee on the next possession.
Bielema said Allen was pulled late in the game after "it started swelling up on him and getting a little tight."
Adam McFain kicked a 54-yard field goal for Arkansas, the longest of his career, to close the first half.
Johnson joined pregame warmups but "wasn't 100 percent," according to Malzahn, after hurting his right ankle against Mississippi State on Oct. 8.
The impressive win could send the Tigers close to the top 15. The Razorbacks could take a sharp fall in the next Top 25 poll.
There was confusion on the field before the game when it appeared Arkansas players didn't want to move away from the midfield AU logo so Auburn players could make a circle for their prayer.
"We've never had that happen before in our prayer circle," Malzahn said, adding he didn't think it gave his players added incentive. "We were already plenty motivated."
Arkansas: The Razorbacks showed the effects of their eighth straight game, including third in a row against a ranked opponent, without an off week. It was added embarrassment for Bielema that the Razorbacks were even overwhelmed by Auburn's backups.
Auburn: The Tigers made a case to be Alabama's top competition in the SEC West. The strong defensive performance is especially encouraging to Auburn's hopes of recovering from early season losses to Clemson and Texas A&M.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks finally have a week off before their fourth straight game against a Top 25 team when they play No. 15 Florida on Nov. 5.
Auburn: The Tigers will visit No. 23 Mississippi on Saturday in another important SEC West game.