Postgame Thoughts: Auburn 52, Arkansas 20

By: Matt Jones
Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017
Auburn running back Kamryn Pettway scores a touchdown during a game against Arkansas on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Fayetteville.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Auburn running back Kamryn Pettway scores a touchdown during a game against Arkansas on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Fayetteville.

— Week by week, things are getting worse for the Arkansas football team.

The Razorbacks have been blown out three consecutive times, have lost seven straight games against Power 5 teams and must finish with four wins in their final five games to make the postseason with a .500 record. And if a mostly-empty stadium the final 20 minutes or so was any indication, apathy has set in just more than halfway through the year.

Arkansas is the only SEC West team without a conference win midway through league play. The Razorbacks have been outscored by a combined 191-94 in four conference games, including by 26, 32 and 32 during a forgettable month of October.

Last place in the SEC West will be on the line when Arkansas visits Ole Miss next Saturday.

The Razorbacks' problems along both lines of scrimmage were evident against Auburn, which out-gained Arkansas 629-334 in total yards. The fast-paced Tigers even won time of possession.

Auburn averaged 8.2 yards per snap against Arkansas, mostly by virtue of its physical run game that totaled 345 yards on 47 attempts. By comparison, the Razorbacks averaged 4.9 yards per snap and was held to 171 rushing yards on 42 attempts.

Arkansas quarterback Cole Kelley struggled against the blitzing Tigers. He completed 15 of 26 passes for 163 yards, but was sacked six times. Half of those sacks caused him to fumble and Auburn recovered twice.

The Razorbacks also lost a fumble on a muffed punt to set-up a second-quarter score. The Tigers scored touchdowns off all three turnovers.

Auburn had five quick-strike touchdown drives in the second half to break open a game it led 17-6 at halftime. The stands had largely emptied by the end of the third quarter when the Tigers staked a 45-13 lead.

It was a game somewhat reminiscent of last season when Auburn beat Arkansas 56-3 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Razorbacks' only offensive touchdown came with 3:07 remaining in the fourth quarter on a 2-yard run by Devwah Whlaey.

The Razorbacks' other touchdown was a 100-yard kick return by DeVion Warren late in the third quarter. Arkansas settled for two field goals in the first half.

As bad as the final score was, it could have been worse. The Tigers had consecutive turnovers inside Arkansas territory in the first half, including on downs when Auburn failed on a fourth-and-1 at the 2-yard line early in the second quarter.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn will quiet his critics for a week with his fourth lopsided win over Arkansas, where he once was a receiver and the offensive coordinator on the Razorbacks' SEC West championship team 11 years ago. Malzahn's teams are 4-1 against Arkansas, with wins by 18, 24, 53 and 32.

On the flip side, another blowout loss is sure to ratchet up the heat on Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, who fell to 10-26 in SEC games and 27-31 overall in his fifth season with the Razorbacks. Four of Arkansas' five losses this season have been by three or more scores.

The Razorbacks have been outscored after halftime every game during its seven-game Power 5 losing streak, including by 73 points after halftime in its five losses this year.

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