Bob Holt is a sports reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he sits on the board of directors for the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year four times and has been inducted to the Arkansas Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame.
Auburn doesn't feel on the road in Fayetteville
Auburn coach Hugh Freeze is shown during a game against Arkansas on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — If only the University of Arkansas could play as well at Reynolds Razorback Stadium as Auburn.
The Tigers made themselves at home again at Razorback Stadium with a 48-10 victory on Saturday.
It was Auburn’s fourth consecutive victory at Arkansas, improving its record in Fayetteville to 10-5.
The Razorbacks (3-7, 1-6 SEC) lost their third consecutive game in Fayetteville after raising hope for the struggling program by winning 39-36 at Florida in overtime the previous week.
“Obviously Auburn played exceptional,” Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman said. “We did not.
“I want to give them credit for playing very well. They were ready to play. I felt like we were through the week.
“I thought we were coming off a good week, had a really good week of practice. But we got dominated, and we have to go back to work and figure out why.”
The Tigers (6-4, 3-4) have been dominating in their four-game winning streak at Razorback Stadium, outscoring the Razorbacks by a combined score of 189-63 — an average winning margin of 31.5 points.
Bryan Harsin, who was fired as Auburn’s coach last season after Arkansas won 41-27 at Jordan-Hare Stadium, won his last road game with the Tigers when they beat the Razorbacks 38-23 in Fayetteville in 2021.
The Tigers then lost their final five road games under Harsin.
Gus Malzahn, the former Razorbacks offensive coordinator and Auburn coach who is now at Central Florida, had a 7-1 record against Arkansas, including 52-10 and 51-10 road victories in 2017 and 2019.
Hugh Freeze became the third Auburn coach to be part of the current four-game winning streak along with Malzahn and Harsin.
Three Arkansas coaches have been part of the losing streak — Bret Bielema in 2017, Chad Morris in 2019 and Pittman in 2021 and 2023.
Arkansas last beat Auburn at home in 2015 when Bielema’s Razorbacks won 54-46 in four overtimes.
The Razorbacks’ only victory in Fayetteville this season was 28-6 over Kent State on Sept. 9, and the Golden Flashes were within 14-6 in the third quarter.
Kent State is 1-9 with its only victory over Central Connecticut State 38-10 on Sept. 16. The Golden Flashes’ eight losses other than at Arkansas are by an average of 26.8 points, including 49-19 to Bowling Green on Saturday at home.
In Arkansas’ games in Fayetteville since beating Kent State, it’s lost to BYU 38-31, Mississippi State 7-3 and Auburn.
BYU (5-5) is playing its first season in the Big 12 and lost at home to Iowa State 45-10 on Saturday.
Mississippi State (4-6, 1-6) lost at Texas A&M 51-10 on Saturday in Jimbo Fisher’s last game as the Aggies’ coach before he was fired on Sunday.
Arkansas is 2-6 in its last eight games in Fayetteville, including losses last season to Alabama, Liberty and LSU and a victory over Ole Miss.
Freeze has as many victories at Razorback Stadium in that span. He was Liberty’s coach when it won 21-19 at Arkansas last season.
“We just owe it to the city, owe it to the state to play better, especially at home,” Arkansas senior receiver Issac TeSlaa said. “Just got to go out and do that.”
Among the announced crowd of 72,033 were several members of TeSlaa’s family from Michigan.
TeSlaa transferred to Arkansas from Hillsdale (Mich.) College, an NCAA Division II school. Some family members didn’t wear shirts and had their upper bodies painted with white letters spelling out T-E-S-L-A-A.
“I’ve had family come to every game, so I’m just extremely appreciative for the amount of support I get,” TeSlaa said. “Obviously they’re a little crazy being shirtless out there, but I’m just glad they were able to make it.
“I wish we could have given them a better game, but I’m glad they came.”
Arkansas will try to finish strong with its last two games at home against Florida International (4-6) and No. 14 Missouri (8-2, 4-2).
“We’re just going to keep playing for each other,” Razorbacks senior defensive end Trajan Jeffcoat said. “We ain’t going to lose hope.
“We love our teammates. Everybody loves each other. We’re just going to keep pushing.”
Arkansas no longer can get bowl eligible, but Pittman said winning remains the goal.
“We’ve got to win,” he said. “We’re going to play to win. We’ve got to beat Florida International next week, so we’re going to continue to do what we feel is the best to get us a win.
“I just don’t think there’s any way that we won’t be ready for them. I don’t think we have a locker room problem. We got our butt kicked.”
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