Arkansas report card: High marks for thrilling overtime victory
Arkansas knocked off Auburn, 56-48, Saturday in a four-overtime thriller that had social media rocking like Razorback Stadium. The ebbs and flows of this game at times had fans wondering what the team was thinking, and other times wondering where has this been all year. Here are the grades from Saturday.
The Razorbacks piled up 457 yards, including 213 on the ground, against a good Will Muschamp-coached Auburn defense. Then again, teams pile up lots of yards when they go four overtimes. It’s not the yards, though. Quarterback Brandon Allen threw for 233 yards and three touchdowns, but it was his poise and leadership late in the fourth quarter and overtime that won this game. Arkansas lost one running back (Rawleigh Williams) to injury and used Kody Walker in his first game back after Alex Collins was sidelined as well. Also, the Razorbacks opened up the passing game early to help open things for the running game. Then there was some brilliant play-calling in overtime with misdirection plays.
The secondary won this game in the fourth overtime, and the line won more battles than it lost during regulation. However, after the Hogs took a 24-21 lead with 1:04 left in regulation, Auburn sliced through the Arkansas defense to set up a game-tying field goal. The Razorback defense offered little resistence in the first three overtimes. They also gave up back-to-back touchdown drives in the first half that totaled more than 11 minutes of clock.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A
Punter Toby Baker averaged 42.5 yards and kept the ball away from the dangerous Auburn returners. Freshman Cole Hedlund nailed a 25-yard field goal with 1:04 remaining in regulation. Hedlund was also perfect on all five extra points, including the first two overtimes.
Bret Bielema had his team ready for the 11 a.m. kickoff — their first morning game of the season. The Hogs looked crisp early with their 14-0 lead. The team lost players to injuries and the next man up was always ready. The team looked focus, and that began with preaching one game at a time during the bye week prior to this game. As Bielema said on the field after the game, he was glad his team had conditioned well enough to sustain four overtimes. Play calling in crucial moments of overtime in the game wasn’t bad, either.
This would have easily been a C had the Hogs lost, but this win warrants a B just because of the magnitude of the contest for momentum, confidence and jockeying for bowl eligibility. Arkansas has a two-game win streak (Tennessee and Auburn) going into a non-conference game against UT-Martin this week. Arkansas found out a lot about its moxie and character this week.