It was real simple for Auburn … hand the ball to Tre Mason and take advantage of Arkansas’ mistakes.
At halftime alone, Mason had 93 of Auburn’s 124 total yards, and his running helped Auburn take advantage of a bad center-quarterback exchange and questionable onsides kick by Arkansas. The Tigers led 14-3 at halftime on scoring drives of 29 and 38 yards.
Mason waltzed up the middle and into the end zone untouched to put Auburn up 21-3 in the third quarter, and his 12-yard misdirection run put the Tigers up 35-17 in the fourth.
Arkansas did what it does, run between the tackles. The Razorbacks did it to the tune of 21:43 possession time in the first half.
Problem was, Auburn’s defense didn’t allow the Razorbacks much to show for it. Casanova McKinzy’s interception on a pass that Dee Ford tipped killed one Arkansas scoring threat, and the Tigers mounted a goal-line stand in the second quarter.
Arkansas’ two touchdown drives came with help … Korliss Marshall’s 87-yard kickoff return on one, two 15-yard Auburn penalties on the other.
Auburn gave up Marshall’s kickoff return in the third quarter, but Arkansas mistakes in this area were bigger to the outcome.
JaViere Mitchell recovered a poorly executed, ill-timed onsides kick after the Razorbacks came within 7-3 on Zach Hocker’s 35-yard field goal in the second quarter. It was a heads-up play by Mitchell.
When Arkansas had a chance for a last-gasp possession late in the second quarter, the Razorbacks drew a personal foul for leaping over the up men on Auburn’s punt team. Auburn was able to kneel and kill the clock with a 14-3 lead.
After so much attention was paid this past week to Bielema’s jabs at Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, Bielema made arguably the biggest coaching mistake with the onsides kick.
It wasn’t desperation time for Arkansas. It was a 7-3 game, and Arkansas’ offense was able to run on Auburn’s defense. Still, the attempt and Auburn’s recovery gave the Tigers a short field to set up a two-score lead.
This was a hold-serve game for eighth-ranked Auburn, which improves to 8-1 overall and assures itself at least a .500 finish in the SEC a year after going 0-8 in league play. So ends the easy-out portion of Auburn’s schedule. Next, the Tigers are off to Tennessee, then home to play Georgia and Alabama.