When you’re looking for a recipe for an upset, some of the most important things include minimizing mistakes, and taking advantage of when your opponent makes some. Arkansas didn’t do that, and some sloppy play on both offense and special teams led to an ugly 52-20 loss.
In the first half, Arkansas had six penalties (five were by the offensive line), went 0-7 on third downs, and muffed a punt after forcing a three and out. Do all of those things and you can kiss any chance of winning goodbye.
Auburn started with a touchdown on their opening drive, which culminated in a 15 yard run by Jarrett Stidham where Arkansas had just nine on the field. The two traded field goals in the first quarter and Arkansas tried to hang in with the game still at 10-3. The defense did all they could to hang in, but those previously mentioned mistakes killed any chance of staying in the game. Arkansas got a stuff on 4th and 1, but the offense immediately went three and out. Kevin Richardson make a great read and got an interception, again three in out. Throw in a Henre’ Toliver muffed punt and several drive killing holding calls and you’re at a 17-6 halftime defecit.
Auburn then just wore down an Arkansas team who just didn’t seem interested in going out for the second half. The only big play of the second half was a DeVion Warren 100 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. By that time Auburn had already ran up 38-6 lead and most of the fans had already left by the time it happened.
Cole Kelley got the call again at quarterback and made some good throws but the offense never looked really threatening. Much like was the case with Austin Allen in, he just doesn’t have the time to make reads or even finish his drop back at times. We’ve known for over a year now that the offensive line is awful, but it’s now at a point that it’s so bad the offense can’t even do basic things. How do you make any play call when you don’t trust you line to block anyone?
All of the mistakes being made, they’re things that you would a coaching staff to be able to correct, especially in game seven. But they aren’t being fixed, and if anything they’re getting worse. There is nowhere to point at and say progress. There is no reason to tune in anymore because there is no reason to think this team will be better next weekend.
Next week Arkansas plays a wounded Ole Miss team in Oxford. It’s a game that Arkansas’ quickly dying bowl hopes need. And at the rate Arkansas is getting blown out of games, Bret Bielema might need that win as well. If recent history means anything, they probably won’t get that win.