Road woes aren’t quite as bad under Bryan Harsin to start, as the Tigers have now gone into Baton Rouge and Fayetteville and taken victories over conference teams. Today, it was a 38-23 win over the 17th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks that ended up being the fifth win of the year for Auburn and a great way to send the Tigers into the bye week.
Bo Nix started and finished the game hot with long touchdown passes and a game-clinching touchdown run, and the defense got better as the game went along, forcing a huge turnover and scoring a touchdown to completely turn the momentum of the game.
Nix went for a 21-26 effort through the air for 292 yards and 2 touchdowns with 1 interception, and added 42 yards and the final score on 5 carries to lead Auburn today. Arkansas ended up running 89 plays to Auburn’s 61 total snaps, but the defense was able to stand up when needed and force the Hogs away in key situations.
Auburn started the game looking like they were on a mission after that loss to Georgia. The Tigers went on an efficient and deadly drive against the Hogs, taking just 6 plays to motor down the field and break open the scoring with a 39-yard touchdown pass from Bo Nix to Ja’Varrius Johnson. On the drive, Nix was 5-5, and the overall possession took just 2:44 to travel 75 yards.
Arkansas would answer, moving deep into Auburn’s end before the Tigers stopped them on a third down, and a 44-yard field goal from Cam Little put the Hogs in the books with a 7-3 deficit. Both defenses would settle in over the next couple of drives, with Auburn getting just one first down on the next two possessions and punting twice. There was one fortunate break for the Tigers when Jarquez Hunter appeared to fumble the football, but the refs were unable to overturn the call on the field. Instead of giving Arkansas the ball near the Tiger 10-yard line, Auburn punted and the defense forced a stop.
The Hogs also couldn’t do much, gaining just 55 total yards on their next two drives, and ending the second with a long missed field goal in the first minute of the second quarter. After the kick sailed wide, Auburn went back on the attack and drove 65 yards mostly on the ground. A 17-yard Tank Bigsby run got the Tigers down the goal line, and Bigsby would punch it in two plays later to put Auburn up 14-3 with 9:59 to go until the half.
Arkansas was teetering, and after driving into Auburn’s end, the Tigers forced a fourth down stop and looked for a potential back-breaker score, but disaster struck. Facing 3rd and 4 just inside Arkansas’s territory, Bo Nix went for broke down the left sideline and threw an interception to a blanketed receiver. Arkansas took possession at their own 16 with 2:53 left and drove all the way in 12 plays. KJ Jefferson finished the drive with a fancy touchdown on a bit of a busted play to Treylon Burks from 11 yards out, and the Tigers’ halftime lead was cut to 14-10.
FIRST HALF STATS
Out of the half, Arkansas continued what it put together at the end of the second quarter, and went right down the field. This drive mirrored Auburn’s opening drive of the game, and the Hogs went 75 yards in 6 plays with a 30-yard touchdown from Jefferson to Burks for their second scoring connection of the day. Auburn doubled down on pressure up front after that drive and disrupted Arkansas’ offense a little more on the ensuing drives, but the offense went three and out twice to start the half.
After a punt stuck the Hogs deep in their own territory for their third drive of the half, Auburn’s line got to work. On third down, Jefferson looked deep, but the Tigers brought pressure and Derick Hall hit Jefferson in the end zone, forcing a fumble. Marcus Harris dove on the ball for a touchdown and the go-ahead score. Auburn led 21-17 near the midway point of the third quarter.
Trailing after allowing Auburn to score on defense, Arkansas went right down the field and entered Auburn’s end. De’Vion Warren dropped a wide open first down pass, and then the Tigers stuffed the Hogs on three straight run plays, including a fourth and 3 attempt by Jefferson as he went up the middle. Auburn took over at their own 29, and went for broke immediately. Bo Nix lofted a beautiful pass downfield to hit Demetris Robertson in stride for the 71-yard touchdown. Auburn took a 28-17 lead with just over four minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Unfortunately, the defense scoring and a one-play touchdown drive doesn’t give the defense a whole lot of time to rest, and the Hogs drove right down the field at the end of the third quarter to score on a 9-yard Dominique Johnson touchdown run. Arkansas went for two to cut the lead down to a field goal, but Roger McCreary broke up the pass intended for Treylon Burks, and the Tigers led 28-23 as we began the fourth quarter.
Auburn needed to run some time off the clock and get points to stay ahead of the Hogs, and they were the beneficiary of a questionable pass interference call to get right down into the red zone. Anders Carlson banged home a 28-yard field goal to reestablish the 8-point advantage at 31-23 with just over 10 minutes remaining to play.
After the field goal, Auburn’s defense stood tall with a little rest and forced a three and out. Arkansas faced a short fourth down, but decided to punt with 8:41 left in the game and their position deep in their own end. Auburn took over at their own 25, and Bo Nix converted a giant third and 10 with a bullet to Tyler Fromm. and then Kobe Hudson took a screen pass for another first down. Nix hit Shedrick Jackson on a free play for a third first down of the drive as the clock ticked under 4 minutes to play.
Nix converted a big third down with his feet, and then on a 2nd and long after that scampered up the middle on a called quarterback draw for a 23-yard touchdown to ice the game. Auburn led 38-23 with 2:30 to play after the score.
Arkansas failed on fourth down on the ensuing drive with Roger McCreary breaking up the pass, and Auburn was able to run out the clock to ensure the win.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Bo Nix - 21-16, 292 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT; 5 carries, 42 yards, 1 TD - Man, this was a fantastic game for Bo, maybe one of his best ever. He’s had two straight unreal performances on the road, leading Auburn to wins over LSU and now a ranked Arkansas team. Today he ended up with two long touchdown passes and the game-sealing run with a couple minutes left in the fourth quarter. Aside from those plays, though, it was the way he threw the ball with authority, set feet, and a willingness to take the hit and let it fly. He didn’t run as much as he did in Baton Rouge, but when he did it was clutch and the final drive was all him.
Auburn gets to take a week off after seven straight games before Ole Miss comes to town for a Halloween weekend showdown!