For the first time in a month, the Auburn Tigers got off to a quick start in a game and scored a touchdown on their first possession.
Quarterback Bo Nix capped off a perfect drive with a 39-yard touchdown pass to Ja’Varrius Johnson to take a 7-0 lead.
The Tigers would cool off a little bit after that and only score on one of their next seven offensive drives.
The Auburn offense being unable to put many points on the board combined with the defense struggling to stop Arkansas on third downs led to the Razorbacks actually taking a 17-14 lead just two minutes into the third quarter.
From that point on, Auburn would go on to outscore Arkansas 24-6 and secure a 38-23 victory on the road.
The Auburn offense put together scoring drives on three of its six chances in the second half, and the Tigers defense scored a touchdown to put the game away down the stretch.
It was an uneven game, with momentum seeming to shift several times over the course of the four quarters. However, when the dust settled, the Auburn Tigers earned their second SEC win of the season.
Take a look below at three things that were instrumental in Auburn’s victory over Arkansas in Fayetteville.
Auburn quarterback Bo Nix played his most clean and efficient game against a ranked opponent in his career.
Nix threw the ball on time and with confidence from the very first drive of the game. In fact, he only had one bad throw all day. That pass was intercepted and gave Arkansas life late in the second quarter, but he more than made up for it throughout the game.
Bo Nix finished the game completing 21 of 26 passes for 292 yards and two scores. Additionally, he rushed for 42 yards including a 23-yard touchdown that put the game away for good.
Auburn offensive coordinator Mike Bobo deserves a lot of credit for coaching up Nix and for calling a game that allowed him to be comfortable.
Nix deserves credit for making multiple accurate throws in the face of pressure that changed the game, including a 71-yard throw to receiver Demetris Robertson.
If Nix can play anywhere near the level that he was at today on a consistent basis going forward, then Auburn will be a tough game for everyone left on the schedule.
Auburn’s defensive front
They weren’t dominant every play and did surrender some points and yardage, but the Tigers defensive front swung this game for Auburn.
Colby Wooden, Marcus Harris, Derick Hall and Eku Leota were huge in today’s win. The Tigers had to defend 89 plays today, so the big guys did wear down at a few points.
But, the Tigers defensive front had three sacks, five tackles for loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery for a touchdown, and stopped Arkansas on fourth down on three separate occasions.
The play that changed this game was a sack by Derick Hall in the endzone that caused Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson to fumble. Defender Marcus Harris alertly recovered the ball in the endzone to give the Tigers a 21-17 lead that they would not relinquish.
When that play happened, Arkansas had just taken the lead on the previous drive and Auburn had punted twice and thrown an interception on their three preceding possessions.
The Tigers needed a big play to get them back into the game and the defensive front provided the spark that springboarded Auburn toward a win.
Tigers’ pass catchers
Auburn receivers have dropped passes at an almost unheard of rate over the first half of the season. The deficiency was on full display last week as the Tigers dropped seven passes against Georgia alone.
Well, give credit to those same guys today because that was the difference in the outcome against Arkansas.
The receivers still were not perfect, but the routes were crisper, the blocking was good, and some really important catches were made in traffic.
Ten different Tigers caught passes today, and many of them were for big third down conversions or even touchdowns.
The Auburn rushing attack struggled to get anything going for most of the game, but the Tigers’ ability to throw the ball enabled the offense score enough to win today’s matchup.
Auburn needs to continue to improve in the passing game, but the performance today gives the team confidence that it will need for the gauntlet that awaits after the upcoming bye week.
Zack Shaw is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News and former walk-on for the Auburn Tigers.