AUBURN, Ala. (AP) –Arkansas relied on a swarming defense and the rushing tandem of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones to beat No. 2 Auburn 27-10 Saturday, severely damaging the Tigers’ national title hopes and keeping the Razorbacks undefeated in the Southeastern Conference.
McFadden rushed for 145 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown run, and Jones ran for 104, leading the Razorbacks to the stunning victory.
Jones’ 1-yard touchdown run gave Arkansas (4-1, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) a 24-10 lead late in the third quarter that was too much for a sputtering Auburn offense to overcome.
The win gives Arkansas consecutive victories over ranked opponents. Two weeks ago, prior to an open date, the Razorbacks topped No. 22 Alabama, 24-23, in double-overtime in Fayetteville. It’s the first time Arkansas has had two wins over ranked teams in the same season since 2002 when UA won at No. 24 Auburn, 38-17, and beat No. 18 LSU, 21-20, in Little Rock to win the SEC’s Western Division and a spot in the league’s championship game.
This is the first time Arkansas has recorded wins over ranked foes in back-to-back games since 2001 when the Hogs beat No. 9 South Carolina in Little Rock, 10-7, and No. 17 Auburn, 42-17, in Fayetteville.
No. 2 Auburn is the highest-ranked opponent Arkansas has beaten since 1981 when Arkansas topped No. 1 Texas, 42-11. Arkansas owns a forfiet victory over No. 2 Alabama in 1993, but the Crimson Tide won the game on the field, 43-3.
The Tigers (5-1, 3-1) had already survived two SEC scares, salvaging wins over South Carolina and No. 9 LSU on late defensive stops. The Razorbacks were the ones making most of the big plays this time.
The 15-point underdogs sacked Brandon Cox five times, including once by Jamaal Anderson and Keith Jackson on fourth-and-9 from the Arkansas 39 on the final play of the third quarter.
On their next possession, the Tigers went three-and-out for the third time in the game. They weren’t able to muster any more threats.
It was a matchup of the only SEC West teams without a league loss, but with much of the conference’s focus being on Auburn and LSU, the Razorbacks had been overlooked. They lingered on the field or a few minutes celebrating with fans.
Arkansas punctuated the big win with a 22-yard field goal by Jeremy Davis with 3:53 left. That sent Auburn fans scurrying for the exits, but the game appeared out of reach well before that.
Auburn had won 20 of its last 21 games against SEC opponents and was chasing its second undefeated season in three years. Now, the Tigers have to win out and hope Arkansas loses another league game to earn a spot in the league championship game.
The Razorbacks capitalized on an Auburn mistake to push its lead to two touchdowns. Jones’ TD capped a drive that began at the Auburn 34 after Kody Bliss’s 19-yard punt.
Flanker Reggie Fish set up the score with a 25-yard run after lining up kneeling near freshman quarterback Mitch Mustain.
Arkansas didn’t need much trickery against the nation’s No. 3 scoring defense, with Jones and McFadden racking up big yards up the middle and by sprinting outside. The Razorbacks made it easy on Mustain by running on 36 of their final 38 plays.
He was an efficient 7-of-10 passing for 87 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown to Marcus Monk, and wasn’t sacked.
Arkansas held tailback Kenny Irons to 75 yards on 15 carries. Cox was 17-of-29 for 153 yards, but seldom had time to look downfield. The Tigers managed just 213 total yards while Arkansas had 366.
The Razorbacks had used two big plays to take a 17-10 halftime lead over the Tigers in the second quarter. First, Monk reached over a falling Jonathan Wilhite for the ball and ran into the end zone.
After Auburn failed on fourth-and-5 from the Arkansas 34, McFadden burst through the middle and outran the defense for a 63-yard TD with 5 minutes left in the first half. It was the first rushing touchdown Auburn has allowed this season.
Brad Lester brought the Tigers immediately downfield with a 68-yard kick return from the end zone. Auburn had to settle for John Vaughn’s 36-yard field goal, making him the school’s top-scoring kicker.
The Tigers wouldn’t score again.
Arkansas plays host to Southeast Missouri State Saturday at 1 p.m. for Homecoming.