Ben Tate rushed for a career-high 184 yards and two touchdowns for No. 17 Auburn, but Arkansas defeated the Tigers 44-23 to hand Auburn its first loss of the season before 72,599 in Reynolds Razorback Stadium Saturday.
Arkansas' Ryan Mallett threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another while Michael Smith rushed for 145 yards and a touchdown. It was the second consecutive game Tate rushed for over 100 yards, and marked Auburn's first loss in Fayetteville since 2001.
Trailing 34-3 with 7:56 to go in the third quarter, Auburn (5-1, 2-1) scored 20 straight points on three touchdowns in 5:05 to make it a game at 34-23 with nine seconds to go in the third quarter, a quarter in which the Tigers gained 248 yards total offense.
Tate scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 34-10 with 5:14 to go in the third quarter after Auburn drove 67 yards in eight plays in 2:42. The Tigers then made Arkansas (3-2, 1-2) go three and out to set up a career-long 60-yard Tate touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage to draw Auburn to within 34-16 with 3:52 left in the third. It was Auburn's second touchdown in only 1:22. The Tigers' pass failed for the two point conversion.
Auburn's Mike Blanc made a huge tackle for loss on fourth and five from the Auburn 35 to end another Razorback drive. On Auburn's first play, Kodi Burns handed the ball to Terrell Zachery on a reverse that gained 60 yards to the Arkansas six yard line. It was Auburn's second straight 60 yard rush. That setup McCalebb's 3-yard touchdown run.
"They are a very good football team and you can't play like we did today," said Auburn head coach Gene Chizik. "We weren't consistent anywhere in any areas of our game. We started out slow against a good football team, got their crowd into it, and we could never recover.
"In the third quarter, we started to play like Auburn football is supposed to work. Again, we didn't convert on fourth and inches. We didn't take the ball in on a score when he had a chance to score on second and one or third and one. We have to score. We have to make those things, and we have to convert. It was a great turnaround. That was a 14 point swing because they took it down and scored. As a football team, it was a total team loss today."
Arkansas' Dennis Johnson then returned the kickoff 70 yards to the Auburn 30 to end the third quarter. The Razorbacks took seven plays to make it 41-23 on Green's second touchdown run of the day, this one from three yards out 3:38 into the fourth. The Hogs tacked on a 23-yard Alex Tejada field goal to make it 44-23 with 4:20 left remaining.
After holding Auburn to a three and out to start the game, Arkansas took a 6-0 lead on a Broderick Green 2-yard touchdown run. The Razorbacks drove 12 plays and 73 yards in 5:41, but were unsuccessful on the PAT after a bad snap. Arkansas made it 13-0 as Michael Smith darted through Auburn's defense for a 25-yard touchdown run 3:11 into the second quarter. The Razorbacks only needed five plays to drive 70 yards in 1:43 for the score.
Auburn's Mario Fannin fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and it was recovered by Arkansas' Jerrell Norton at the Tigers' 34-yard line. It only took the Hogs two plays and 39 seconds to go up 20-0 on a Ryan Mallett 16-yard touchdown pass to Greg Childs. Auburn answered the deficit quickly as Wes Byrum's 37-yard field goal made it 20-3 with 8:54 left in the first half. The Tigers, who had 28 yards total offense prior to the drive, drove 44 yards in eight plays in 2:08. The Tigers' field goal gave Auburn 210 total points this season, surpassing the 208 total points scored all of last season.
Dennis Johnson then returned Auburn's kickoff 50 yards to the Tiger 47. Arkansas drove to the Auburn 37 before the Tigers' Walt McFadden made a huge interception as he picked off Mallett's pass at the Auburn 2-yard line.
The Tigers were able to drive to the Auburn 34 but punted it back to the Hogs. Arkansas took over at its own 31 and drove down the field before Mallet threw a 5-yard pass to tight end D.J. Williams for his second touchdown pass of the half with 1:08 to go, giving Arkansas a commanding 27-3 lead that it would take into halftime. Arkansas had 19 first downs to three for Auburn in the first half and outgained the Tigers 274-108 while having the ball 18:39 to 11:21 for Auburn. Michael Smith gained 101 first half yards rushing for the Razorbacks.
Auburn stopped Arkansas three and out on its first drive of the second half and used only four plays to drive from its own 30 all the way down to the 3 yard line. Back-to-back plays on a 32 yard Quindarius Carr reception and a 21-yard run by Tate accounted for the bulk of the drive. However, Tate fumbled the quarterback exchange with Chris Todd, and the Razorbacks recovered at their own five yard line.
The Razorbacks then drove 95 yards in 10 plays in 4:06 to make it 34-3 on a Mallett 5-yard touchdown run with 7:56 to go in the third quarter.
"They are an extremely good football team today and did a lot of good things," said Chris Todd. "They executed. On our side, we had too many mistakes and came out flat. They played a lot better than we did today.
"Across the board, myself included, there were times we needed to execute and we didn't do it. We will go back and watch the film and learn from that. We just need to get things rolling and we didn't do that. We had a little spurt there in the second half where we did some things. We just came up a little short."
For the game, Arkansas outgained Auburn 495-375 in front of a crowd of 72,599 while the Tigers had had three fumbles and the Razorbacks one interception. Arkansas had 28 first downs to Auburn's 15. Chris Todd completed 15 of 28 passes for 133 yards for the Tigers.