After a week full of turmoil following the heartbreaking loss to LSU, Auburn traveled to Fayetteville, Arkansas looking to bounce back and keep Arkansas winless in the SEC.
Kamryn Pettway took over the game in the third quarter with three rushing touchdowns as the Tigers rode a 28-point third quarter to a 52-20 win over the Razorbacks. No. 21 Auburn posted a season-high 629 total yards in the victory.
Jarrett Stidham was 19-for-28 for 218 yards as the Tigers picked up the pace on offense and offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey mixed in a trick play as Ryan Davis threw a perfect strike to Darius Slayton for a 62-yard touchdown.
The Tigers (6-2, 4-1 SEC) got off to another fast start against the Razorbacks, as wide receiver Darius Slayton took a screen pass 50 yards on Auburn’s opening drive and Stidham followed by walking into the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown.
"I'm real pleased with out team," Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said. "We bounced back from a tough loss last week. I'm proud of our players, I'm proud of our coaches."
Looking to take control of the game early in the second quarter, Gus Malzahn elected to go for it on 4th and 1 at the Arkansas 2-yard line, but Kerryon Johnson was stuffed trying to go over the top.
Arkansas’ defense kept them in the game in the first half, stopping Auburn’s inside run game and holding Kerryon Johnson to just 3.2 yards per carry.
"We had a little adversity early," Malzahn said. "Our guys hung in there. Our third quarter I think we had one of our best quarters of the year."
The Razorbacks (2-5, 0-4 SEC) looked to be gaining momentum after Stidham stared down Will Hastings and threw an interception. But a muffed punt gave Auburn a short field, and a two-yard touchdown run by Johnson gave Auburn a 17-3 lead.
Arkansas moved the ball on offense, but were 0-for-7 on third down in the first half as the Tigers took a 17-6 lead into halftime.
The Tiger defense stuck it to Arkansas redshirt freshman QB Cole Kelley, recording three takeaways on the night. Auburn outside linebacker Jeff Holland terrorized Kelley to the tune of 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
Auburn stuck with the run to open the second half, and it paid off in a big way. Pettway finally looked like himself again as he picked up 67 rushing yards and two touchdowns on two consecutive drives to start the half.
Malik Willis replaced Stidham in the fourth quarter and threw his first career touchdown pass, a four-yarder to Devan Barrett. Willis showed his speed on zone read plays and finished with 62 rushing yards on the night.
Special teams posed a problem again for the Tigers. After giving up a punt return touchdown late last week against LSU, Auburn struggled in kick coverage again, this time giving up a 100-yard kick return in the third quarter.
Auburn now has a bye-week before traveling to College Station, Texas to take on the Texas A&M Aggies. Malzahn recognized the importance of the Tigers' off-week.
"We've played eight straight games," the Arkansas product said. "We were a little beat up coming into this one. It's going to give us some time to heal up.
"We played good football tonight. We can build upon this. I think we're in a good spot to finish this thing strong."