Rodgeriqus Smith celebrates after catching a touchdown pass against Arkansas in the first half.
Oct. 7, 2006
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - Arkansas made the first major upset of the college football season look easy.
With a swarming defense and unstoppable tailbacks, the Razorbacks knocked off No. 2 Auburn in a stunningly one-sided 27-10 victory Saturday that will rearrange the top of the rankings.
Arkansas (4-1, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) entered as 15-point underdogs and left with the SEC West lead.
"We want people to respect us," said tailback Darren McFadden, who ran for 145 yards and a 63-yard touchdown against a defense that hadn't allowed a TD on the ground all season.
"We came out here with the mentality that we were going to earn that respect."
Auburn (5-1, 3-1) becomes the first top-10 team to lose to an unranked opponent this season, a huge blow to its national title hopes. The Tigers leave with questions about a defense abused for 279 rushing yards and an offense that totaled 213 yards.
"They beat us to the punch on both sides of the ball," Tigers coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We've got to find ways to get it done, especially at home. We're disappointed but this is not over. This was the first half of the season."
McFadden carried 28 times and Felix Jones gained 104 yards on 13 carries, pounding out yards inside and occasionally busting outside for big gains.
Arkansas hadn't beaten a team ranked so high since a 42-11 in over No. 1 Texas in 1981.
It was ugly enough for Tuberville to offer this assessment: "We're not that bad a football team."
But is Arkansas, a team that lost its opener at home 50-14 to Southern California, that good?
Jones' 1-yard touchdown run gave Arkansas a 24-10 lead late in the third quarter that was too much for a sputtering Auburn offense to overcome.
The Tigers 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.
"I thought we could compete for four quarters," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "To say we were going to be up 10-0, I don't know about that. To say we were going to win by 17 points - no way."
But the Razorbacks 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 - and Nutt climbed into some hedges and directed the band.
"We were just trying to come out and earn some respect and show the world we're not a pushover," said receiver Marcus Monk, who caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from heralded freshman Mitch Mustain.
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 just to earn a spot in the league championship game.
The Razorbacks capitalized on an Auburn mistake to push their 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 Mustain.
Arkansas didn't need much trickery against the nation's No. 3 scoring defense. The Razorbacks ran on 36 of their final 38 plays. Mustain was an efficient 7-of-10 passing for 87 yards and wasn't sacked.
"They came in here and pretty much dominated on the ground," Auburn safety Eric Brock said. "We really have no excuses. I'm pretty much shocked by our performance.
"They pretty much beat us at our own game," he said.
Arkansas held Kenny Irons to 75 yards on 15 carries. Cox was 17-of-29 for 153 yards.
The Razorbacks had used two big plays to take a 17-10 halftime lead. First, Monk reached over a falling Jonathan Wilhite for the ball and ran into the end zone.
After Auburn failed on fourth-and-5, McFadden burst through the middle and outran the defense for a 63-yard TD with five minutes left in the first half.
Nutt stopped short of saying this was his biggest win at Arkansas, but for a coach coming off two straight losing seasons it was very significant.
"I told our guys, 'You won't know how big it is until on down the line,"' he said. "To go on the road and win a game like this against a team the caliber of Auburn, I am really proud of them. We have to build on this and keep going."