It was competitive early, not so much late.
Unable to contain Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson or answer offensively themselves, the Auburn Tigers were held scoreless outside the first quarter en route to a 38-14 flaying in Fayetteville.
In falling to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in SEC play, the defending champion Tigers could not capitalize on opportunities their defense afforded them late, throwing three picks to seal their fate. They could not build on a strong start offensively, watching the Razorbacks put up 31 unanswered after Auburn had briefly led 14-7.
Billed as a battle of Top 25 teams, Auburn soon looked like it didn't belong and found out firsthand how good Arkansas really is.The Razorbacks started slow, but tightened up defensively to give Wilson a chance to win.
Speaking of winners and losers, here are six from the Tigers' most recent loss.
Despite the loss, Michael Dyer had a decent game on the ground, running for 112 yards and touchdown on 12 carries. His 55 yard TD scamper to open the game seemed to be a good omen for Auburn, but it was not to be their night.
With most of Auburn's offensive struggles coming in the passing game, Dyer should be exempted from most of the criticism. His 5.3 average for the game is exactly what you want at tailback, and Gene Chizik would take those numbers any day.
While Dyer got most of the carries, Onterio McCalebb did not disappoint during his limited touches. The junior gained 91 yards in 13 carries, indicating a valuable 1-2 punch with Dyer going forward.
Even the freshman got involved. Tre Mason only had three carries but made them count, going 10 yards each time.
In all Auburn finished with 291 yards on the ground, 233 of those gained by their backs. If they can shore up the passing game, Auburn could challenge some good SEC teams. Until then they remain one-dimensional on offense and easy to scheme against.
While we can chalk up some of Auburn's passing difficulties to inexperience and injuries, those excuses can't hide the fact that the Tigers cannot consistently throw the football.
Neither junior Barrett Trotter nor freshman Kiehl Frazier managed much of anything through the air. Auburn finished with a meager 104 passing yards and three interceptions in the second half.
Going without both Trovon Reed and Emory Blake a WR was sure to hamper their aerial attack, but even if both men played they would have likely seen little of the ball. Both QBs were under duress all night, and while the offensive line gave up only one sack, the pressure was always there.
The numbers speak for themselves. Trotter finished 6-of-19 for 81 yards and a pick while Frazier went 2-of-4 for 18 yards and two picks. Neither man threw a touchdown.
Going forward, Auburn would be wise to give Trotter more of the snaps. While Frazier does give them that explosive option look, constantly switching him in deprives Trotter of getting into a rhythm, hurting the passing game overall.
As a whole, the front seven for Auburn did themselves justice against a team not known for their running ability.
Yes, there was that 92 yard touchdown run by Joe Adams, but if you look outside that run the defense only gave up 84 yards on he ground.
Limiting the Razorback's running game allowed Auburn to focus on Tyler Wilson and the passing attack. By stopping the run late, the defense continued to provide the offense with chances to get back into the game by stretching it. Unfortunately Arkansas forced turnovers to make the point moot.
Neither running back for Arkansas broke 50 yards rushing, and only one of the three rushing touchdowns scored against Auburn were by a running back. On a down-by-down basis the run defense excelled, but were burned by a big play and thus largely overlooked.
Stopping a player who threw for over 500 yards a week ago was always going to be a tough task for Auburn, but allowing 19 consecutive completions borders on nightmarish.
Tyler Wilson got whatever he wanted when the game was still anyones, completing 24-of-36 for 262 yards and 2 touchdowns. Auburn simply could not defend against the pass, allowing four different receivers to cross the 40 yard threshold.
Among them was Jarius Wright, who victimized that Tigers with 5 catches for 76 yards and a touchdown.
This game was always going to be decided by Auburn's ability to stop the prolific Wilson, and the result speaks for itself. Corners were beaten, routes were misread and there were broken coverages at critical times. Auburn's secondary did not step up when it needed to and Wilson made them pay.
When your punter is one the game's biggest winners, something's wrong. Yet Steven Clark deserves all the accolades he gets after placing Arkansas six times inside their own 20. Despite valiantly trying to switch field potion on the Razorbacks, the defense rarely held them to a three and out.
With so much of football's strategy revolving around good field position, Clark's ability to pin opposing offenses deep in their own territory is a legitimate weapon. In future games this will allow Auburn to play more conservatively when stuck in a fourth and short near midfield. Instead of going for it, they will have Clark aim for the one and punt.
Of all the Auburn units, Special Teams really shined Saturday to help keep the Razorbacks away from good field position. While the defense couldn't hold up their end, special teams did theirs and should be commended for it.
Some of the difficulties Auburn faced passing the ball against Arkansas need to be laid at the feet of the head coach.
I understand why Gene Chizik wants to go with Kiehl Frazier at times, but he overused him last night. Frazier has yet to grasp the offense and made freshman mistakes when the Tigers were trying to come back, and that's less his fault than it is the coach for playing him.
Putting Fraizer in as he is right now is tantamount to telegraphing some sort of run, and the last thing you need to do, especially in the SEC, is give your opponent another advantage. Let the young man develop in a more supporting role and let Barrett Trotter get comfortable in the game without constantly taking him out.
The better team won at Donald W. Reynolds Stadium, but the fact that it wasn't as close as the rankings indicated is partly the fault of Chizik. The team did underperform, but the game could have been managed better.