Arkansas and Auburn saw this game as one thing: a must win. But thanks to five Tiger turnovers, it was ultimately the Razorbacks who came out on top, handing Auburn its fourth loss of the season in a 24-7 victory.
“The bottom line is that the Auburn fans and the Auburn Family, they did not deserve this today,” said coach Gene Chizik. “And I apologize to anybody who came to the game to watch it. It was a good football team talent-wise, but we certainly have plenty of opportunities to play much better. We just didn’t get it done. So, it is no excuses, and that is about as simple as I can put it.”
Auburn’s struggle spanned both sides of scrimmage, with the focus being the quarterback switch at half time that saw Clint Moseley’s first playing time of the season.
Through the first 30 minutes of play, sophomore quarterback Kiehl Frazier threw for arguably his best game of the year, completing 9-of-14 for 131 yards but four sacks, zero points and an interception forced the coaching staff to reconsider who should be under center.
“We just felt like we needed a spark,” Chizik said. “We needed something a little different, and that doesn’t mean that’s the way it is going to stay. We felt like at that time, again, we needed something different, and we did it, and we will go back and re-evaluate it again this week and see where we are. That doesn’t mean the change is permanent. Kiehl handled it well.”
The Razorbacks got on the board first following a 2-yard rush into the in-zone by running back Dennis Johnson with 1:02 to play in the first. Arkansas added to its lead midway through the second after kicker Zach Hocker sailed a 27-yard field goal through the uprights.
Auburn came into the second half trailing 10-0 hoping a new quarterback would add some much needed offensive inspiration. Arkansas’ defensive had another idea.
Moseley finished the third quarter completing just 4-of-10 passes for 55 yards and three sacks. However, a 21-yard completion to senior receiver Emory Blake gave the Tigers exactly what it needed, a touchdown. With 33 seconds remaining in the third, Auburn cut the Razorback lead to three and rejuvenated the worried Auburn fans, but it was too little too late.
It took quarterback Tyler Wilson and the Arkansas offense just over two minutes to drive 75 yards downfield and extend the lead to 10.
Then, just two and a half minutes later, Auburn running back Mike Blakely fumbled the ball on the Auburn 40-yardline. Defensive end Colton Miles-Nash recovered the ball to give the Razorbacks possession with 11 minutes left in the game.
“You saw the game,” Chizik said. “We had two weeks to prepare, and I really felt like we had two good weeks of practice. I certainly didn’t expect to play like we played today, but the reality of it is, today we did all of the things you can’t do and win, and we know that.”
The turnover proved to be fatal. Arkansas moved the ball effortlessly, needing just seven plays to put the nail in Auburn’s coffin. Johnson’s 2-yard touchdown rush over left guard was a mirror image of the Razorbacks’ first touchdown.
Auburn was never able to recover. In a last-ditch effort to produce points, Moseley threw two interceptions, ending Auburn’s hopes of a comeback and bringing its record to 1-4, 0-3 SEC.
“We understand where we are at,” Chizik said. “We have won one game so there has been a sense of urgency in everything that we do. Again, that is why I felt like we had two weeks of practice, and I felt very good about our practices. What I saw out there today was very disappointing in terms of the quality of our practices versus the results of the game today. It wasn’t exactly what I had expected.”
The Tigers finished the day with 321 total offensive yards. Blake led the team in receiving yards, amassing 118 yards on just 10 catches. Quarterbacks Frazier and Moseley threw for a combined three interceptions and were each dropped for a loss four times.
“Offensively, you can’t turn the ball over five times, and this is the result that you get. We missed big opportunities. Eight sacks. Offensively, one of the most poor performances I have seen in a long time, just point blank. Defensively, we started out slow and for three quarters defended the field pretty well, made some big third down stops. Again, when we needed a stop, when we pulled the game to a 10-7 game, we couldn’t quite come up with a stop there. But again, I thought it was all around a team loss. Again, we are going to go back to work, and we are going to continue to figure out how to fix it.”
Auburn will face another SEC team next Saturday at Ole Miss.