Nov 25, 2022; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Missouri Tigers quarterback Brady Cook (12) drops to throw against the Arkansas Razorbacks during the first half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri beats rival Arkansas to gain bowl eligibility

Brady Cook passed for 242 yards and a touchdown and ran for 138 yards and a score as Missouri defeated Arkansas 29-27 Friday in Columbia, Mo.

Dominic Lovett caught six passes for 130 yards for the Tigers (6-6, 3-5 Southeastern Conference), who won the Battle Line Rivalry trophy and gained bowl eligibility.

KJ Jefferson completed 20 of 27 passes for 205 yards two touchdowns and ran for another for the Razorbacks (6-6, 3-5).

Missouri outgained Arkansas 468 to 318, earned seven sacks and forced two turnovers.

The Tigers struck first with a 40-yard field goal by Harrison Mevis 5:26 into the game. Cook’s 27-yard run sparked the 46-yard scoring drive.

The Razorbacks responded with a 75-yard touchdown drive to move ahead 7-3. Jefferson completed a 37-yard pass to Matt Landers to get Arkansas rolling and he capped the series with 3-yard TD run.

The Tigers countered with their own 75-yard march to take a 10-7 lead. The key play was Cook’s 27-yard pass to Lovett and the finish came on Cody Schrader’s 3-yard touchdown run.

Cook’s 55-yard pass to Lovett set up the quarterback’s 9-yard touchdown run as Missouri expanded its lead to 17-7 to open the second quarter.

Arkansas cut its deficit to 17-14 with Jefferson’s 27-yard TD pass to Landers.

Mevis hit a 27-yard field goal to push the Missouri lead to 20-14 with 5:26 left in the first half.

But the Razorbacks countered with another 75-yard touchdown drive to take a 21-10 lead. This time, Jefferson hit Raheim Sanders with an 8-yard touchdown pass.

Missouri scored on its first second-half possession on Cook’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Luther Burden III. The Tigers settled for a 26-21 lead when their 2-point conversion attempt failed.

Mevis made it 29-21 with a 29-yard field goal. Cam Little’s 46-yard field goal for Arkansas cut the lead to 29-24, then his 20-yard field goal cut it to 29-27 with 12:40 left to play.

The Tigers’ defense held firm from there, forcing two three-and-outs and a fumble on the Razorbacks’ last-ditch final play.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Missouri Tigers quarterback Brady Cook (12) celebrates with fans after a score against the New Mexico State Aggies during the second half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri, Arkansas swing into Battle Line Rivalry

Missouri can secure bowl eligibility while Arkansas will try to raise its bowl profile when these Southeastern Conference rivals meet Friday in Columbia, Mo.

The Tigers (5-6, 2-5 SEC) and Razorbacks (6-5, 3-4) have dubbed this annual game the Battle Line Rivalry. A trophy will be at stake on Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium.

Missouri won five straight games in the series before Arkansas prevailed 34-17 last season.

“The only thing we’re focused on is it’s a rivalry game and it’s trophy week,” Missouri coach Eliah Drinkwitz said. “That’s it. None of the other stuff matters. The most important thing to us is that they have a trophy and we want it and the only way to get it is to play our best game and to prepare the way that we know how to prepare and to play with unbelievable effort.

“That’s the focus and that’s why we did Senior Week last week. This week is all about rivalry week, Arkansas and the Battle Line trophy.”

Missouri rolled to a 45-14 victory over New Mexico State in their previous game after suffering a 66-24 beating at Tennessee. Brady Cook continued his improved play by completing 19 of 27 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 71 yards on seven carries.

“I felt like with the way things ended against Tennessee, I thought it was really important for us to bounce back,” Drinkwitz said. “Offensively, to score on our first three drives, to score on this opening series of both the first half and second half which was the first time we’ve done that all year ? there was real growth there to convert some big third downs and we converted the fourth down.”

The Razorbacks are coming off a 42-27 upset of then-No. 14 Ole Miss. They got quarterback KJ Jefferson back from his clavicle injury and their offensive clicked back into high gear.

“Man, it’s nice to have KJ back,” Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said. “We weren’t too clean on the first two drives, first two scoring drives, but he made us clean because of his athleticism.”

Jefferson completed 17 of 22 passes for 168 yards and three touchdowns against the Rebels. He also rushed for 47 yards on eight carries.

“When you have a guy behind you like that, it builds confidence in you when you have a big runner that can physically run over people,” Pittman said. “I mean, on the draw play, they all came inside, and he cut outside for 20, 30 yards. When you have a guy back there that can break tackles and make things happen, you play a little bit better, to be honest with you.”

The Arkansas offense has averaged 34.9 points per game with Jefferson and just 13.5 in two games in which Jefferson has been sidelined.

On defense, the Razorbacks may be missing cornerstone linebacker Bumper Pool, who is battling hip and back injuries. Pool is second on the club with 92 tackles.

“Bumper is still Bumper and trying to hang on,” Pittman said. “I don’t know that he’ll be able to or not. He’s beat up, not healthy. We’re bowl eligible. I don’t know if he’ll be able to play or not.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Mississippi Rebels running back Quinshon Judkins (4) celebrates with quarterback Jaxson Dart (2) after scoring against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the second half at FirstBank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

No. 14 Ole Miss turns attention to struggling Arkansas

No. 14 Ole Miss looks to put a special season back on track Saturday night against a struggling Arkansas squad in Fayetteville, Ark.

The Rebels (8-2, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) stumbled at home against Alabama last Saturday, their second loss in three games, but still have the chance to reach double-digit wins.

The Razorbacks (5-5, 2-4) play their final home game of a roller-coaster campaign. Arkansas has lost two in a row and five of their last seven.

Last Saturday, Ole Miss failed to convert a fourth-down pass which could have kept their SEC West division title hopes alive with a win. Instead, Crimson Tide star safety Brian Branch reached out and knocked down Jaxson Dart’s pass intended for Jonathan Mingo over the middle.

That play — plus Georgia’s 45-19 domination of Mississippi State later that night — locked in the participants for the SEC title game in Atlanta on Dec. 3. It will be the top-ranked Bulldogs and the No. 6 LSU Tigers.

So what does it take to get over the hump and get to Atlanta?

“Make one more play,” Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said. “There’s not some magic formula of we got to go change all those things or do all these things different. Games come down to one possession, one-play games like that, one side makes the plays and finds a way to win. (Alabama has) been in a number of them this year.”

In order to duplicate last season’s 10-win regular season in 2021, the Rebels must win at Arkansas and return home to beat Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl. A third straight victory over its rival in that series would give them 10 and likely an appearance in a major bowl game.

Freshman Quinshon Judkins is ninth in rushing yards (1,171) and fifth in rushing TDs (15) in FBS play. The latter number set a school record for a single season, eclipsing the 14 of Brandon Bolden (2010), Deuce McAllister (2000), Archie Manning (1969) and Kayo Dottley (1949).

The Razorbacks aren’t looking for any magic at his point — one more win over their final two games (Ole Miss, at Missouri) to become bowl eligible would do just fine.

Coach Sam Pittman’s effort to beat the Rebels will likely depend on better quarterback play from regular starter KJ Jefferson or either Malik Hornsby or Cade Fortin.

Jefferson, a dynamic dual-threat signal caller, is a native of Sardis, Miss.

In last year’s game back in his home state in Oxford, he passed for 326 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 85 yards and three scores, but his two-point throw for the win fell incomplete, giving Ole Miss a 52-51 win in the wild affair.

“We anticipate him practicing and anticipate him playing on Saturday,” Pittman said Monday. “Those things certainly change, and they have over the last two weeks, but I know he feels better than he has since the Auburn game. … I know he feels better than he has the last two weeks.”

Hampered by injuries and missing two of the squad’s 10 games, Jefferson has thrown for 1,981 yards and 17 TDs with just three interceptions. He’s added 425 rushing yards and six scores.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; LSU Tigers running back Noah Cain (21) is tackled by Arkansas Razorbacks defensive back Hudson Clark (17) and linebacker Bumper Poole (10) during the second quarter at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Williams, strong defense lift No. 7 LSU past Arkansas

Josh Williams rushed for 122 yards and a touchdown to help No. 7 LSU record a 13-10 win over Arkansas 13-10 on Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark.

The Tigers (8-2, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) won their fourth consecutive game to move to the brink of the SEC West title. They can clinch by winning at Texas A&M in two weeks.

Arkansas (5-5, 2-4) played without starting quarterback KJ Jefferson, who has been hampered by a shoulder injury. Malik passed for 24 yards and ran for 37 before being replaced by Cade Fortin, who completed 8 of 13 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown.

Hornsby slipped and fell for a 12-yard loss while trying to avoid three LSU defenders on a 4th-and-2 play, giving the Tigers a first down at the Razorbacks’ 40.

Jayden Daniels’ 26-yard completion to Kayshon Boutte set up Williams’ 1-yard touchdown run that gave LSU a 13-3 lead with 5:25 left in the quarter.

Fortin drove the Razorbacks 94 yards, the last 40 of which came on a touchdown pass to Matt Landers that cut the lead to 13-10 with 13:17 left in the game.

Freshman linebacker Harold Perkins Jr. ended Arkansas’ final chance when he recorded his fourth sack of the game, forcing Fortin to fumble the ball that the Tigers recovered at the Arkansas 44.

The Razorbacks took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter when they drove 46 yards to set up Cam Little’s 28-yard field goal.

On the second play of the ensuing possession, Latavious Brini recovered Daniels’ fumble, setting up Arkansas at the Tigers’ 10.

On a 4th-and-goal from the 3, Hornsby was stopped for no gain, leaving the Razorbacks with a 3-0 lead at the end of the quarter.

Hornsby fumbled and BJ Ojulari recovered for LSU at the Arkansas 37. The Tigers gained one first down before Damian Ramos kicked a 38-yard field goal to tie the score early in the second quarter.

John Emery Jr.’s 32-yard run and Williams’ 9-yard run on 4th-and-1 led to Ramos’ 29-yard field goal that gave LSU a 6-3 halftime lead.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA;  Liberty Flames head coach Hugh Freeze looks on against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons before the game at Truist Field. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas eyes bowl eligibility with Liberty coming to town

Liberty coach Hugh Freeze will be guarding against complacency while Arkansas coach Sam Pittman expects the “best game” all season from Freeze’s Flames when the two clash Saturday afternoon in Fayetteville, Ark.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll have them ready,” Pittman said of Freeze. “They’ve had a bye week after their best game all year. I expect a really close, tight game and, hopefully, we can make enough plays to win.”

Pittman’s Razorbacks (5-3) are coming off a 41-27 victory at Auburn that was the Hogs’ first win in Jordan-Hare Stadium since 2012 and first win against the Tigers since 2015.

A win for Arkansas this weekend would make them bowl-eligible for just the second time in the last six seasons.

The Flames (7-1) had an open date after posting an impressive 41-14 victory over BYU on Oct. 22. Freeze welcomed the extra time to celebrate the win, which vaulted his team into the No. 23 spot in the AP Top 25 Poll but left it short of a spot in the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season, which were released Tuesday.

Freese called the AP ranking “pretty special,” and something worth celebrating, but also noted just how fickle the polls can be during the season.

“Arkansas is going to be favored this week and they should be,” Freeze said. “They’ve got better players and probably better coaches. So you can easily get knocked out of the Top 25.”

The Flames have won their last five games since an early 37-36 loss at Wake Forest despite playing an injury-induced game of “musical chairs” at quarterback. Utah transfer Charlie Brewer broke his hand after starting the opener, and Kaidon Salter got the next two starts before sidelined by a groin injury.

Johnathan Bennett has started four of the last five games, including last week when he enjoyed by far the best performance of his career. The junior threw for a career-high 247 yards and a pair of touchdowns in completing 24 of 29 passes.

Freeze said Salter remains doubtful. Brewer returned to practice this week, though Freeze said Bennett likely will start.

“I think they’re both really fine players,” Pittman said. “Both can throw the football. Both can command the offense.”

Pittman had both bad news and good news on the injury front for the unranked Razorbacks. He confirmed that Dominique Johnson, a six-game starter at running back in 2021 who has made only four appearances this year while going through rehab, tore the ACL of his previously injured knee during practice last week and will miss the rest of the season. He rushed for 575 yards last year.

But starting corner Malik Chavis returned to practice after not making last week’s trip to Auburn while recovering from a head injury. Pittman said Chavis will compete for playing time with converted wide receiver Quincey McAdoo at corner.

“The Hogs are going to be a handful for us,” Freeze said. “When you’re playing an SEC roster with a Group of 5 school, it’s tough. It’s hard. You can’t hardly make any mistakes if you want to have any chance to be in it.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 1, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Sam Pittman prior to the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas aims to build momentum in matchup with Auburn

If Arkansas is going to salvage a once-promising season, the Razorbacks need to win against host Auburn in a pivotal Southeastern Conference game on Saturday in Alabama.

Both Arkansas (4-3, 1-3 SEC) and Auburn (3-4, 1-3) are coming off bye weeks. Each team last played on Oct. 15, with the Razorbacks getting a 52-35 road win over BYU — which snapped a three-game slide — and Auburn losing 48-34 at then-ranked No. 9 Ole Miss.

The Razorbacks have made strides under third-year coach Sam Pittman, who guided Arkansas to a 9-4 mark last year. The Razorbacks won 11 games the previous four seasons combined.

Arkansas, however, has dropped six straight meetings against the Tigers. If Arkansas is going to make a move in the SEC West, it starts with winning at Auburn for the first time since 2012.

“I think we are ready to try and make a run and we talk about it a lot,” Pittman said. “Of course, you have to win the next one to get on a run. I like where our team is and I think this is a big test for us.”

Arkansas will rely heavily on dual-threat quarterback KJ Jefferson, just as it has all season.

He’s completed 67.7 percent of his passes for 1,463 yards with 14 touchdowns and just one interception. He’s also rushed for 344 yards and four scores on 91 carries, which are all second on the Razorbacks behind Raheim Sanders (140 carries, 870 yards, seven TDs).

“KJ, now he’s different,” Auburn coach Bryan Harsin said. “He’s really big, really physical. I think he plays with a lot of poise.”

Auburn has dropped four of its past five games and was outscored by then-No. 2 Georgia and Ole Miss by a combined 90-44 its past two games.

The Tigers yield an average of 204.4 rushing yards per game, which ranks 119th nationally. Arkansas is ninth in rushing, averaging 240 yards per game.

Auburn quarterback Robby Ashford has completed just 47.9 percent of his passes for 1,014 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions. But he’s second on the team with 310 rushing yards, trailing only Tank Bigsby’s 524 yards and six scores.

Bigsby rushed for 179 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries against Ole Miss.

“Robby has a strong arm but he’s most dangerous when you have the receivers covered downfield,” Pittman said. “Bigsby, probably last week, he showed who he really is. They opened up a lot of holes for him and he made a lot of good runs.”

Auburn has won six straight against Arkansas.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Brigham Young Cougars running back Christopher Brooks (2) runs with the ball against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the second half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

BYU, Arkansas look to rediscover winning ways

BYU and Arkansas, two teams that were among the Top 25 through the first quarter of the season, will look to get back on track when they square off on Saturday in Provo, Utah.

It’s the first-ever meeting for the two programs.

The Cougars (4-2) return home after a 28-20 loss to Notre Dame last Saturday in Las Vegas in which they managed just 280 yards of offense. The setback snapped BYU’s two-game winning streak and dropped them out of the Top 25.

BYU trailed by 19 points early in the second half and worked its way back into contention. The game was still in reach for the Cougars late, but they failed to convert a fourth down with 3:37 to play and Notre Dame was able to run out the clock, exploiting a weary BYU defense that was on the field for nearly 41 minutes and surrendered 496 yards.

“How many plays did we have total? 46?” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “That’s not going to do it. Part of that is defense, get off the field. And offense, get first downs and keep drives going. Just getting more efficient football from our team. … Be balanced. run the ball, throw the ball. That’s what we should be doing.”

The Cougars are facing a team from the Southeastern Conference for just the 11th time. BYU is 4-6 versus the SEC in program history.

Arkansas (3-3, 1-3 SEC) will look to regain some of its early-season swagger after a 40-17 loss at Mississippi State last week. The Razorbacks have dropped three straight games and fallen out of the AP poll after cresting at 10th in the rankings following their third game.

The Razorbacks are beat up and trying to play through a rough stretch. Quarterback KJ Jefferson, who had started 18 consecutive games, was held out against Mississippi State after taking a hit to the head in the loss to Alabama on Oct. 1.

Nickel back Myles Slusher also missed last week’s game, further depleting a secondary that has lost Jalen Catalon and LaDarrius Bishop for the season.

“We need a bye week,” Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said. “We need to get healthy. But we don’t have that. We have BYU Saturday. We’ll go up there and when we get off the plane and get off the bus, we’ll believe we’re going to win.

“That’s just how it is. I’m not worried about the team.”

Pittman’s teams have never lost a nonconference game in his three seasons at Arkansas. They’ve gone 7-0 over that stretch; there were no nonconference games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

–Field Level Media

Oct 1, 2022; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers (2) makes a pass against the Texas A&M Aggies during the fourth quarter at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

QB-driven coach Mike Leach, No. 23 Mississippi State face Arkansas

Coach Mike Leach has Mississippi State back in the national spotlight.

For the first time since 2020, the Bulldogs are in The Associated Press’ Top 25, slotting at 23rd as they prepare to face Southeastern Conference foe Arkansas on Saturday in Starkville, Miss.

It marks the first time the Bulldogs (4-1, 1-1) have been in the Top 25 since Sept. 27, 2020.

In Leach’s first game the day before that ranking, his team steamrolled defending national champion LSU 44-34 behind an SEC-record 623 passing yards from transfer quarterback K.J. Costello.

Leach’s history of achievement usually involves the passing game, and the Bulldogs’ Will Rogers falls into the category of Leach passers who have had success in college or beyond.

Leach guided NFL No. 1 overall pick Tim Couch and Josh Heupel when he was an assistant at Kentucky and Oklahoma, respectively. As a head coach, he turned out Kliff Kingsbury and Graham Harrell at Texas Tech and Gardner Minshew at Washington State.

Rogers appears destined to join the list.

With his team scoring at least 39 points in four of its five games, the junior has completed 171 of 234 passes for 1,715 yards (third nationally). His 19 TD passes tie him for the top spot with North Carolina’s Drake Maye.

“He’s gotten better at utilizing the weapons around him more quickly, more decisively,” Leach said of Rogers.

Arkansas (3-2, 1-2) has dropped consecutive games to Texas A&M, 23-21, and Alabama, 49-26, and has no margin for error while occupying the SEC’s West Division basement.

Down 28-0 to Alabama on its home turf in Fayetteville, the Razorbacks battled to 28-23 on Raheim Sanders’ 3-yard TD run late in the third quarter. But the home side couldn’t keep up with Jahmyr Gibbs, who ripped off 72- and 76-yard scores in the fourth quarter to help the Crimson Tide vault past Georgia and into the No. 1 poll spot.

While Sanders is having an outstanding season with 609 rushing yards on 105 carries (5.8-yard average), coach Sam Pittman said his team needs to produce more through the air, especially against SEC talent.

“On offense we’ve got to throw the ball better. Right now, we’re one-dimensional,” the third-year coach said. “We can’t just turn around and hand the ball off and beat good teams.”

Saturday’s biggest concern for Arkansas is the health status of quarterback KJ Jefferson, who was hit in the head last week during the loss to Alabama and was replaced by Cade Fortin.

Pittman did not mention a concussion but said the passer suffered a head injury. Pittman added this week that the team is in “wait-and-see” mode with Jefferson’s progress.

Fortin, a redshirt senior, was 4 of 10 for 35 yards in relief. He is backed up by redshirt freshman Malik Hornsby.

“We’re very confident with (Fortin) in practice,” Pittman said. “He’s done really well in the two-minute situations. He’s a good quarterback and he has experience. We also believe in Malik.”

Arkansas holds an 18-13-1 all-time edge in the series and has won two straight.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Texas A&M Aggies running back Devon Achane (6) rushes the ball against the Arkansas Razorbacks during the first quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive TD marks No. 23 Texas A&M’s defeat of No. 10 Arkansas

Devon Achane rushed for a career-best 159 yards and a touchdown and Demani Richardson notched a momentum-changing defensive score as No. 23 Texas A&M recorded a 23-21 victory over No. 10 Arkansas on Saturday night in Southeastern Conference play at Arlington, Texas.

Max Johnson passed for 151 yards and one touchdown for the Aggies (3-1, 1-0 SEC), who beat the Razorbacks for the 10th time in the past 11 meetings. Evan Stewart caught a touchdown pass and Antonio Johnson made 13 tackles.

Arkansas had a chance to take the lead with but Cam Little’s 42-yard field-goal attempt hit the top of the right upright and floated down unsuccessfully into the end zone with 1:30 left to play.

Texas A&M ran out the clock to finish off the win.

K.J. Jefferson passed for 171 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 105 yards and one score for the Razorbacks (3-1, 1-1). Ketron Jackson Jr. and Warren Thompson caught scoring passes.

Arkansas started fast with two touchdowns in less than 10 minutes.

Jefferson threw a 32-yard scoring pass to Jackson with 9:44 left in the opening quarter and connected on a 56-yard touchdown with Thompson four-plus minutes later.

The Razorbacks recorded the first 10 first downs in the game before Texas A&M got its first 18 minutes into the game on Achane’s 63-yard run. The dash set up Johnson’s 10-yard scoring pass to Stewart to pull the Aggies within 14-7 with 8:45 remaining in the half.

Momentum changed five-plus minutes later when Arkansas was at the Aggies’ 3-yard line and threatening to score another touchdown.

Jefferson kept the ball and leaped into the pack and Texas A&M’s Chris Russell Jr. forced him to fumble. Tyreek Chappell caught the ball in the air at the 3 and ran to his left and Jefferson caught up to him but struggled to make the tackle.

Chappell then handed the ball off to Richardson at the 18, and he raced 82 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown to bring the Aggies within 14-13. The extra-point snap was dropped by the holder.

Texas A&M started the second half with the ball and took the lead on Achane’s 9-yard run. Randy Bond added a 31-yard field goal to give the Aggies a 23-14 advantage with 3:48 left in the third quarter.

Jefferson scored on a 6-yard keeper to bring Arkansas within two with 10:05 left.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks wide receiver Jadon Haselwood (9) pushes off of a Missouri State Bears defender in the second quarter as he runs after a catch for a touchdown at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

No. 10 Arkansas overcomes 17-point hole to defeat Missouri St.

KJ Jefferson threw for 385 yards and two touchdowns to help No. 10 Arkansas avoid a major upset and rally to beat Missouri State 38-27 on Saturday night in Fayetteville, Ark.

The Razorbacks (3-0) erased a 17-point first-half deficit in order to avoid becoming the first top-10 team to lose to a Football Championship Subdivision team since Appalachian State beat Michigan in September 2007.

The game marked the return of former Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino, who coached a game in Fayetteville for the first time since 2011 when his four-year stint as the Razorbacks coach ended.

Petrino’s Bears (2-1), who entered the game ranked fifth in the latest FCS poll, jumped out to a 17-0 lead with 10:36 left in the second quarter after quarterback Jason Shelley’s 24-yard touchdown run.

Shelley led Missouri State by completing 24 of 43 passes for 357 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.

But the Bears’ offensive line had a hard time keeping Shelley upright as Arkansas finished with eight sacks, 2.5 of which were by Drew Sanders. Jordan Domineck and Zach Williams each had two sacks as well.

After Arkansas tied the game at 17, the Bears gambled on fourth-and-1 from the Arkansas 47-yard line and converted when Shelley executed a perfect play action fake and found a wide open Ty Scott downfield to retake the lead at 24-17.

Raheim Sanders took a shovel pass from Jefferson and broke loose for a 73-yard touchdown to cut Missouri State’s lead to 27-24 with 11:38 left in the fourth. Sanders ran for 167 yards on 22 carries while Jefferson completed 19 of 31 passes.

Landon Jackson and Drew Sanders recorded back-to-back sacks for Arkansas on the ensuing Missouri State possession to force a punt.

Bryce Stephens returned that punt 82 yards for a touchdown to give the Razorbacks their first lead of the game with 9:16 remaining. The Razorbacks forced another punt on Missouri State’s next possession and then completed a nine-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Jefferson to put the game out of reach.

Matt Landers led all Arkansas receivers with seven catches for 123 yards as the Razorbacks amassed 597 total yards of offense.

–Field Level Media