Bo Nix led the way with the best road game of his Auburn career, boosting the Tigers to 5-2 on the season and snapping a six-game losing streak against teams ranked in the Top 25.
Auburn opened things up with a bang. Nix completed every pass he attempted, finishing the drive with a 39-yard touchdown strike to Ja'Varrius Johnson, hitting the speedy sophomore perfectly in stride. It was the first time Auburn had scored a touchdown on its opening drive against an SEC opponent since 2019.
The Tigers would hold an advantage over No. 17 Arkansas for most of the first half, but the Razorbacks scored at the end of the second quarter and then on their ensuing drive to open the second half of play to suddenly snatch a 17-14 lead. From there, it was all Auburn as the Tigers outscored Arkansas 24-6.
When it was all said and done, Nix finished with 21 completions on 26 attempts, racking up a season-high 292 yards and tossing two touchdowns, including a 71-yard bomb to Demetris Robertson on the other side of a turnover on downs. He also added a rushing touchdown late in the fourth quarter to put the game on ice.
"We had gotten the look earlier," Nix said of the rushing touchdown. The play came out of a 5-receiver formation, and the coaching staff had noticed gaps in the Razorback scheme earlier in the game that led to the play call. The play leading to a score was an added bonus.
The play of the receivers deserves praise, too. The first six games of the season have been plagued with drops, as new starters and a new staff have worked to implement a new scheme. Leading up to the game this week, senior running back Shaun Shivers said the drops came from a lack of focus. Following the game Saturday, Demetris Robertson said he felt the group got their focus back, and that a combination of repetition and better fundamentals led to consistently catching the ball and then making plays with it.
Defensively, the Tigers made excellent adjustments to keep Arkansas' offense down. A pair of quick scores by the Razorbacks put them in front for the first time. Halfway through the third quarter, Arkansas started a drive with a chance to extend that lead. The Tiger defense got to KJ Jefferson on back-to-back plays, the second time in his own end zone. Derick Hall's hit knocked the football free, and fellow Tigers Marcus Harris and Zakoby McClain fell on it to take back a lead that Auburn would never relinquish.
"If you score on defense, you have a really good shot to win the game," said Coach Harsin. He praised multiple players on the defense, who as a unit locked in for the last quarter and a half, allowing just 35 yards in the fourth frame.
Harsin had a ghost of a smile on his face in his postgame presser. "That was a fun game... That was a good football game that we got a chance to be a part of," he said, adding that the staff's preparation and the team's execution led to Auburn's first win over a ranked team in the last seven tries. The Tigers will have a chance to add two more Top 25 wins to their record in the near future, with battles against ranked Ole Miss and Texas A&M squads on the schedule in back-to-back weeks.
Auburn (5-2, 2-1 SEC) now sits squarely in the race for the SEC West crown. For Arkansas (4-3, 1-3), an inspiring start to the season has come to a screeching halt with three straight losses against SEC competition.