FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Bo Nix threw for 292 yards and accounted for three touchdowns, Auburn’s defense contributed a score and a key fourth-down stop in the third quarter and the Tigers upset No. 17 Arkansas 38-23 Saturday.
Auburn (5-2, 2-1 SEC) won its sixth straight in the series and handed Arkansas (4-3, 1-3) its third straight loss.
The Tigers took a third-quarter lead when Derick Hall sacked and stripped Arkansas’ KJ Jefferson in the end zone and Marcus Harris pounced on it for the touchdown. On the next series, Harris stuffed Jefferson on an attempted fourth-down conversion at the Auburn 29. One play later, Nix found Demetris Robertson for a 71-yard score.
Auburn flipped a three-point deficit into an 11-point lead in just over three minutes.
“It was huge. Obviously the play of the game. Those back-to-back were important,” Nix said. “That just carried us on throughout the game into the fourth quarter when we got a chance to run the ball.”
Jefferson went 21 of 35 for 228 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 66 yards on 18 carries, but was sacked three times. Both scoring passes went to Treylon Burks, who finished with nine catches for 109 yards.
Nix completed passes to 10 different receivers, going 21 for 26 with an interception.
Arkansas (4-3, 1-3) pulled within a score at the end of the third quarter on Dominique Johnson’s 20-yard run, but Auburn answered with Daniel Carlson’s field goal.
After Auburn forced its second three-and-out, Nix capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive with a 23-yard touchdown run with less than three minutes left to seal things.
“It’s definitely the way that we’d like to finish the game,” Auburn coach Bryan Harsin said. “You want to convert, you want to stay on the field, you want to be able to run it at the end of the game. That was a drive I was very proud of.”
Johnson ran six times for 42 yards. Tank Bigsby led Auburn on the ground, rushing 18 times for 68 yards and a touchdown, the game’s second.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks were without three defensive starters and the news got worse after the game. Preseason All-American safety Jalen Catalon will miss the rest of the season because of a shoulder injury, coach Sam Pittman said.
“Mentally, you could see he wasn’t playing his type of ball,” Pittman said. “I think it’s time for him to get that shoulder fixed. I think that’s best for the kid.”
Cornerback LaDarrius Bishop (hamstring) and defensive tackle Markell Utsey (undisclosed injury) also missed the game. Pittman said he anticipates Utsey’s return in two weeks.
Auburn: The Tigers’ winning streak is the longest for either team in the series. The Razorbacks haven’t won since a quadruple-overtime victory in 2015 when Bret Bielema and Gus Malzahn were the teams’ respective coaches.
Auburn: The Tigers entered the week as the leading vote-getter outside the Top 25. After beating Arkansas, they’ll almost certainly find themselves with a number next to their name next week.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks started 4-0 with a blowout of Texas, but could be unranked when the poll is released Sunday.
Auburn: The Tigers have an open date before hosting Ole Miss the day before Halloween.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks travel to their second home in Little Rock to play FCS Arkansas-Pine Bluff next week.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25