7:00 PM ET, October 15, 2005
Razorback Stadium, FAYETTEVILLE, AR
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) -- When Brandon Cox threw a pair of first-half interceptions, his Auburn teammates took it in stride.
"We kind of expected some bad things to happen," receiver Devin Aromashodu said. "A young quarterback, his first game on the road. We were ready for it, but he bounced back."
Kenny Irons ran for a career-high 182 yards and Cox threw three second-half touchdown passes to lead No. 21 Auburn over Arkansas 34-17 on Saturday night.
Auburn trailed 10-6 after a mistake-filled first half in its first road game of the year. Cox, a sophomore who played sparingly behind Jason Campbell last season, turned the ball over twice, leading to a touchdown and a field goal.
But the Tigers took control with a dominating third quarter. Cox's 17-yard touchdown pass to Aromashodu put Auburn ahead. After Arkansas punted, the Tigers drove 85 yards in 14 plays, taking a 20-10 lead on a 5-yard pass to Tre Smith.
"The third quarter just got away from us," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "That was a disappointing thing. Their defense kept us off the field and that wore our defense out."
Auburn went ahead 27-10 in the fourth on Cox's 9-yard pass to Cooper Wallace. Vickiel Vaughn appeared ready to intercept the ball in the end zone, but it went through his hands and right to Wallace with 12:08 remaining.
The Tigers (5-1, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) won for the 20th time in 21 games. They have beaten 13 straight SEC opponents.
Irons, a transfer from South Carolina, was replaced by Brad Lester as Auburn's No. 1 tailback earlier in the week. But Lester left in the first half with a strained right groin, and Irons finished with 33 carries.
"I'm usually getting 10 to 12 carries a game but 33, I would never have imagined that," Irons said. "But our offensive line did a great job."
Freshman Darren McFadden ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns for Arkansas, including a 17-yard score with 9:34 remaining. But the Razorbacks (2-4, 0-3) could pull no closer. Auburn drove 82 yards in 11 plays and took a 34-17 lead on Smith's 7-yard run with 3:37 to play.
"They blitzed almost the entire first half and we just decided to run right past them," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. "They had a good game plan, but we just played an almost perfect second half."
Cox's interceptions were his first since Auburn's season-opening loss to Georgia Tech, but the Tigers didn't panic. They kept running the ball effectively and Cox settled down, finishing 17-of-26 for 203 yards.
"When we were able to run the ball the way we did it opens up the play action," Cox said. "All three of our [passing] touchdowns came off of play action."
Arkansas entered ranked third in the nation with 286.4 yards rushing per game, but the Razorbacks were outrushed 233-148. Auburn controlled the ball for 36:50.
Arkansas took a 3-0 lead on Chris Balseiro's 19-yard field goal after Michael Coe's interception in the first quarter. Auburn hadn't allowed any points in the first half since its opener, outscoring its next four opponents 104-0 in the first two quarters.
The Razorbacks went ahead 10-3 in the second after another interception. Cox was hit as he threw from his own goal line, and Vaughn easily picked off the pass at the Auburn 40. Vaughn's return, plus a personal foul on the Tigers' Troy Reddick, gave Arkansas the ball at the 13, and McFadden later scored on a 5-yard run.
"We expected it," Auburn offensive tackle Marcus McNeill said. "We knew they were going to come out playing six feet off the ground. We just focused on a few running plays. We really got used to it and just overpowered them."
Lester had seven carries for 32 yards before his injury.
Auburn was one of the last two teams in Division I-A to play a road game this season. The other, Nebraska, won 23-14 at Baylor on Saturday night.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Auburn scored two touchdowns and shut out Arkansas in the third quarter to take control of the game.
Gameball goes to... Auburn's Kenny Irons, who rushed for a career-high 182 yards on 33 carries.
Stat of the game... 13: The Tigers have won 13 straight SEC games.
The Fan Pick
97.5% of College Pick'em players picked Auburn to win the game.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||8-13||3-11|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||1-2|
|FG||9:26||CHRIS BALSEIRO 19 YD FG|
Drive info: 6 plays, 28 yards.
|FG||11:58||JOHN VAUGHN 22 YD FG|
Drive info: 14 plays, 75 yards.
|TD||2:20||DARREN MCFADDEN 5 YD RUN (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 27 yards.
|FG||0:34||JOHN VAUGHN 38 YD FG|
Drive info: 9 plays, 59 yards.
|TD||12:04||DEVIN AROMASHODU 17 YD PASS FROM BRANDON COX (JOHN VAUGHN KICK)|
Drive info: 14 plays, 85 yards.
|TD||1:24||TRE SMITH 5 YD PASS FROM BRANDON COX (JOHN VAUGHN KICK)|
Drive info: 14 plays, 85 yards.
|TD||12:08||COOPER WALLACE 9 YD PASS FROM BRANDON COX (JOHN VAUGHN KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 24 yards.
|TD||9:34||DARREN MCFADDEN 17 YD RUN (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||3:37||TRE SMITH 7 YD RUN (JOHN VAUGHN KICK)|
Drive info: 11 plays, 82 yards.