Sunday September 13th, 2015

Arkansas contributed to a rough day for the SEC West as the No. 18 Razorbacks fell to Toledo 16–12 in Little Rock on Saturday for the Rockets' first victory over an SEC opponent in program history.

A usually potent Arkansas rushing game failed to efficiently move the ball, gaining just 104 yards on 31 carries. Quarterback Brandon Allen did his part to drive the offense, throwing for 360 yards, but a costly interception in the end zone kept the Razorbacks from taking the lead early in the third quarter. Arkansas came close to taking the lead again in the game’s final minutes, but Allen’s pass on fourth-and-goal sailed through the back of the end zone. Back in the red zone for one last-second drive, the Hogs came up empty for a final time.

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Despite a completely rebuilt offensive line and the absence of star running back Kareem Hunt—suspended for the first two games of the season for a violation of team rules—Toledo managed to do just enough offensively to pull off the upset. Quarterback Phillip Ely completed 21 of 38 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown. Arkansas never managed to sack Ely, a major departure from the aggressive front seven that helped drive the Razorbacks to wins over LSU and Ole Miss last season.

Arkansas became the second SEC West team to disappoint in a big way on Saturday, a week after the highly regarded division went undefeated in its openers, including high-profile victories for Alabama, Auburn and Texas A&M. The Tigers required overtime to hold off FCS Jacksonville State, the second-straight performance in which the preseason playoff favorites failed to live up to the hype. However, Gus Malzahn’s squad can at least enjoy its still-unblemished record, a comfort Arkansas lacks.

The Hogs began the season with plenty of promise, spurred further by a dominant 48­–13 victory over UTEP last Saturday. With a daunting conference schedule awaiting it, though, Arkansas now has to wonder if it’ll have the offensive firepower to avoid a third consecutive last-place finish in the SEC West.

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