Arkansas extends streak, downs NIU 52-14
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Arkansas is flat out having fun with its sudden turnaround at this point.
Korliss Marshall returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, and Brandon Allen accounted for three touchdowns as Arkansas won its third straight game with a 52-14 victory over Northern Illinois on Saturday night.
The win for the Razorbacks (3-1) snapped a 17-game road winning streak for the Huskies, whose last road loss came at Central Michigan in 2011.
After extending a school-worst losing streak to 10 games to open the season, Arkansas has outscored its last three opponents by a combined 125 points, 174-49.
Allen was 15-of-22 passing for 199 yards and two touchdowns for the Razorbacks; he also ran for a score.
Drew Hare threw for 179 yards and two touchdowns for Northern Illinois (3-1), which lost its first regular season game since 2012.
Arkansas earned its first win over a power five conference team under second-year coach Bret Bielema with a 49-28 win at Texas Tech last week.
Marshall wasted little time in carrying that momentum forward against the two-time defending Mid-American Conference champion on Saturday, following the blocks of Khalia Hackett and Keon Hatcher before sprinting for the opening touchdown.
The kickoff return for a score to open the game was Arkansas' first since Dennis Johnson did the same against Missouri State in 2009.
The outcome was rarely in doubt after that, thanks in large part to the rejuvenated Allen - who played much of last season with a shoulder injury that limited his practice time and effectiveness.
The junior connected for touchdown passes to Jared Cornelius and Hatcher, and his 2-yard touchdown scramble in the third quarter put the Razorbacks up 35-7. Allen now has eight touchdown passes and only one interception this season.
Hatcher capped the Arkansas fun early in the fourth quarter, catching a 44-yard touchdown pass from Allen to put the Razorbacks up 45-14. The junior finished with six catches for 107 yards and the score.
Northern Illinois entered the game no stranger to playing some of the top teams in the country, having defeated three Big Ten Conference teams during its road winning streak and playing in the Orange Bowl following the 2012 season. The Huskies, however, were overmatched by their Southeastern Conference opponent - with their rushing offense, which ranked 7th nationally (325.3 yards per game) entering the week, held to 123 yards by Arkansas.
Defensive end Trey Flowers had nine tackles in the win, including a sack and forced fumble for the Razorbacks.
Hare had touchdown throws to Aregeros Turner and Joel Bouagnon, but Northern Illinois trailed 28-7 at halftime and never threatened in the second half.
The Razorbacks, meanwhile, had no problems extending the dominance of their SEC-leading rushing attack. Alex Collins, Jonathan Williams and Marshall combined to rush for 188 yards on 36 carries, and Arkansas finished with 212 yards rushing to go with 215 yards through the air.