Arkansas prevails over Auburn in four-overtime battle of disappointments

After both teams' promising seasons were derailed in September, Arkansas got a much-needed win over Auburn in four overtimes.
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Auburn-Arkansas was a game that most circled during the dog days of August predictions. The Tigers were considered a national title favorite by many, the Razorbacks were a dark horse for an SEC West spoiler. Both teams’ seasons went south by the end of September, and a potential marquee SEC matchup was a mere blip on the radar of an otherwise forgettable noon slate in late October.

What emerged was one of the nuttiest games of the season.

Arkansas survived 54–46 in a four-overtime thriller in Fayeteville, echoing Ole Miss and the Razorbacks’ legendary seven-overtime battle in 2001 (a game Arkansas won 58–56). Twice faced with fourth-and-game situations in overtime, the Razorbacks logged two touchdowns to force more extra periods. Quarterback Brandon Allen shook off his early inconsistent play to finish 19 of 31 for 233 yards with three touchdowns and an interception and earned praise from coach Bret Bielema after the game.

“Today we got some conditioning in,” Bielema said in his trademark maroon sweatsuit. “I’m proud of how resilient we were.

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Arkansas didn’t trail until overtime and probably should have never been in the position after taking a 24–21 lead with 1:07 remaining in the fourth quarter. Fortunately for Auburn, wide receiver Ricardo Louis nabbed two outstanding full-extension catches with under 30 seconds remaining—21- and 28-yard grabs, respectively—to allow kicker Daniel Carlson to tie the game with a 41-yard field goal and send it to overtime.

And then, they traded touchdowns.

After combining for 48 points over four quarters, the Tigers and Razorbacks scored an astonishing 52 points on 62 plays from scrimmage over the course of the four overtimes. Auburn running back Peyton Barber scored one touchdown in regulation before getting three in overtime. Arkansas’s Drew Morgan had two catches before overtime started but finished the game with six receptions and two touchdown catches (the first on a fourth down with the game on the line).

Bielema’s squad finally appears to be coalescing after a disastrous start to the season, which saw it finish September 1–3 and lose star running back Jonathan Williams in the preseason to a foot injury. With Ole Miss and LSU lingering on the schedule, the Razorbacks may finally be the spoiler that most pundits expected they’d be at the start of the season.

For Auburn, the incredible disappointment only builds. The offense isn’t operating with its trademark efficiency under the command of quarterback Sean White, a promising but inexperienced young quarterback, and is subsisting on the bruising running of Barber, who finished the game with 37 carries for 122 yards and four touchdowns.

The defeat sinks Auburn to 4–3 on the season and 1–2 in conference play with no notable wins. Coach Gus Malzahn and Co. still have Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama remaining on the schedule. In a year when Auburn was expected to contend for the title, the Tigers may be lucky to finish the season with six wins.

After White missed Louis on a potential touchdown pass in the fourth overtime, Malzahn looked exasperated. His expression epitomizes Auburn’s season up to this point: