Tyler Wilson threw for a school-record 510 yards, Jarius Wright caught 13 passes for a school-record 281 yards and the No. 18 Arkansas Razorbacks turned an 18-point halftime deficit into a 42-38 victory on Saturday at Arlington, Texas, giving No. 14 Texas A&M a rude preview of life in the SEC.
"We played in the second half with a tremendous amount of heart, competitive spirit, toughness," Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. "It was a really good win."
Texas A&M scored five touchdowns in the first half, all on the ground against a defense that had allowed only a single rushing touchdown over four previous games. The Razorbacks snapped back to form in the second half, yielding only a field goal, albeit one that gave the Aggies a 38-35 lead with 4:22 left.
Then Broderick Green ran 3 yards for a touchdown with 1:41 left to put Arkansas (4-1) ahead for the first time. One defensive stand later, the celebrations broke out among the Hogs' half of the 69,838 fans, further punctuated with chants of, "S-E-C! S-E-C!"
Meanwhile, the Aggies (2-2) and their fans were forced to accept a second straight agonizing defeat.
Just a week before, they gave up a 17-point halftime lead at home to a member of the Big 12, the conference they're leaving behind. Now, they've blown an even bigger lead to a team from the conference they just announced they're joining. It's a 1-2 punch that has taken them from No. 8 and the cusp of the national title chase to likely the back end of the top 25 and sinking in the conference race.
"We'll have some heart-to-hearts this week, particularly on Monday, about which direction we're going to go and make sure that what happened today doesn't happen again," Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman said.
The Aggies have dropped seven straight games to SEC teams, dating to 1995, or back when they were in the Southwest Conference. That makes them 0-for-the-Big-12-era against teams from their new league.
"I don't put a whole lot of stock into all that stuff," Sherman said. "We're in the Big 12 right now and we need to win in the Big 12. We're focusing more on this season. We'll worry about next season, next season, when we are in that conference."
Wilson shattered the school passing record of 409 set by Ryan Mallett against Vanderbilt last season. He was 30 of 51 with three touchdowns, including a pinpoint 68-yarder to Wright. He also ran for a 2-point conversion that tied the game 35-35, and led the nine-play, 80-yard drive for the winning touchdown.
Most of all, Wilson guided Arkansas to points on four of six second-half drives before the kneel-down at the end.
"You can't get caught up in how many passing yards you've thrown for or what the score is," Wilson said. "It's just chipping away. We had success spreading 'em out in an empty formation. I knew we'd have success in the second half if the defense could hold 'em a few times."
Wright broke the school receiving record of 204 yards by halftime. He wound up also tying the record for catches. And, get this — in a single game, he got more than a quarter of the yardage needed for the single-season record of 1,004. With at least seven games left, he's already at 478.
"We saw before the game, that they left the middle open a lot," Wright said. "They did it again us too and we had to make them pay."
His best play wasn't a catch, but a head's up recovery of a fumble by fellow receiver Cobi Hamilton as the ball was rolling into the end zone. That touchdown got Arkansas within 35-33, setting up Wilson's conversion that tied it.
"I was over there trying to get a block for Cobi," Wright said. "I saw the ball squirt out and when I saw that, I had it in my head that I had to get the ball."
Green was thought to have been lost for the season because of a knee injury sustained during spring practice. But in his season debut, he rumbled for 25 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries.
"I never saw this happening at all," he said "I thought I'd come back next year. I feel amazing. I was pumped. I kept telling myself, 'I can do this."'
For all the offensive fireworks, the Arkansas defense deserves credit, too.
The Razorbacks went from giving up 404 yards in the first half to 224 in the second half.
Texas A&M14 21 0 3—38 Arkansas 7 10 10 15—42
TAM—Michael 48 run (Bullock kick), 12:48.
TAM—Michael 4 run (Bullock kick), 8:45.
Ark—J.Wright 68 pass from Wilson (Hocker kick), 2:26.
TAM—Gray 1 run (Bullock kick), 10:53.
Ark—B.Green 1 run (Hocker kick), 9:09.
TAM—Michael 29 run (Bullock kick), 7:05.
Ark—FG Hocker 26, 3:05.
TAM—Gray 4 run (Bullock kick), :09.
Ark—FG Hocker 32, 11:44.
Ark—Wingo 13 pass from Wilson (Hocker kick), 7:29.
Ark—J.Wright recovered fumble in end zone (Wilson run), 11:00.
TAM—FG Bullock 23, 4:22.
Ark—B.Green 3 run (Hocker kick), 1:41.
Time of Possession31:5628:04
Rushing—Texas A&M, Michael 32-230, Gray 17-95, Tannehill 5-56.
Arkansas, Johnson 8-54, B.Green 9-25, Wingo 6-24, Team 1-(minus 3),
Wilson 6-(minus 29).
Passing—Texas A&M, Tannehill 25-35-1-247. Arkansas,
Receiving—Texas A&M, Fuller 9-82, R.Swope 5-92, Nwachukwu 4-35,
Askew 2-20, Prioleau 2-8, Michael 2-7, Gray 1-3. Arkansas,
J.Wright 13-281, Johnson 4-69, Wingo 4-30, Hamilton 3-47, Gragg 2-31,
Childs 1-19, Horton 1-19, Humphrey 1-9, Wade 1-5.
No. 2 Oklahoma 62, Ball St. 6 — Landry Jones threw for 425 yards and five touchdowns, Tony Jefferson fueled a second-quarter scoring surge with three interceptions and second-ranked Oklahoma geared up for its rivalry game against Texas next week by beating Ball State at Norman, Okla.
Jones had touchdown passes of 64 yards to Ryan Broyles and 56 yards to Jaz Reynolds a minute apart in the third quarter during the second high-volume scoring stretch for the Sooners (4-0).
Ball State (3-2) didn't stand much of a chance after recovering an onside kick to open the game, then going three-and-out. Jefferson stopped three straight Cardinal drives with picks midway through the second quarter.