Rapid Reaction: Arkansas bounces back, thumps Florida to create chaos in East
There’s chaos in the SEC East race after Arkansas’ 31-10 victory over No. 11 Florida on Saturday.
They’re partying in Lexington and Knoxville right now because Florida has fallen to 4-2 in conference play. If Kentucky beats Georgia later Saturday night, the Wildcats will be a half-game above the Gators. If Kentucky loses, Florida will be a half-game ahead of Kentucky. The Gators own the head-to-head tiebreaker over Kentucky.
With two conference games left, UF looks highly unlikely to win both and win the division outright.
What it means
While the Hogs had a miserable game against Auburn, it turns out Bret Bielema’s squad wasn’t nearly as bad as it looked on Oct. 22. Arkansas is still on the outside looking in when it comes to the SEC West race, but the victory gets the Razorbacks back on track. The Gators head back to Gainesville looking to pick up the pieces and regroup from another beating against a West squad.
What I liked
Florida: After recording two big pass breakups against Georgia, NB Duke Dawson made another a big play on pass defense with a pick-six. Eddy Pineiro made a 50-yard field goal in his first attempt in a true hostile environment.
Arkansas: The Hogs established the ground game early with a one-two punch of Rawleigh Williams and Devwah Whaley. While much is made of Florida’s pass defense, Austin Allen overcame the pick-six and had no problem throwing on the Gators. It wasn’t Allen’s greatest game when it came to completion percentage, but he threw for 243 yards thanks to multiple big plays.
On defense, the Razorbacks dominated. UF QB Luke Del Rio was ineffective under frequent pressure and the Florida ground game was MIA, failing to create a big play.
What I didn’t like
Florida: I didn’t like having to watch the Gators on offense. They were that bad.
Early in the fourth quarter, a CBS graphic showed that the Gators had only play in the opponents territory while Arkansas had run 19.
When facing a team that just gave up 543 yards on the ground, the Gators favored the pass (13-to-9) in the first half. The first time Florida crossed the 50-yard line into Arkansas territory, Del Rio threw an air punt toward the end zone that resulted in an easy pick for the Razorbacks safety.
Similar to the Tennessee game, Florida’s defense had a half in which it struggled playing a capable offense on the road.
Arkansas: This admittedly feels like nitpicking considering the Razorbacks’ dominance, but Allen was scrambling to get away from pressure at times. Illegal blocks negated multiple big runs for the Hogs.
Who’s the man
Senior wideout Drew Morgan played up to the challenge of facing UF’s vaunted secondary. Morgan finished with seven catches for 95 yards and a touchdown.
The pick-six on Del Rio’s first pass helped set the tone, give Arkansas confidence and get the sellout Donald W. Reynolds Stadium crowd into the game. Coming off the miserable Week 8 loss, it’s exactly what the Hogs needed.
Florida looks to stay in SEC East contention and bounce back against South Carolina, the Gators’ final home game of the season. Arkansas looks to claim the Golden Boot for the third consecutive year as LSU comes to Fayetteville.