OPINION | WALLY HALL: Nix a pest to still-improved Razorbacks

On a glorious afternoon without a cloud in the sky, it appeared the Arkansas Razorbacks were headed for a homecoming victory.

Then Lady Luck quit smiling on them, they made mistakes and lost 38-23 despite once again winning most of the statistical battles.

After trailing 14-3 and unable to slow Auburn quarterback Bo Nix, the Razorbacks got an interception by Montaric Brown, and with time running out in the first half KJ Jefferson jumped, pumped and finally dumped a pass to Treylon Burks in the back of the end zone for a touchdown.

Auburn had won the toss and took the ball, so the Razorbacks received the second half kickoff and drove 75 yards in six plays for a 17-14 lead early in the third quarter.

The touchdown was a 30-yard pass from Jefferson to Burks who you knew was going to catch it as soon as he touched it.

Burks, who comes from a long list of great football players -- especially receivers -- from Warren, had nine catches for 109 yards.

On Auburn's first two possessions of the second half, the Tigers went three and out and the crowd of 73,370 were on their feet, until Jefferson was sacked in the end zone, fumbled and Auburn recovered for a touchdown and a 21-17 lead.

Arkansas started that possession at its on 11 when a punt wasn't fielded after a 20-yard roll.

The Razorbacks appeared unfazed, but when their next drive stalled at the Auburn 31, they went for it on fourth down and came up short.

Auburn took over with 4:27 to play in the third quarter, and 11 seconds later had stretched their lead to 28-17 on a 71-yard bomb down the middle to unguarded Demetris Robertson.

Arkansas would rally with a touchdown, but the two point conversion failed, and all momentum seemed to swing Auburn's way.

The Razorbacks didn't give the game away, and the referees didn't steal it either.

They had 460 yards of offense, 29 first downs, converted 10 of 19 third downs.

What bit the Hogs hard was the same thing that got them last week: An experienced quarterback.

Nix completed 21 of 26 passes for 292 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus he ran 5 times for 42 yards and another touchdown.

This was not a case of the Razorbacks finding a way to lose.

Auburn is a good football team.

Probably what hurt the Hogs the most was injuries. They played without Jalen Catalon, their best defensive back, and several other players who were banged up.

This is still the same team that beat Texas and Texas A&M but with bumps and bruises.

Catalon played two games with a cast on his hand before behind sidelined with more injuries. Now he is out for the season because of shoulder surgery set for Monday.

This team fights hard every game. There are just no easy games in the SEC, at least not in the Western Division.

Sam Pittman has turned a corner with this program, and as far as they have come in 1 1/2-half seasons, which is pretty remarkable, they are just starting down the path of success.

This is a league where national champions are crowned but not in their second season.

Pittman knows what it takes to get to the next level. It starts with recruiting and now involves the transfer portal.

Arkansas played better Saturday than it had in the two seasons combined before Pittman came aboard.

The train he is driving is going to have some learning curves and with more luck and a perfect game the Razorbacks might have won on Saturday.

They are as good as Auburn, maybe even a little better on offense, but Auburn had more luck and some of that luck was made by an experienced quarterback who had something to prove.

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