FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (Univ. of Ark.) - A stifling defensive effort and record-setting ground performance were the recipe for success, as the University of Arkansas football team (3-0) earned a 24-3 victory over Southern Miss inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday.
With 115 yards and one touchdown on the day, Alex Collins became the first freshman in Southeastern Conference history to record three straight 100-yard rushing games to begin his career. Collins also marked the first true freshman in the NCAA with more than two straight 100-yard rushing games since Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson in 2004.
"To get out of there with a 'W' and to play the fourth quarter the way we did was great," head coach Bret Bielema said. "This group, they just keep moving forward. It's a group that learns every day. If we just keep making baby steps, keep playing a fourth-quarter game and keep getting wins in the right column, we'll be alright."
Through the first three games of the season, Arkansas has outscored its opponents 21-0 in the fourth quarter. The Razorbacks have outgained the opposition 292-76 in the fourth quarter of games this season.
Collins and Jonathan Williams combined to rush for 231 yards and a pair of second-half touchdowns, as the Razorbacks made it three straight games with 100-plus yards rushing on the season. The feat marked the first time since 2007 that Arkansas had multiple 100-yard rushers in three straight games.
While the running game stole the show in the second half, it was the turnover-hawking Razorback defense that kept the game tight throughout the first half. Arkansas was opportunistic, with Trey Flowers and Will Hines each grabbing interceptions. Flowers' interception was the first of his career, while Hines recorded his first of the season.
Team captain Chris Smith added a career-high 3.0 sacks on the day, while senior Jarrett Lake added a career-high 13 tackles. In the first half alone, the Arkansas defense recorded two interceptions, two sacks, 3.0 tackles for loss and one forced fumble.
The Arkansas defense held Southern Miss to 254 yards of total offense, marking the first time since 2007 that the Razorbacks held the opposition to less than 300 yards of total offense in three consecutive games.
The Razorbacks started the scoring in the first quarter, as quarterback Brandon Allen scrambled in and scored from five yards out to give Arkansas a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter. Arkansas has scored a touchdown in the first quarter of each of its three games this season.
The teams traded field goals before Williams sparked an offensive resurgence in the third quarter with a 45-yard touchdown run that pushed Arkansas' lead to 17-3. Collins followed up with a score of his own in the fourth quarter, reaching the end zone on a 7-yard touchdown run and posting the 24-3 final score.
Arkansas prepares to take its first road trip of the season next weekend, heading to Piscataway, N.J., to face Rutgers on Sept. 21. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m.