FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — With a taste of early season success for a change, Arkansas coach Bret Bielema wasn’t about to let the No. 24 Razorbacks get complacent after a double-overtime win over TCU last week.
Especially considering Arkansas’ two victories entering this weekend had come by a total of four points.
Led once again by the emergence of Austin Allen at quarterback and a defensive effort that included the Razorbacks’ second interception return for a touchdown in as many weeks, Arkansas (3-0) didn’t let up. The Razorbacks won for the ninth time in 10 games with a 42-3 victory over Texas State on Saturday night.
“I knew our guys were going to hear about how good they played last week, and I really put the screws to them about turning the page,” Bielema said. “I think they did a pretty good job of that, because in this league if you worry too much about what happened yesterday, tomorrow will hit you in the face.”
Allen threw for 241 yards and a pair of touchdowns before being pulled late in the third quarter, and he was supported by a defense that held the Bobcats (1-1) to 105 yards of total offense.
That effort included Ryan Pulley’s 25-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter that put Arkansas up 21-0, a play that followed linebacker Brooks Ellis’ return for a score a week earlier against the Horned Frogs.
The defensive performance was one of the Razorbacks best in four seasons under Bielema — with Arkansas outgaining Texas State 350-26 in total yardage in the first half and holding the Bobcats to 22 yards rushing on 26 carries in the game.
The Razorbacks had four sacks in the win, with defensive lineman Jeremiah Ledbetter leading the way with 1 ½ sacks and a pair of pass breakups.
“I have to give credit to my defensive line for creating the pressure,” Pulley said.
Texas State quarterback Tyler Jones, who matched the school record with 418 yards passing two weeks ago in a triple-overtime win over Ohio, finished 11-of-26 passing for 83 yards on Saturday.
The Bobcats trailed 35-0 at halftime, and they didn’t reach Arkansas’ side of the field until late in the first half — and only after a Razorbacks fumble gave them the starting field position.
“They were big and physical, just like we thought they would be,” first-year Texas State coach Everett Withers said. “… They’re deserving of a Top 25 spot, I believe.”
Arkansas running back Rawleigh Williams topped the 100-yard rushing mark for the second straight game, finishing with 121 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.
Texas State: The Bobcats put together an impressive performance in their season-opening triple-overtime win over Ohio, but they were outmatched against Arkansas. Texas State can look ahead, however, to an easier Sun Belt Conference schedule and count on improvement from the experienced Jones, who made his 33rd career start on Saturday.
Arkansas: As convincing as the win was for the Razorbacks, it also came with an element of relief — particularly after they struggled in a one-point win over Louisiana Tech two weeks ago. Now Arkansas can enter next week’s SEC opener full of confidence, and with thoughts of starting the season 5-0 before its next home game against No. 1 Alabama on Oct. 8.
SHORT ON TIME
With Arkansas ahead 42-3 after three quarters and inclement weather nearing the area, both coaches agreed to shorten the game by five minutes and play only a 10-minute fourth quarter.
Arkansas: A week after returning to the Top 25 following a double-overtime win over TCU, the Razorbacks are all but assured of moving up after their dominating performance on Saturday — setting up an early Southeastern Conference showdown against Texas A&M next week.
Texas State: The schedule doesn’t immediately get any easier for the Bobcats, who once again faced a ranked opponent when they host No. 6 Houston next week.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks return to Texas for the second time in three weeks when they face the No. 17 Aggies in the annual Southwest Classic at AT&T Stadium.
AP college football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org