No. 11 Florida’s first offensive play of the game went for a pick-six so you could certainly say the team set the tone early in their trip to Arkansas. Unfortunately for them, it was not the tone they were looking for.
Bret Bielema pulled off yet another November upset of a top 15 team on Saturday as the Razorbacks beat the SEC East-leading Gators 31-10 in a game they dominated from start to finish.
Austin Allen didn’t have the sharpest afternoon at quarterback but did enough to get a big win at home, throwing for 243 yards, a touchdown and an interception (that also went for a pick-six). He kept the defense from stacking the box for the most part, allowing tailback Rawleigh Williams to have a big outing to the tune of 148 yards and two scores — the latter of which was a 41-yarder in the fourth quarter to ice the game.
Florida’s offense failed to do much of anything, scoring just once on a nine-play field goal drive but otherwise punting seven times. Luke Del Rio threw that pick-six on his first pass of the game, tossed another interception later on and needed a late drive when the game was all but over to top the 200 yard mark through the air. H didn’t get any help from the run game though, with just 14 rushing attempts (three were sacks) for 12 yards.
The Gators normally reliable defense continued to get hit hard by injuries, with linebackers Alex Anzalone (shoulder) and Jarrad Davis (ankle) both among the walking wounded that left the game in the second half. As if that weren’t bad enough, the team also had to deal with being on the field for a whopping 39:21 of game time thanks to the combination of their team’s own bad offense and the ball-control attack of Arkansas.
While Arkansas becomes bowl eligible with the result, the loss further muddles the SEC East standings. Florida will head home tied with Kentucky at 4-2 in the division (the Wildcats play Georgia later on Saturday) and puts their spot in Atlanta in jeopardy if they were to drop one of their remaining games against a rising South Carolina squad or on their trip to LSU for a makeup game.
That’s to say nothing of ending any hope of reaching the College Football Playoff as a surprise two-loss team, but you can probably bet head coach Jim McElwain isn’t worried about that after the kind of performance the Gators had against Arkansas.