No. 19 Arkansas 49, Vanderbilt 14
Ryan Mallett kept finding new targets, even as his top receivers kept leaving with injuries.
It was that kind of night for the Arkansas quarterback, who set a school record with 409 yards passing in a 49-14 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Mallett topped his own record of 408 yards, set last year against Georgia, and finished 27 of 44 passing as the No. 19 Razorbacks (6-2, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) won their second straight game. The junior also threw for three touchdowns and connected with eight different receivers as Arkansas scored 43 straight points after trailing early.
Mallett missed parts of each of the past two games with injuries. He suffered a concussion in the first quarter of a loss at Auburn two weeks ago and left with a bruised throwing shoulder in the second half against Mississippi last week.
''Ryan Mallett was focused all week,'' Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. ''He came out today and really read the defense well and threw the ball well also.''
Mallett set the passing mark without his second-leading receiver, Joe Adams, who missed the game with an ankle injury. Also, leading receiver Greg Childs left the game with a leg injury early in the fourth quarter and Jarius Wright - who had 6 catches for 87 yards and a pair of touchdowns - missed action briefly in the second half after a big hit.
The losses didn't stop Mallett from finding new targets, including freshman Julian Horton for a 52-yard completion in the third quarter.
''Everybody just settled in and we wanted to come out and have a great game and perform really good,'' Mallett said. ''We were uptight at first, but after that first series we settled in.
''They basically did what we thought they were going to do, and we just played pitch and catch.''
While Mallett was directing Arkansas' offense nearly flawlessly, the Razorbacks' defense had its way with Vanderbilt after a slow start.
The Commodores (2-6, 1-4) gained 140 yards on their first two possessions, both of which ended in touchdowns as they took a 14-6 first quarter lead. But Vanderbilt only gained 13 yards the rest of the game.
The Commodores changed offensive coordinators earlier in the week after a poor showing in a loss to South Carolina last week. The changes paid off on Vanderbilt's first drive when it went 85 yards in just three plays, highlighted by a 51-yard run by Warren Norman.
Jonathan Krause capped that drive with a 21-yard touchdown run on a reverse to put the Commodores up 7-0, and Larry Smith found Brandon Barden for an 8-yard touchdown pass on their next drive to go up 14-6.
From there, it was all Arkansas. The Razorbacks, led by Mallett, outgained Vanderbilt 555-153 and stormed back to score 26 points in the second quarter on their way to a 32-14 halftime lead.
''I'm very disappointed we started off like game busters, got after them pretty good and made some things happen and unfortunately had some bad things occur,'' Vanderbilt coach Robbie Caldwell said. ''We tried just about everything we had and just shot ourselves in the foot.''
Both of Mallett's touchdown throws to Wright came in the second, and both were from 15 yards out. The first gave the Razorbacks their first lead at 20-14, and the second put them up 29-14.
Knile Davis ran for his second touchdown of the game early in the fourth quarter to put Arkansas up 42-14. The sophomore finished with 124 yards of total offense, 82 on the ground on 19 carries and 42 receiving yards on 3 catches.
Jerico Nelson capped the scoring with a 39-yard interception return for a touchdown for the Razorbacks.
''This was a good win for us today,'' Petrino said. ''We won it the way we should have.''