Missouri 38, Arkansas 7

Missouri's Tony Temple rushes for a Cotton Bowl record 281 yards and an event-record four touchdowns and defensive MVP William Moore takes an interception back for a score as the Tigers whip Arkansas 38-7 at the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic before 73,114 fans in Dallas.

DALLAS - One of the best-looking running backs in the country had a big New Year's Day.

It just wasn't the one that most people expected.

MVP Tony Temple had 159 of his record-setting 281 yards and two of his record-setting four touchdowns by halftime and helped lead Missouri over Arkansas 38-7 in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.

"Obviously Missouri played very well today and we did about everything we could to help them," Arkansas interim head coach Reggie Herring said. "Not taking anything away from them - I thought they played extremely well - but to be honest with you I am a little bit blindsided by the way we played. I thought we would have a better result in this game."

Temple, who tied the Cotton Bowl record with his three scores, shined brightly on a day when the Missouri defense limited Arkansas standouts Darren McFadden (21 carries, 105 yards) and Felix Jones (10 carries, 45 yards) to below their normal output.

"That is not Arkansas football that you saw today," Herring said. "...I just really expected us to play better. We are not that bad is what I am trying to say. My hat's off to them, but the way we played today, we couldn't have beaten anybody."

McFadden agreed.

"You have to give them credit," McFadden said. "They wanted it more than we did. We didn't come with it ready to play so you have got to give them full credit." Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel was obviously pleased with the effort of his team.

"First of all, I am just very proud of my team and the staff," Pinkel said. "I got doused with Gatorade with is a great feeling...Here we are five years later (from when he was hired) with a Cotton Bowl win and going to be ranked somewhere in the Top 10 in the country. That's kind of overwhelming because at that time it was very difficult. I impressed that upon my team the whole week."

Arkansas, wearing red tops and pants for the first time ever in honor of retired athletic director Frank Broyles, had no answer for Temple.

"This is a proud program and we had the people in place to play well and we didn't get it done," Herring said. "Kicking games, we made some mistakes that really help us; we didn't tackle well on defense and on offense we just stumbled all day long."

Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel, like McFadden a Heisman Trophy finalist, was 12-of-29 passing on the day for 136 yards with an interception for the Tigers (12-2), who were ranked No. 1 in the country until losing to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship game.

"They dropped 9 or 10 guys in coverage and it's pretty hard to throw against that," Daniel said. "But that just allowed Tony to have his big day."

Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick was 19-of-32 for 197 yards in the last game before former Louisville and Atlanta Falcons head coach Bobby Petrino takes over as the new Razorback head coach.

It was the first game in 10 years that Houston Nutt was not the head coach of the Razorbacks (8-5) as defensive coordinator Reggie Herring served as interim head coach with Nutt now at Ole Miss.

It was quite the stumble for the UA after ending the regular season with a 50-48 win at then No. 1 LSU.

"You can't win football games giving up over 300 yards rushing," Herring said. "Some of those long runs were just inexcusable. We just didn't play very well. We didn't put the hat on the ball."

The Razorbacks only score of the game came after they fell down 28-0 in the third quarter with McFadden scoring on a 3-yard run at the 3:08 mark.

The UA squad did play without senior starting safety Matt Hewitt, who was apparently benched by the coaching staff.

"Matt did not seem to be himself before the game," Herring said. "As far as Matt and how much he played, I know that how that he didn't move around in pre-game and look himself. There might have been a concern by a coach that he shouldn't play as much today."

Arkansas looked like it might get the first points of the game when it took the opening possession of the game and marched down the field.

But a 13-play drive that covered 48 yards ended without getting on the scoreboard when freshman kicker Alex Tejada missed wide right on a 35-yard attempt.

Missouri jumped out to a 7-0 lead on its second possession of the day by going 73 yards in six plays.

The last three plays of that jaunt were a 22-yard pass from Daniel to Will Franklin, a 12-yard pass play between the two and then Temple bursting the final 22 yards into the end zone with 2:29 left in the first quarter.

It was still 7-0 when Arkansas converted a fake punt on 4th-and-4 at the Missouri 35, but someone on the Razorback sideline called timeout and that was nullified.

They tried a different variation of the fake and it was stopped short of the first down.

"I thought that was a huge momentum change in the game," Herring said. "If we get that, who knows what happens there. We saw something there (the first time) that made us not want to go and run the play." Asked who called the timeout before the successful fake, Herring mentioned Dr. Suess.

"That useless information," Herring said. "I am thinking of a Doctor Suess poem right now - it was Who? Who was Mr. Who? It was Who. Who was on third?' To be honest with you, they had nothing to do with how we played today."

That margin grew to 14-0 late in the second quarter when Temple carried 4 times for 66 yards on a 6-play, 82-yard drive.

He had runs of 2, 22, 38 and the touchdown scamper of 4 yards into paydirt with 4:25 remaining before intermission.

"I can't give enough credit to my offensive line," Temple said. "First of all, I want to thank God, but I just kept looking at my offensive line saying 'let's go, let's go.'"

Arkansas got big kick returns from both Jones and McFadden into Missouri territory in the first half, but turned the ball over on one set of downs and Tejada missed a 37-yarder on the other.

The Razorbacks' misery continued right out of the gate in the third quarter when an ill-advised squib kick left Missouri with a short field at the Arkansas 48.

"We were trying to squib it down to about the 20," Herring said. "That's that way the thing went. Our kicker in pre-game wasn't kicking the ball very well and we were concerned about him as well as (Jeremy) Macklin, number nine. When you call squib, squib is to kick it deep, not hit a front line player and them get the ball at midfield. It was a huge mistake as far as field position goes."

Six plays later, Temple was in the end zone again on a 4-yard run as the Tigers pushed their lead to 21-0.

Moore picked off his eight pass of the year and returned from the 26 to bump that up to 28-0.

After McFadden's score, Arkansas' Jerell Norton fumbled a punt and Jeff Wolfert added a 32-yard field goal with 10:25 left in the game as Missouri went ahead 31-7.

Temple, needing a yard to be the first player in Missouri history to have back-to-back 1,000 yard season, got that yard and more when he capped the scoring with a 40-yard touchdown run.

That also broke Dickey Maegle's Cotton Bowl record of 265 yards.

There were several missed tackles on the play.

"I don't know where all those missed tackles came from today," Herring said. "We were not crisped tacklers. We were just not ourselves. I guess I have to take that blame...They had 400 and something yards and that is never a good day. We didn't play with the toughness and tenacity that we usually do. It was just a bad game overall."

Arkansas had a chance to score late in the game, but Dick's pass for Lance Thompson was broken up in the end zone on 4th-and-goal with 1:20 left in the game.

Photos by Marc Henning

Arkansas running back Felix Jones fights off Missouri defender Hardy Ricks.

Felix Jones breaks away on a kick-off return in the opening half.

Missouri's Castine Bridges breaks up a pass intended for Arkansas tight end Andrew Davie.

Peyton Hillis rumbles for yardage as Missouri's Steve Redmond makes a tackle.

Arkansas' Darren McFadden dives for extra yardage on during the first half of action on Tuesday.

Hawgs Daily Top Stories