For Coach Ralph Spry's Tigers, the performance was the best in school history. The Tigers led going into the final day, but couldn't hold on to the edge because of the Razorbacks' strength in the distance events contested late Saturday night.
Arkansas finished with 59 points while Auburn scored 50 and Southern Cal was third with 41.5. Auburn's previous best was a third place finish, also under Spry's direction.
Junior Leevan Sands scored 18 points for the Tigers.
Auburn athletes were qualified for the finals in three events on the final day on Saturday. Senior Sanjay Ayer was the first to finish and he picked up three points with a sixth place in the 400 meters. Auburn started the final day with a 37-30 lead over Arkansas. Ayer's points extended Auburn's lead to 40 to 30 over Arkansas and Nebraska, which were tied for second.
Adam Steele, a junior from Minnesota, won the race in 44.57. Ayer ran a 45.29, which was one-hundreth of a second behind Kelly Willie, a freshman from LSU. Ayer took fourth place in the event as a junior in a time of 45.10.
Arkansas pulled ahead in the 16th event of the meet, the 1,500 meters, with a second and fifth place finish to lead Auburn 42-40 while Nebraska moved to third with 33 points.
Arkansas extended its lead to three points when football player Ahmad "Batman" Carroll finished eighth in the 200 meters for one point.
Auburn regained the lead when Leevan Sands took second place in the triple jump to go with his championship in the long jump on Friday. Julien Kapek, a senior from Southern Cal, was the winner with a leap of 56 feet, two inches. Sands, a junior, jumped 55 feet, 6 1/4 inches. Allen Simms of Southern Cal was third at 55 feet, 5 1/2 inches.
After the triple jump, Auburn had 48 points to 43 for Arkansas, 41.5 for Southern California and 33 for Nebraska, which fell to fourth place.
Like a tennis match, it was the Razorbacks' turn to take a swing in the 800 meters and junior Robbie Stevens finished third for six points. That put Arkansas back into the lead, 49-48 over the Tigers with just two events left to go.
Auburn had no qualifiers in the 5,000 and Arkansas junior Alistair Cragg was one of the favorites. He came through with a first place time of 13:47.87 to defeat Louis Luchini of Stanford, who ran a 13:49.81. The 10 points in that event mathematically eliminated Auburn giving the Razorbacks 59 points to Auburn's 48.
Auburn picked up two more points in the final event, the 4x400 relay, with a time of 3:05.51 for seventh place. Dean Griffiths, the 400 hurdles champ, ran the first leg followed by Tim Green, Fred Sharpe and Ayer. LSU won the race in 3:02.01.
"I am so proud of our team and how they fought back this week," said Coach Ralph Spry, whose team overcame the shock of having its star and two-time NCAA champion Gabor Mate not even qualify for the finals of the discus.
"We gave ourselves a chance to win, but things didn't fall our way," Spry said. "We came here to win the title and finished second. We will enjoy it for a while, but we already have our sights set on a title down the road."
The Top 10 featured Arkansas with 59 points, Auburn with 50, Southern Cal with 41.50, LSU with 36, Nebraska with 33, Florida 32, Stanford and Tennessee tied for seventh with 30, Minnesota scored 29 and South Carolina was 10th with 22.
Elva Goulbourne defended her NCAA individual title in the long jump.
LSU won the women's title with 64 points while Texas was runnerup with 50. Auburn scored 18 points to finish 14th.
Auburn had just one women's competitor in Saturday's competition. Daniele rowning ran a person record time of 23.30 to take seventh in the 200 meters.
Goulbourne won one individual title for the women's team while Sands was a winner in the long jump and Griffiths finished first in the 400 hurdles for the men's team.