BOX SCORE Auburn 45, Arkansas 21
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Jeremy Johnson passed for 243 yards and two touchdowns in the first half and Nick Marshall returned from suspension with a 19-yard scoring run to lift No. 6 Auburn to a 45-21 opening victory over Arkansas on Saturday.
The Tigers scored the final 24 points after the Razorbacks managed to force a halftime deadlock. The game was delayed 1 hour, 28 minutes due to lightning in the area during the fourth quarter.
Marshall, who led Auburn to the SEC title last season and the national championship game, started the second half after serving his punishment for getting ticketed in July for possession of a small amount of marijuana. Junior college transfer D'haquille Williams supplied the most electrifying performance with nine catches for 154 yards in his debut, including a 62-yard bomb and an 18-yard touchdown from Johnson.
Cameron Artis-Payne rushed for a career-high 177 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries after replacing Heisman Trophy finalist Tre Mason. Jermaine Whitehead returned an interception off Brandon Allen 33 yards for a touchdown.
Allen completed 18 of 31 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns, five days after his truck was burned early Monday morning. Alex Collins ran for 68 yards on 10 carries.
Auburn outgained the Razorbacks 595-328, allowing just 61 yards in the second half after a shaky start defensively.
The Tigers, who led the nation in rushing last season, gained 302 yards on the ground after managing just 68 by halftime.
Marshall watched from the sidelines until warming up on an exercise bike before going into the game. His touchdown run was the only time Arkansas gave him room to run. The potential Heisman Trophy contender was just 4-of-6 passing for 50 yards while gaining 19 yards on eight carries, counting a sack.
Marshall darted up the middle for a touchdown after coming into the game to start the second half, giving the Tigers a 28-21 lead. He also had a 28-yard third-down completion to a leaping Melvin Ray, who made a one-handed grab.
Arkansas stopped Auburn on the next two drives to stay within striking distance. Then Robenson Therezie hit Allen as he threw to force a badly underthrown ball. Whitehead picked it off and raced for the end zone.
Therezie had been cleared to play Friday night after unspecified questions about his eligibility.
Before that play, Allen had been mostly holding his own after struggling most of last season with shoulder problems. He led the Razorbacks back from a 21-7 deficit with two second quarter touchdown drives. Jonathan Williams' 6-yard run capped a 93-yard march and tied the game at 21-21 with 4:28 left.
Auburn's offense didn't really miss a beat with Johnson, who completed his first eight passes. He threw for a 49-yard touchdown to Ray, a former minor league baseball player, and an 18-yarder to Williams.