San Jose State (2-1, 0-0) beat Arkansas (2-2, 0-1) 31-24 on Saturday for the team’s first ever win against an SEC school and its first win against a school in a power-five conference since 2006.
The Razorbacks allowed San Jose to accumulate 503 yards of total offense. The Spartans, who had only won one game in their last two seasons, found success through the air on both sides of the ball, throwing for 402 yards and intercepting five passes.
SJSU senior quarterback Josh Love found wide receiver Bailey Gaither streaking down the middle for a 50-yard pass to start the day, as Arkansas allowed a 50+ yard gain on the first play of the game for the second consecutive week. SJSU scored later in the opening drive, marking the fourth consecutive game that Arkansas has conceded first.
“I didn’t think we could get any pressure on the quarterback, for one,” Razorbacks head coach Chad Morris said. “I thought the guy had a chance to sit back there and eat a sandwich.”
Love completed 32 of 49 passes (65%) for 402 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He consistently found wide receiver Tre Walker, as he snagged 12 of the 15 balls thrown his way for 161 yards.
Walker missed the first two games of the 2019 season and exploded onto the scene against Arkansas Saturday night.
On the home side, junior quarterback Nick Starkel threw five interceptions, completing 28 of 50 passes for 356 yards and three touchdowns. Starkel had thrown only one interception this season prior to the game, but has now matched the number of picks he threw during his 2017 season at Texas A&M (6), in nearly half as many attempts.
“At the end of the day, I was not good enough tonight,” Starkel said. “But that doesn’t mean that my teammates don’t believe in me. And if I’ve got the ball in my hand I’m going to keep fighting. I am going to go out swinging if I am going out.”
The Razorback pass catchers were a bright spot for the Hogs, especially in the fourth quarter. Sophomore wide receiver Mike Woods, sophomore wide receiver Tyson Morris, and freshman receiver Trey Knox all caught touchdown passes, with the latter hauling in a game-tying 8-yard touchdown catch in traffic with just under three minutes left in the game.
Just after, San Jose executed just five plays as they marched down the field and scored the game-winning touchdown in just under two minutes to secure a 31-24 victory.
“(Those) guys outplayed us, outcoached us, and I was very disappointed in the effort we got tonight,” Morris said. “For three quarters, they were the SEC football team.”
Arkansas struggled on first down throughout the game, averaging just over five yards per attempt, while SJSU averaged more than eight yards. Also, three of the Razorbacks’ five turnovers occurred on first down. The Hogs were 6-for-15 on third down and 1-for-3 on fourth down.
“I was very disappointed in our lack of short-yardage conversions that stalled drives,” Morris said. “That’s a gut check is what that is. That’s all that is.”
The Razorbacks travel to Arlington, Texas, to take on No. 23 Texas A&M (2-2), (0-1) in the Southwest Classic at AT&T Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 28.
“We’re not good enough to be able to come out and just walk out on the field with a Razorback logo on your helmet and expect you’re going to win,” Morris said. “You’ve got to show up and play. And we did not show up to play. This will be a defining moment for this football team this week and moving forward.”