With a new starter under center, the Razorbacks (2-1) torched Colorado State University (1-2) for six touchdowns and 520 total yards in a 55-34 victory at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday.
Junior quarterback Nick Starkel guided the Hogs’ offense to victory after being named the starter by head coach Chad Morris earlier this week. Starkel completed 20/35 passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns in his first start since 2017 (for Texas A&M at the Belk Bowl against Wake Forest). Arkansas had only one passing touchdown and 37 points in their first two games combined.
“I’m very proud of the way all our guys, defensively [and] offensively, just put their hand on Nick and said, ‘Let’s go, man. You’re our guy and we’re going to support you. Go show us,’” Morris said. “And he did.”
Arkansas got in trouble just 18 seconds into the game, when CSU tailback Marvin Kinsey Jr. broke off a 75-yard touchdown run through the Razorbacks defense. The Hogs responded less than two minutes later when freshman receiver Trey Knox snagged a 24-yard dime from Starkel for his first career touchdown. Knox had six catches for 90 yards and was targeted twice as often as any other wideout.
Treylon Burks, another freshman receiver, had four receptions and led the team in receiving yardage with 92. Knox and Burks were targeted 15 times combined, and the rest of the team was targeted 19 times.
Junior tailback Rakeem Boyd lit up the stadium when he darted through the middle of the Rams’ defense for a 59-yard rushing touchdown to make it 21-7 Arkansas in the first quarter. He picked up another touchdown in the third quarter and ended with 127 rushing yards on 20 carries.
Senior tight end Cheyenne O’Grady led the team in receptions (30) and touchdowns (6) in 2018 but was yet to find the end zone until Saturday. O’Grady caught a pass near the sideline and fought off five CSU defenders en route to a 62-yard touchdown that gave Arkansas a two-possession lead.
After the game, Morris said O’Grady missed a day of practice this week due to strep throat, and he did not know if he was going to play Saturday.
“I had to suck it up and decide to fight through it,” O’Grady said. “Back in the day, (Michael Jordan) played in a playoff game with the flu and scored, what, like, 40-something points?”
The Hogs finished the fourth quarter by forcing a fumble which redshirt freshman cornerback LaDarrius Bishop returned for Arkansas’ seventh and final touchdown. Arkansas has scored a defensive touchdown in each of its first three games.
“Our guys weren’t going to let this happen again,” Morris said. “They were certain we were going to go win this thing in the fourth quarter.”