Fayetteville, AR (Sports Network) - Ryan Mallett tossed three touchdown passes to lead 17th-ranked Arkansas to a 44-3 rout of Tennessee Tech in the opener for both schools.
Mallett went 21-for-24 for 301 yards along with a pick for the Razorbacks (1-0), who went 8-5 last season, including their first bowl victory since 2003 with a 20-17 win over East Carolina in the Liberty Bowl.
"The first win is always the toughest one," said Mallett. "You never know what to expect the first game out. Tennessee Tech did some things well in the first half, but we were able to adjust in the second half and played really good defense."
Ronnie Wingo Jr., Dennis Johnson and Broderick Green each had a score on the ground while Joe Adams finished the game with six catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Cobi Hamilton caught the other touchdown.
"I thought our offense struggled at times, especially when we get a penalty on fourth and one, and throw an interception on another opportunity for us to score," said Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino. "We did throw and catch the ball pretty well. It took us awhile to get our running game established. I like the way we came out of halftime, because we started to settle down and run the ball better."
Tre Lamb went 6-for-13 for 99 yards for the Golden Eagles (0-1), who finished last season with a 6-5 mark in the Ohio Valley Conference of the FCS. Cass Barnes carried the ball eight times for 31 yards while Henry Sailes had two catches for 40 yards in the loss.
"I think we are leaving here a better team than we came," said Tennessee Tech head coach Watson Brown. "If we didn't get hurt, I don't think we're too bad. When you play team that good in hostile atmosphere you can't do anything but get better and improve in my opinion. I was proud of our guys though. They competed and played with class all night."
The Razorbacks were stopped on a fourth down play in Tennessee Tech territory on their first possession and the Golden Eagles took advantage by moving the ball 51 yards in 10 plays and capped the drive on a 27-yard field goal from Matthew Barker for a 3-0 lead a bit less than five minutes in.
Mallett was picked off on Arkansas' ensuing touch, but held the Golden Eagles to a three-and-out and in five plays got the ball into the end zone on a seven-yard run around the left end by Johnson for a 7-3 lead early in the second. The score was setup by a 37-yard diving catch from Hamilton.
Tennessee Tech got pinned deep in its own end on the kickoff and the Arkansas defense took advantage as Jocques Crawford was forced out of bounds in his own end zone for the safety and a 9-3 lead.
After getting the ball back due to the safety, Arkansas added to its lead as a nine-play, 49-yard drive was finished on a one-yard run into the end zone by Green for a 16-3 lead with just over nine minutes to play in the first half.
An 85-yard bomb from Mallett to Adams extended the Razorbacks' lead to 23-3 with 4 1/2 minutes to play in the first half.
Arkansas made it a 30-3 game on its first touch of the second half as Wingo took the ball into the end zone from 10 yards a bit under four minutes in.
A three-yard toss from Mallett to Hamilton gave the Razorbacks a 37-3 lead with under six minutes to play in the third.
Mallett's third touchdown pass of the game went to Adams on a 15-yard score for a 44-3 lead with 2:41 left in the third.
This was the first-ever meeting between these two schools...Arkansas totaled 519 yards of offense compared to just 187 for Tennessee Tech...Knile Davis had six carries for 67 yards for the Razorbacks...Arkansas has its highest ranking coming into the season since 1990.
09/05 00:23:17 ET