Fayetteville, AR – Tyler Wilson threw for 367 yards and three touchdowns, as No. 10 Arkansas rolled past Jacksonville State, 49-24, in John L. Smith's first game as head coach for the Razorbacks.
Smith took over for Bobby Petrino, who was fired in the offseason following a scandal involving a former Arkansas women's volleyball player who was hired by Petrino. Smith was an assistant for three seasons under Petrino.
Wilson completed 19-of-27 passes and Chris Gragg caught seven passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
"I think he handled the offense well. One negative is he dropped one ball early but that happens from time to time. I thought Tyler did a great job spreading the ball around on the offense. It was good to see him in command like he was," Smith said.
Knile Davis ran the ball 18 times for 70 yards and a touchdown in his first game for the Razorbacks (1-0) since 2010, when he led all SEC running backs with 1,322 yards rushing.
Davis missed the entire 2011 season after breaking his left ankle in the preseason.
Marques Ivory was 14-for-28 through the air for 160 yards and two touchdowns and Alan Bonner hauled in eight balls for 107 yards and a touchdown for the Gamecock (0-1), who finished 7-4 in 2011.
"The biggest part of this game was the four or five mismatches they created," Jacksonville State coach Jack Crowe said. "They're as talented as you're ever going to find."
After Wilson fumbled as he was sacked on the Razorbacks' opening possession, Bryan Jones blocked Griffin Thomas' 37-yard field goal attempt to get the ball back.
Wilson and Davis then methodically led Arkansas down the field before Kody Walker punched it in from one yard out to cap an 11-play, 80-yard drive.
But the Gamecock answered back on their ensuing possession when Ivory connected with Troymaine Pope for a 19-yard touchdown. DaMarcus James picked up the first down on 3rd-and-1, but Ivory was sacked for a 10-yard loss on the next play before finding Pope for the score.
After the Razorbacks coughed it up for a second time ,the Gamecock needed just four plays to find the end zone as Bonner gave Jacksonville State the lead with a 4-yard plunge.
Arkansas countered with a touchdown of its own when Wilson found Gragg all alone for a 30-yard touchdown pass to knot things up at 14-14. Johnson returned the kickoff 42 yards after breaking a series of tackles to give the Razorbacks solid field position before Wilson's strike to Gragg.
The Razorbacks then forced a three-and-out before Wilson hooked up with Gragg in the end zone once again to take a 21-14 lead.
Wilson found Brandon Mitchell down the middle for a 34-yard reception to get inside the Jacksonville State five and Ronnie Wingo crossed the goal line with a 3-yard plunge as Arkansas extended its spread to 28-14 with just over five minutes to play in the second quarter.
Davis' 5-yard touchdown scamper with 2:01 left in the first half put the Razorbacks up 34-14. Wilson found Mitchell down the left side for a 37-yard reception and Davis used three rushes to find the end zone.
Jacksonville State was able to add a touchdown in the waning seconds of the first half to cut it to 35-21. Ivory was flushed out of the pocket and delivered a 10-yard strike to Bonner in the end zone. Ivory was 4-for-6 passing on the 10-play, 75-yard drive.
Thomas nailed a 49-yarder at the 9:44 mark in the third quarter to cut it to 35-24.
Arkansas would score on its next two possessions to stretch it to 49-24. Wilson found Javontee Herndon for a 63-yard touchdown and Dennis Johnson's 9- yard scamper capped a three-play, 49-yard drive.
Saturday's matchup marks the first-ever meeting between these two programs ... Arkansas is the only school in the SEC to return a quarterback with a 3,000- yard passing season (Wilson) and a running back with a 1,000-rushing season (Davis) ... The Razorbacks have won 17 of its last 20 season openers ... Jacksonville State head coach Jack Crowe is in his 13th season. He has a career record of 81-53 for the Gamecock.