When Arkansas faced Missouri State four years ago, the Razorbacks rushed for nearly 500 yards.
Oh, how times have changed.
Ryan Mallett and Tyler Wilson threw for 447 combined yards, setting a school record and helping the Hogs to a 48-10 win over Missouri State on Saturday night. Arkansas had never passed for over 400 yards in a game, but the Razorbacks surpassed that number with ease in their 2009 opener.
"It's neat," Mallett said of the record. "I hope we try to break it every week."
Mallett, who sat out last season after transferring from Michigan, went 17 for 22 for 309 yards and a touchdown, and Wilson threw for 138 yards and two TDs in relief. Petrino let both quarterbacks throw. Arkansas' Michael Smith, who rushed for over 1,000 yards last year, carried only four times for 43 yards and a touchdown.
"I was happy with the way our offensive passing game executed," Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. "Protection, the timing, the ball coming out of the hand."
The game was another step forward for Petrino, who has revitalized the Arkansas passing game after the Razorbacks relied on the run under coach Houston Nutt. Arkansas rushed for 483 yards in a 49-17 win over Missouri State in 2005. The score was similar this time around, but the Razorbacks' offense looked much different.
In fact, the only question was whether Arkansas ran the ball well enough.
"At one point I told the guys in the booth, 'I feel like I am calling a pass every first down,'" Petrino said. "Usually it is about 50 percent pass and 50 percent run on first-and-10."
Wilson finished 13 of 19 with an interception. He and Mallett nearly combined to break the school record of 31 completions, set in 1971.
Coming off a 5-7 season, the Razorbacks (1-0) are expecting a big improvement in Petrino's second year as their coach. They were in control throughout the game against Missouri State (0-1). Dennis Johnson took the opening kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown to give Arkansas the lead 18 seconds into the game.
"That kickoff return was demoralizing," Missouri State cornerback Cedric Alvis said. "College football is all about momentum and we started out without momentum."
The quick start was quite an omen for the Hogs, who fumbled away the first kickoff of last season.
Jarius Wright was open all over the field for the Razorbacks and finished with six catches for 139 yards. His 58-yard reception from Mallett set up Broderick Green's 1-yard scoring run that made it 21-3. Green, a transfer from Southern California, carried several times in short-yardage situations with mixed results. In the second quarter, Arkansas had first-and-goal from the 5 before Green was stopped on three straight runs. Wilson had to throw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Van Stumon on fourth down to make it 28-3.
In the final minute of the half, another drive stalled near the goal line and Arkansas' Alex Tejada kicked a 20-yard field goal.
Cody Kirby, who played his high school football in northwest Arkansas, went 12 of 20 for 107 yards with two interceptions for the Bears. Missouri State scored its only touchdown in the second quarter after the Razorbacks were called for pass interference on fourth down. Jonathan Davis' 2-yard scoring run made it 28-10.
Joe Adams took a short pass from Mallett and broke down the right sideline for a 40-yard touchdown in the third quarter, and Wilson added a 1-yard touchdown pass to Cobi Hamilton in the fourth.
Freshman Ronnie Wingo Jr. led the Razorbacks with 50 yards rushing.
Petrino said Arkansas wide receiver London Crawford would be X-rayed Sunday and could be out a while after injuring his shoulder.