- Associated Press - Sunday, September 20, 2015

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Bret Bielema’s promise of winning the Southeastern Conference when he arrived at Arkansas has never seemed so far-fetched.

And a Razorbacks team that appeared to have righted itself late last season again finds itself in a downward spiral - with seemingly no end in sight.

Arkansas (1-2) lost its second straight game Saturday night, a 35-24 setback to Texas Tech that was as disheartening as any of the many losses in recent years.

It’s a long and growing list that includes smaller schools such as Louisiana-Monroe in 2012 and Toledo a week ago. None of the losses, however, was as potentially damaging to Bielema’s long-term prospects with the Razorbacks as this latest one.

“I wish I could say something to make everybody feel a little bit better, our fans, our players,” Bielema said. “We’re just at the point yet where we cannot play a perfect game and win.”

Arkansas did gain 424 yards of total offense, led by 170 yards rushing by running back Alex Collins. But the Razorbacks were unable slow an up-tempo Texas Tech offense that ran up 486 yards and was fueled by quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ three touchdowns.

It was enough to bring back memories of a combined seven wins during the 2012-13 seasons for Arkansas, as well as a year ago when the Razorbacks finally ended to a school-worst 17-game SEC losing streak and won three of four games to finish 7-6.

“We don’t want to slip back to where we were two years ago, or even a year ago,” Arkansas cornerback D.J. Dean said. “We want to move on from that, and that’s what we’re going to do next week.”

Making Arkansas’ regression more visible was the national attention the game received afterward when Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury called out Bielema for what he said were disparaging comments about spread offenses to Texas high school coaches last summer.

Kingsbury said Bielema’s team was beaten badly for the second straight game, and “probably next week by (Texas) A&M; as well.”

The game Kingsbury referenced against the Aggies in Cowboys Stadium will be the SEC opener for the Razorbacks, who have gone from ranked 18th to open the season to now just hoping to reach their second straight bowl game.

Texas A&M; is the first of three straight road SEC games for Arkansas, which follows with trips to Tennessee and Alabama.

It’s a stretch that’s gone from hopeful to daunting for the Razorbacks, who lost their third top wide receiver in the last week when sophomore Jared Cornelius broke his left arm in the first half on Saturday.

Despite the setbacks, Bielema is confident a more balanced offense - with quarterback Brandon Allen averaging 305 yards passing per game - will help Arkansas bounce back.

“We are 1-2 right now, but I think going into SEC play we are probably more prepared than we have been,” Bielema said.

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AP college football website: https://collegefootball.ap.org


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