FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Ryan Mallett threw for a school-record five touchdown passes and even ran for one on Saturday. It looks better when he throws.
The Arkansas quarterback led a 58-21 win over Texas-El Paso, earning the Razorbacks (No. 15 BCS, No. 14 AP) their fourth straight victory. Mallett also ran for 18 of Arkansas’ season-best 326 yards on the ground, including a 14-yard touchdown scramble in the first quarter that saw the 6-foot-6 quarterback leap less-than-gracefully into the end zone.
“I was going to dive in [the end zone] and the guy moved,” Mallet said, smiling. “I had to kind of stop midair.”
The junior tied the single-game touchdown mark for the fourth time in his less than two seasons as the Arkansas quarterback after transferring from Michigan. In what could be his final home game at Razorback Stadium, if he leaves for the NFL after this season, Mallett also tied the school mark for total touchdowns in a game with six. Madre Hill set the mark in 1995 against South Carolina.
“I don’t know,” Mallett said when asked whether he’ll turn pro next year. “I haven’t made up my mind. It will be a big decision.”
Mallett finished 19 of 26 passing for 215 yards and has now set or tied 35 school or stadium records at Arkansas.
“He was really good out there,” Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee said. “He’s practiced well the last couple of weeks, and he was under control tonight.”
Knile Davis spearheaded the Razorbacks’ rushing attack with 182 yards on just 11 carries, including a 70-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Davis now has 550 yards and nine rushing touchdowns in his last four games. The Razorbacks (8-2, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) finished with a season-high 577 total yards.
“Knile did a nice job hitting his paths hard and making the first guy miss,” Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. “He had a lot of yards after contact. He’s improved a lot this year.
“Now you think that every time he touches it, he can go all the way.”
The Miners (6-5, 3-4 Conference USA) took a 14-7 lead in the first quarter after Marlon McClure’s 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The Razorbacks then took control, scoring 45 unanswered points to take a 52-14 lead.
Davis started the onslaught with his long touchdown run. The sophomore faked a reverse to receiver Cobi Hamilton before keeping the ball and darting around the right side of the Arkansas offensive line.
Mallett followed with five straight touchdown throws for the Razorbacks, two to tight end D.J. Williams. The quarterback now has 24 touchdown passes this season and 54 in his Arkansas career, moving him ahead of Matt Jones and into second place in Arkansas history. Clint Stoerner holds the school record with 57 career touchdown passes.
Mallett tied Jones on his second touchdown pass of the game to Williams in the third quarter, and he moved ahead of him and tied Hill’s mark with his 5-yard touchdown pass to Chris Gragg in the third quarter that put the Razorbacks up 49-14.
Leilyon Myers put UTEP ahead 7-0 in the first quarter, breaking through the middle of the Arkansas defense for a 51-yard touchdown run. The Miners gained 355 yards in the loss but were plagued by three turnovers.
Kris Adams finished with five catches for 148 yards and a touchdown for the Miners. He has now caught a pass in 35 consecutive games.
“We had a tough time stopping them,” UTEP coach Mike Price said. “I love Mallett. I think he’s a great player. I think he’s one of the top quarterbacks in the country.”
• Arkansas improved to 8-2 on the season, its best 10-game record since 2006, when the Razorbacks started 9-1 and won the SEC West.
• Ryan Mallett had his second career game with five TDs and no interceptions.
• UTEP is 1-7 all-time vs. current SEC teams and 4-47 all-time against ranked teams in the AP Top 25.
• Knile Davis ran for a career-high 182 yards on 11 carries. It’s his third 100-yard game in his last four outings.
– ESPN Stats & Information