FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- - KJ Jefferson threw for 262 yards and a touchdown and ran for another 58 yards to help No. 25 Arkansas beat Missouri 34-17 on Friday.
Jefferson led Arkansas (8-4, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) to scores on four straight drives in the third and fourth quarters to turn a four-point halftime lead to 18 with less than 12 minutes left. Treylon Burks was his biggest help, catching seven passes for 129 yards and a touchdown.
Arkansas hadn't beaten Missouri since 2015, which was the last time the Razorbacks were eligible for a bowl. The eight wins are Arkansas' most in the regular-season since 2011. In coach Sam Pittman's first year, last year, Arkansas was coming off back-to-back 2-10 seasons, the worst two seasons in modern school history.
"I know it's 8-4 and the world may look at 8-4 as 8-4, but it's not here at Arkansas. It's different. We haven't been relevant for a while. For us to do that, to those kids in that locker room, that's a big, big deal," Pittman said.
Missouri (6-6, 3-5), which finished the regular season at .500 for the third straight year, managed just 316 yards of total offense, 219 of which came from running back Tyler Badie on the ground. Badie scored Missouri's only touchdown with 1:25 left. The Tigers were largely beaten by the big play, which their offense never achieved. Arkansas averaged 8 yards per play to Missouri's 4.2.
On back-to-back drives in the third quarter Jefferson found wide receiver De'Vion Warren for a 55-yard gain to set up the first touchdown of the half, then he connected with Burks over the top for a 52-yard score that broke open the game. Burks capped what could be his final game at Arkansas - he is a projected first- or second-round NFL pick - with an option-pitch to Rocket Sanders for the game's final score.
"He's a bad man," Pittman said. "He can do almost anything. He can catch the ball. Running better routes. He can block. ... That option, wasn't that beautiful?"
Missouri stiffened in the red zone on the third straight Arkansas scoring drive in the fourth quarter, holding the Razorbacks to a field goal. But Connor Bazelak's pass was intercepted on the next play before Warren's 32-yard end-around immediately put Arkansas back inside the 20. Sanders' 7-yard touchdown run capped the scoring.
Bazelak finished 10 of 26 for 65 yards. Badie had 41 carries. He passed Devin West for Missouri's single-season rushing record, finishing with 1,604 yards.
Sanders ran for 21 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries for Arkansas. Trelon Smith had the other score and ran for 37 yards on seven carries.
Arkansas plays for three trophies during the regular season in Texas A&M, LSU and Missouri. Against the three combined in the previous five seasons, the Razorbacks were 0-15 in those trophy games. They were 3-0 this year.
"We don't have a guy on our team that won any of them. Ever. Not one," Pittman said. "To have those three trophies in there is big. It's a great tribute to those kids and to my assistant coaches."
Burks hauled in a 43-yard pass on Arkansas' first touchdown drive to put the Razorbacks inside the Missouri 10. The catch put him over the 1,000-yard mark for the season and made him only the fourth player in school history to reach the threshold.
Arkansas' most successful season in a decade is complete just two seasons removed from the worst two seasons in school history.
Missouri continued to tread water in the SEC, despite the East Division's downward trend.
Arkansas: Will play in a bowl for the first time since 2016.
Missouri: Likely bowl-bound for the first time since 2018, though the Tigers' aren't guaranteed.