FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas was confident its punishing ground game would produce against Northern Illinois, but knew it needed contributions in other areas against an opponent that had won 17-straight road games.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas was confident its punishing ground game would produce against Northern Illinois, but knew it needed contributions in other areas against an opponent that had won 17-straight road games.


Arkansas’ passing attack, defense and special teams made sure it happened.


The Razorbacks got production in every phase during its 52-14 win against in front of an announced crowd of 67,204 in Razorback Stadium. Arkansas scored offensive, defensive and special teams touchdowns in the opening minutes to take a quick lead and it was enough to roll to another impressive nonconference win.


The victory was Arkansas’ third straight and snapped NIU’s NCAA road win streak, which dated back to 2011. It also broke up the Huskies’ 27-game win streak in regular season games, a streak that stretched back to the 2012 season opener.


"They came out and hit on all cylinders," Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said. "In the first quarter we scored in all three phases. Any time you can say that, that says a lot."


Especially since Arkansas (3-1) was facing an NIU (3-1) team that had outscored opponents 55-5 in the first half.


But running back Korliss Marshall set the tone of the night right away, returning the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. The explosive sophomore — who was limited to five rushing attempts last week — was never touched on the big play, following blockers on his way to the end zone.


It was Arkansas’ first kick return touchdown since 2011, when former Razorback Dennis Johnson returned one 98 yards against South Carolina. It also was Arkansas’ first opening kickoff returned for a touchdown since 2009.


"The hole just opened up," Marshall said. "I just told myself I have to score. Anybody who got the ball couldn’t scored on that play. The kickoff return team did an excellent job executing their blocks, staying latched onto their blocks and doing exactly what the coaches asked them to do. I just executed and finished it out."


Arkansas’ defense got involved a few minutes later. Defensive end Trey Flowers hit NIU quarterback Drew Hare while he tried to escape pressure from defensive tackle Darius Philon, jarring the football loose. Philon scooped up the ball and returned it 14 yards for a touchdown to give Arkansas a 14-0 lead.


"I dropped back and was trying to make a play and should have had two hands on the ball and I didn’t," Hare said. "It was bad ball security and that’s unacceptable."


The defensive score was Arkansas’ first since Tevin Mitchel’s interception return for a touchdown at Rutgers last year. Alonzo Highsmith was the last Razorback to return a fumble for a touchdown, accomplishing it against LSU in 2011.


It also was the first time Philon could remember scoring a touchdown in his career.


"I remember the time we ran a fake field goal and I caught a two-point conversion," Philon said.


But Arkansas still wasn’t done jumping on NIU. The Razorbacks started slow offensively, but pushed the lead to 21-0 in the first quarter after finally got involved. Arkansas capped a 12-play, 69-yard drive with running back Jonathan Williams’ 15-yard touchdown run, his seventh of the season.


The game never was in doubt after the productive start.


NIU did close to within 21-7 when it scored for the first time on Hare’s 11-yard touchdown pass to receiver Aregero Turner. But Arkansas made sure it had a comfortable cushion thanks to its next drive which went for 71 yards in 10 plays.


Quarterback Brandon Allen led the way, completing 6 of 7 passes for 58 yards on the drive. It included a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jared Cornelius with 49 seconds left. Allen rolled right on the play to avoid pressure, kept his eyes downfield and threw a strike to the freshman to give the Razorbacks a 28-7 lead.


"I think we might have had Keon (Hatcher) open, too," Allen said about the play. "I didn’t want to throw it across my body. Kept extending the play and (Cornelius) did a good job of getting free in the back of the end zone and making a play."


Said Bielema: "To me, two weeks in a row, almost by what we did to end the half really put the game out of reach."


So balance became was the theme of the night for the Razorbacks, who were coming off back-to-back 400-yard rushing efforts against Nicholls State and Texas Tech. Arkansas couldn’t come close to that rushing total Saturday, but still collected 427 yards thanks to contributions on the ground (212 yards) and through the air (215).


Allen went 15-for-22 for 199 yards with two touchdown passes, including a 44-yard strike to Hatcher in the fourth quarter that made it 45-14. It was his highest passing total since throwing for 193 yards at Ole Miss last season.


"How about that passing game?" Bielema said. "I know we’ve got some doubters out there. … The guys knew we were going to open up in the passing game."


Backup Austin Allen came on the field for the final drive and pushed the Razorbacks over the 200-yard mark with a 16-yard completion to tight end Jeremy Sprinkle. It was Arkansas’ first 200-yard passing effort since last year’s loss to Texas A&M and just the third time in 16 games under Bielema.


"I think we always expect to be really balanced, especially when you play tough competition," Allen said. "You’re not going to be able to run over every team. That balance is going to help us win a lot of games."


Marshall capped the scoring with his second touchdown, sprinting 27 yards late in the fourth quarter. The sophomore finished with 40 rushing yards on six carries.


Alex Collins (79 yards) and Williams (69) couldn’t collect their third straight 100-yard performances against an NIU defense that had surrendered just 81 rushing yards a game. But Arkansas didn’t need another massive effort from the duo to still outgain NIU 427-303.


Arkansas has outscored its past three opponents 174-49.


"We’ve had a lot of fun these past couple games," Marshall said. "It’s a good feeling. It’s been awhile since we’ve gotten a couple wins like this. And you know, we’re hoping to keep things like this going. I’ve never seen our team so riled up and so happy. Everybody still has that adrenaline, but it’s that adrenaline times two now."


The confident group now will prepare for another big test when it steps back into SEC play next Saturday. The Razorbacks will play Texas A&M — which improved to 4-0 with a win against SMU on Saturday — in Cowboys Stadium.


Arkansas snapped its 10-game losing streak against Nicholls State two weeks ago, then broke an eight-game road slide at Texas Tech last Saturday. Now it will have a chance to snap its 13-game SEC losing streak.


"I think the guys are confident," Bielema said. "By no means have they arrived in any way, shape or form. But I think they have a certain mentality and an attitude that has not been here since I’ve been here and it’s getting better and better every day."