FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas was still looking for its first SEC win in two years last Saturday, but had a firm handle on its identity under coach Bret Bielema.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas was still looking for its first SEC win in two years last Saturday, but had a firm handle on its identity under coach Bret Bielema.


Arkansas was going to be a nightmare for opponents, running the ball behind its massive offensive line and standing strong with an improved defense. It was going to be a danger in the SEC West, capable of creating havoc in college football’s best division. They hadn’t enjoyed the breakthrough moment, but it wasn’t far off.


Then came the second quarter of Arkansas’ 45-32 loss to No. 10 Georgia.


"They’ve built a reputation off of a lot of things they’ve done this year," Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said he told his team Sunday. "And for about 10 minutes in the middle of the second quarter, you tried to take away from everything you’ve built."


Arkansas’ steady progress halted when Georgia (6-1, 4-1 in SEC) outscored the Razorbacks 31-0 in the second quarter and built a 38-6 halftime lead. Bielema’s team suffered through its worst first half of the season after an avalanche of mistakes, succumbing to an opponent many pundits had predicted would be the first to fall to the Razorbacks (3-4, 0-4) in conference play.


It has left the Hogs picking up the pieces as they prepares for Saturday’s game against Alabama-Birmingham (4-3, 2-2 in Conference-USA) in Razorback Stadium. Arkansas won’t get a chance to end its SEC slide for another week, but Bielema said it doesn’t matter. The Razorbacks need to restore what they nearly lost.


"I know this: Our guys will respect the game this weekend because they see it on film," Bielema said. "But more importantly, I think they respect themselves enough to know, you know, we’ve only got, obviously, five guaranteed opportunities left. And I don’t want that to be the end of it. I want to be able to go to a bonus game, and for us to get where we want to be, we need to start winning some games."


It’s no secret Arkansas can’t afford the same issues from last Saturday’s unraveling.


Ball security was the big problem for a team that had committed eight turnovers in its first six games. Running back Alex Collins fumbled a pitch deep in Arkansas territory, leading to a touchdown that gave Georgia a 31-6 lead. Brandon Allen fumbled on the next possession, resulting in Dominick Sanders’ 54-yard scoop-and-score to make it 38-6. Arkansas had a chance to get something positive late, but Allen threw an interception that wiped out — at the very least — a field goal attempt.


"We found out that ball is an incredibly important part of the game of football and we didn’t secure it the way we needed to on offense and it paid off for them," said Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney. "We need to work on that."


Said Bielema: "That’s 17 points in a quarter that you can’t spot. We lost by 13."


But the three second-quarter turnovers weren’t the only issue.


Arkansas also had its share of costly penalties. Cornerback Tevin Mitchel was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct after Arkansas made a third-down stop, giving Georgia a first down. Running back Nick Chubb broke off a 43-yard touchdown run two plays later to give the Bulldogs a 17-6 lead.


"We had them on a third-down stop," Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith said about Mitchel’s penalty. "We’ve just got to play smarter after that. This game’s a hard game. You can’t give anybody anything. Great teams take advantage of those and Georgia certainly did that. We’ve got to play clean."


Linebacker Braylon Mitchell was ejected on Georgia’s next series after receiving a targeting penalty for hitting quarterback Hutson Mason. Chubb scored on a 3-yard run the next play to push Georgia’s lead to 24-6.


On the ensuing kickoff, Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry earned a holding penalty that backed the Razorbacks up to the 10-yard line. Collins’ fumble came the next play and Georgia cashed in with Mason’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Michael Bennett.


"We can’t have that kind of stuff," Henry said Saturday night. "We have to be more disciplined than the other team to win a game."


Arkansas has suffered its share of big losses the past few years, but no one had topped the 30-point mark in a quarter in those games until Saturday.


USC scored 28 points in the first quarter of its 70-17 win in 2005, while Auburn equaled the number in the fourth quarter of a 65-43 victory in 2010. More recently, Texas A&M had a 20-point quarter in a 58-10 win in 2012. The most Alabama scored in a quarter during 52-0 victories in 2012 and 2013 was 17 points.


"We played really bad football for about a five or six-minute stretch in the second quarter that you can’t do against good teams because they will capitalize on it like no other," Bielema said. "And that’s exactly what Georgia did."


But Bielema believes his team restored some dignity with its second-half success.


Arkansas outscored Georgia 26-7 after its second-quarter struggles. It couldn’t cover up the fact Arkansas had demolished its hopes of earning the first SEC win under Bielema. Or that Arkansas had dented its growing reputation as a rapidly improving team in football’s most challenging division with the performance.


But Bielema insists it’s a sign Arkansas remains on track and will bounce back.


"That doesn’t happen if you have a team that is quitters or doesn’t have the desire to have success," he said. "So it’s another great indicator of why I know what’s coming."