His words oozed with raw emotion, stemming from No. 2 Auburn's 27-10 defeat to Arkansas. Had he deliberated a bit longer, Irons may have altered his declaration. But mere minutes after the Tigers' Heisman Trophy candidate rushed for 70 yards less than Arkansas' Darren McFadden, two years his younger, Irons remained adamant.
"No, he didn't prove anything out there," Irons said. "I mean, he's a running back, and he ran the ball. That's what we do. That's it. But he didn't prove anything."
The 87,451 fans that packed Jordan Hare Stadium on Saturday may have disagreed. So may have those watching around the country on CBS.
Arkansas coach Houston Nutt put up an unintended argument in McFadden's favor after watching his sophomore running back torch the Tigers for 145 yards on 28 carries.
"We think Darren's one of the better running backs in the country," Nutt said. "His timing and footwork was outstanding. He's hitting the hole with great acceleration. And then, once he gets in the secondary, he's always got a real chance to go the distance. He's exciting."
McFadden flashed a mix of strength, elusiveness and speed in piling up 145 yards on 28 carries. Running at full strength for the first time this season — "I think he's 100 percent," Nutt said — McFadden blazed 63 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
He also gained tough yards by fighting after the first contact he received from Auburn's defenders.
McFadden was the focal point for a dominant Razorbacks running attack that started with him but didn't end with him. Sophomore Felix Jones topped the 100-yard mark, averaging eight yards on 13 carries, and both backs found ample space to run behind a physically imposing offensive line.
Down after down, the Hogs seemed to manhandle Auburn's defensive front. In the second half, Arkansas ran 30 times and passed just twice.
"We got beat at our own brand of football," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We knew starting the week that we had to stop the run and be able to run it. We didn't do either one."
Arkansas' defensive linemen had plenty to do with Tuberville's latter gripe. Disregarding a 23-yard run by Irons and a 19-yard scamper by Brad Lester, Auburn's running backs averaged just 3.5 yards on 18 carries.
Irons came into Saturday's contest having topped the 100-yard mark in 10 of his last 14 games.
But where he failed, Arkansas succeeded. Twice.
"They have a great defense and, at times, they knew we were going to have to run the football," Arkansas offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said. "But we did anyway, and we were able to successfully do that. It just says a lot about our offensive line and our backs."
McFadden Helps Arkansas Run Away From Auburn
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