Hogs 31, Vols 14

Darren McFadden rushes for 181 yards, runs for two scores and throws for another as No. 11 Arkansas downs No. 13 Tennessee 31-14 Saturday night before a Reynolds Razorback Stadium record crowd of 76,728 fans and claims at least a share of the SEC Western Division title.

The University of Arkansas probably won't be able to play that no respect card anymore.

Tailback/quarterback Darren McFadden rushed 30 times for 181 yards and two touchdowns, passed for another and also caught a pass and return kickoffs for good measure to lead the No. 11 Razorbacks to a 31-14 win over No. 13 Tennessee Saturday night before a Donald W. Reynolds Stadium record crowd of 76,728 fans.

"I love the heart of this team," Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt said. "The attitude of our seniors is great and our seniors deserve a lot of credit. Since week one we have hung in there and believed in each other. We never let up. It's a perfect way to go out (in the last Fayeteville home game)."

The win was the ninth straight for SEC leading Arkansas (9-1, 6-0), who claimed at least a share of the Western Division title and moved within a win of claiming a spot in the league's title game against SEC East Champ Florida.

"Our guys see things and see that we might be able to win an SEC title and are excited," Nutt said. "They know what's in front of them and they arer loving it. But we have to stay humble and take care of things one game and one play at a time."

It also – on a day when several teams ahead of them lost and the Razorbacks were playing their final game in Fayetteville this season – made quite a statement in terms of being a national championship contender.

The loss by No. 3 Louisville on Thursday and losses on Saturday by No. 4 Texas, No. 5 Auburn and No. 8 California should vault Arkansas near the top five in the BCS poll next week.

"Tonight was a total team effort," Nutt said. "Everybody did outstanding. It is always special to beat a physical team like Tennessee. They are scary team on film. We had good defense and earned every yard we gained. Our defense just keeps getting better. I love the intensity of this team."

It also no doubt gave McFadden a boost in his quest for the Heisman Trophy, considering ESPN's College GameDay TV and radio shows originated from Fayetteville on Saturday morning and afternoon respectively.

"Danny (Nutt) had this crazy idea of putting Darren at quarterback and (UA offensive coordinator) Gus (Malzahn) jumped all over it," Nutt said. "Now Darren wants to throw it all the time. It's a good package and we have the option of him to Felix (Jones), faking to Felix or running himself. The core of that package though is the offensive line. You have to give them credit. They do an outstanding job."

McFadden certainly impressed Tennnessee head coach Phil Fulmer.

"It's hard to simulate the speed of number five (McFadden)," Fulmer said. "He is the best back we have seen this year."

Arkansas starting quarterback Casey Dick was a very efficient 10-of-14 for 154 yards with Marcus Monk having another big receiving night with 8 catches for 139 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

"Monk is a fighter, a winner and a competitor," Nutt said. "We needed every catch and he made those key first downs for us tonight. Casey did an excellent job of managing the game."

The Razorbacks will now go to Mississippi State for a 1:30 p.m. non-televised game that could clinch the outright SEC Western Conference championship ahead of a Nov. 24 date in Little Rock with LSU.

The win coupled with Georgia's 37-15 rout of homestanding Auburn left the Razorbacks two games ahead of both groups of Tigers.

"With what happened in the Auburn game, we knew coming in that if won tonight we would have a cushion in the SEC," McFadden said. "So we had to go out and take care of business and we did."

Tennessee (7-3, 3-3) didn't get over 200 yards in total offense in total offense until its last two drives of the game on a night when Arkansas rolled up 426 yards total offense to the Volunteers' 268.

"They (the Razorbacks) are one of the best in the SEC," Fulmer said. "Florida, LSU and Arkansas are up there together."

Vols' starting quarterback Jonathon Crompton, filling in for the injured Erik Ainge, was just 16-of-36 for 172 yards and was sacked three times by Razorback defensive end Jamaal Anderson himself.

"We knew we might be able to rattle a new quaterback coming into a hostile environment with our defensive pressure," Anderson said. "I had a certain move that I thought would work and it worked once so I kept using it to get multiple sacks."

Fulmer said that is exactly what happened.

"He's a young guy," Fulmer said. "The environment would get to anybody. It's tough to ask him to come here and carry this team. Arkansas did a good job rushing him. It was a bit more (two-saftey zone) than we expected."

Arkansas didn't score on its opening possession of the game, but got pretty efficient after that point.

They covered 53 yards in eight plays on series number two which actually had three different quarterbacks on the drive with starter Casey Dick, back-up Mitch Mustain coming on for a few plays when Dick was banged up and McFadden taking a direct snap.

Dick return to cap the drive on a 3rd down-and-goal from the 10 with a fade pattern to Monk for the score and Jeremy Davis' PAT made it 7-0 with 6:15 left in the opening quarter.

Arkansas was back in the end zone on its fourth possession with Dick's 14-yard pass to Monk on third down keeping the six-play drive alive.

McFadden took over at quarterback for the jaunt's final three plays – a 7-yard QB draw, a handoff to Felix Jones that covered 29 yards and then McFadden racing untouched into the end zone for a score that coupled with Davis' PAT made it 14-0 with 12:36 left in the second quarter.

Tennessee then showed some fight by driving 80 yards in just 7 plays, a drive that culminated on Crompton's 27-yard pass to former Tulsa prep star Robert Meachum on a 3rd down-and-17 play.

James Wilhoit's PAT with 9:50 left before intermission cut it 14-7, but McFadden and Monk were just getting warmed up.

It was seven plays for 82 yards this time with Dick hitting Monk with a 33-yard pass and McFadden covered 19 on a pair of quarterback draws.

Tennessee - called a timeout to regroup – only to see McFadden fake another draw and then pulled up and hit Monk with a 12-yard touchdown pass.

"I was playing a little hurt, but we have talked all year about playing through pain and not letting your teammates down," Monk said.

Davis was true again and Arkansas surged ahead 21-7 with 6:51 left in the half.

It became 28-7 when McFadden scored from five yards to cap a 5-play, 64-yard drive on which the the big play his 37-yard dash.

"I don't think we answered the bell in the first half," Fulmer said. "We've been emotionally into the season all year long."

Arkansas looked to be putting the game away for sure early in the third quarter by taking the opening kickoff, but McFadden made his one mistake of the night when he fumbled after being hit at the Tennessee 2.

The Razorbacks did boost their lead to 31-7 just into the fourth quarter when Kevin Woods – starting in place of the injured Michael Grant – picked off a pass that eventually resulted in Davis' 29-yard field goal with 9:40 left in the game.

Tennessee did score again, a 39-yard pass from Crompton to Arkansas native Brett Smith of Warren in the final few minutes of the game.

Perhaps Smith best summed uo the contest.

"We lost...that is what is running through my head," Smith said. "The better team won tonight."

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