Strike A Heisman Pose For McFadden

FAYETTEVILLE — Darren McFadden couldn't help himself. Sure, he had promised Arkansas coach Houston Nutt that he wouldn't do it again. But the sophomore was near the sideline, so he didn't think there would be anything wrong with flexing his muscles.

Besides, it's hard to blame him. After all, he showed his pure strength in other ways by running over, around and past No. 13 Tennessee in Saturday's 31-14 win in front of a Reynolds Razorback Stadium-record crowd of 76,728. "He's the best running back I've seen since I've been here," Tennessee linebacker Ryan Karl said. "The key to their whole scheme is having No. 5 back there. He's their whole offense. "If he wasn't back there, it would be a different game." But McFadden was back there, lining up at quarterback, accounting for three of Arkansas' touchdowns in the first half and making another case in front of a national TV audience that he should be considered for the Heisman Trophy. McFadden rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns as No. 11 Arkansas (9-1, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) built a 28-7 lead in the first half, and the Little Rock native gained another 53 yards in the second to finish with 181 yards on 30 carries. As if that weren't enough, the 6-foot-2, 212-pound sophomore showed the type of versatility that Heisman voters love to see by throwing his second touchdown pass of the season, a 12-yard strike to wide receiver Marcus Monk. "It's just real fun," McFadden said, "because it boosts your confidence when you go out there and beat a team as good as Tennessee." McFadden's dominant performance also boosted the Razorbacks' chances of winning the SEC West, as well as improving their standing in the national championship race. Before Saturday night's game, Arkansas' players gathered to watch Georgia upset No. 5 Auburn 37-15 on TV. But the Razorbacks showed little reaction, even though Auburn's loss meant that the Hogs clinched at least a share of the SEC West. "We knew we had to do it on our own," said Monk, who caught eight passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns. "We weren't going to depend on anybody else beating them." Arkansas entered Saturday with an outside shot of making the Bowl Championship Series title game, but its chances improved greatly with the losses this week of No. 3 Louisville, No. 4 Texas, No. 5 Auburn and No. 8 California. While flattering, clinching a share of the SEC West didn't mean much to the Razorbacks, who have overcome a season-opening loss to Southern California to creep into the national championship picture. "You've just got to take care of business," Arkansas offensive guard Stephen Parker said. "We've got goals even above the SEC championship, hopefully, so we've got to win every game." It doesn't hurt to have McFadden, either. Last Saturday, the sophomore rushed for a career-high 219 yards and two touchdowns in a critical 26-20 win at South Carolina. He almost topped himself against Tennessee. The Volunteers had no answer for slowing down McFadden while he lined up at quarterback more than in perhaps any other game this season. He recorded his third straight 100-yard game of the season early in the first half and kept going, scoring touchdowns of 17 and 5 yards. "The offensive line came up there, they opened holes left and right," McFadden said. "So I was just hitting them." It was McFadden's night, and fans inside Reynolds Razorbacks Stadium held up signs touting the sophomore for the Heisman Trophy. A few more games like Saturday and there won't be too much lobbying needed. "He runs a 4.3 (40-yard dash), and he plays like he weighs about 250 (pounds), running over people," Parker said. "He's got kind of the same mentality as us, offensive linemen, have. He's going to run people over, he's physical and he won't be denied."

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