LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Arkansas coach Houston Nutt had hoped that fullback Peyton Hillis would be healthy enough to play in the Capital One Bowl.
But after several weeks of rest and a series of intense forms of treatment, Hillis' injured thigh hasn't appeared to improve much.
As a result, Nutt said Wednesday that the junior would not play when No. 12 Arkansas (10-3) faces No. 6 Wisconsin (11-1) on Jan. 1. It will be the fourth straight game that Hillis has missed because of a severe deep thigh bruise that has caused him to limp when he walks.
"He gave it a good try, but he just can't do it," Nutt said. "I hate it. The passing game, everything has gone downhill a little bit since he got hurt."
Though he tried to stay optimistic, Nutt admits he had serious doubts about whether Hillis would be ready in time for the bowl game.
Aside from taking part in some individual drills, Hillis hasn't been able to practice for an extended period of time over the last few weeks. Nutt said the fullback has a buildup of calcium in his leg that has prevented him from having a full range of motion.
"It's almost like a hard bone you can't stretch," Nutt said.
Hillis is Arkansas' second leading receiver with 19 catches for 159 yards, and before he got hurt, the Conway native was one of the primary blockers for running back Darren McFadden.
Nutt said junior Farod Jackson, sophomore Mitch Petrus and freshman Ben Cleveland will continue to work at fullback, as they have done since Hillis injured his thigh in a 31-14 win over Tennessee on Nov. 11.
Dacus Dealing With Flu
Arkansas starting middle linebacker Weston Dacus has been bothered over the last few days with a stomach flu that has made it tough for him to eat.
Nutt said Dacus and maybe one other player have been affected by the flu, but it doesn't appear to be something that has spread throughout the team.
"I don't think it spreading right now. I think I've pretty much knocked it out. I just haven't been able to eat," said Dacus, who missed Wednesday morning's practice. "I've been real weak."
Dacus said he was able to hold down some mash potatoes that he ate Tuesday night, which he admits was his first meal since Saturday.
"We went to a steak house, and all I could eat was mash potatoes," said Dacus, who ranks third on the Razorbacks with 91 tackles this season.
Freshman Wendel Davis is listed as Dacus' backup at middle linebacker, but the junior is expected to return to practice today and be ready for Monday's game.
Nutt said McFadden is "running well" despite still not being at full strength because of an ankle and Achilles tendon injury suffered in the first half of the Southeastern Conference Championship Game on Dec. 2.
"He's not 100 percent," Nutt said, estimating that McFadden is close to around 90 percent healthy.
Meanwhile, tight end Mason Templeton missed Wednesday's practice because a bruised kidney.
Wisconsin Edges Arkansas In First Contest
It appears Wisconsin is up 1-0 on Arkansas.
Arkansas wide receiver Reggie Fish and cornerback Jerell Norton faced Wisconsin defensive back Roderick Rogers and running back Lance Smith in a game of NCAA 07 Football for Xbox on Wednesday afternoon.
The two teams played each other during an event dubbed the Bowl-a-Palooza Challenge. Despite rallying from a 14-0 deficit, the Razorbacks lost 36-33 in a game that lasted only one half.
It seems unlikely that the Capital One Bowl will resemble what Arkansas and Wisconsin did on Xbox — the two teams combined for 534 yards passing and nine touchdowns.
A Shout-Out For Broyles
When J.T. Curtis was named USA Today's high school coach of the year, he gave some praise to former Arkansas coach and current athletic director Frank Broyles.
In a questionnaire printed in Wednesday's edition of USA Today, Curtis — who led John Curtis (La.) Christian School to a third straight state championship this season — was asked to name his favorite college coach.
Curtis picked Broyles, who retired from coaching following the 1976 season.
"He introduced strength and conditioning instruction in the 1960s, putting him ahead of his time," Curtis told USA Today.
Injured Hillis Will Not Play
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