Cat Scratch Fever

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Felix Jones always steps up his game. Ask Gus Malzahn, his offensive coordinator.

"Fortunately we know what we're getting with Felix," Malzahn said.

Ask Darren McFadden, his Arkansas backfield teammate.

"Felix did a hell of a job," McFadden said. "He always does a hell of a job for us. That's what he comes out and does."

Ask his head coach, Houston Nutt.

"Felix Jones is a winner," Nutt said. "He's a great ball player and he showed that today."

Heck, even ask Jones himself.

"I just tried to come in and play the best that I could," Jones said. "That's what I always do."

Facing a Wisconsin team which had heard all the hype on Heisman Trophy runner-up McFadden, Arkansas turned to the lesser-known Jones during Monday's Capital One Bowl against the Badgers. And the move nearly paid off as the Razorbacks almost rode Jones to victory, only to come up just short in a 17-14 loss to Wisconsin in front of a crowd of 60,774 at the Citrus Bowl stadium.

With McFadden still nursing a high ankle sprain injury -- and the Doak Walker winner obviously not near 100 percent -- it was up to Arkansas' other speedster to get the offensive ball rolling.

And that's just what Jones did, racing 76 yards to paydirt on the Razorbacks' second drive of the game to momentarily give Arkansas a 7-3 lead with nine minutes, 19 seconds left in the first quarter.

"I always feel like I have to step up, even when Darren is 100 percent," Jones said. "I just want to go out there and have fun, that's basically it. We just try to go out there and do our best."

While Arkansas' offense as a whole didn't have its best day against the Badgers, struggling to find the end zone at key times, Jones wasn't the problem.

And with a career-high 150 yards rushing and two touchdowns -- he added a second TD early in the fourth quarter on a 12-yard scamper -- Jones did his best to be the solution.

"We just tried to come in and prove that we can play in the top 10 and that we should be a top 10 team," Jones said. "But it didn't turn out that way, so we've just got to come out next year and work even harder and get back after it."

Maybe it didn't work out. But at least Jones showed at least one more team that Arkansas is about much more than a guy named McFadden.

"I'm very happy with what we did this season," Jones said. "We missed out on some championships, but the championships are going to come. We've worked too hard just to go out here and play and lose games.

"We're just going to have to look back on this as a lesson learned. We'll just have to forget about it and move on, as we always do. Just keep our focus and go in with the right mindset in the offseason and then we can come back and do it again."

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