Turns out, running back Darren McFadden is healthy again and his Heisman Trophy chances have new life.
On a play that has been mostly missing from his highlight reel this season, McFadden took a handoff from Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick and raced 80 yards untouched for the final score Saturday night.
With the run, McFadden put the final touch on a 48-36 win over No. 23 South Carolina and gave the crowd of 70,742 in Reynolds Razorback Stadium one last glimpse at Arkansas' impressive offensive explosion.
And of course, the junior -- perhaps playing in his final game in Fayetteville -- couldn't resist flexing his biceps for a national TV audience.
"I don't think anybody touched him. I don't think he had to cut back on anybody. I don't think he had to side-step anybody," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. "I think he just ran around the end and never slowed down."
Fellow Arkansas running back Felix Jones had his own chances to celebrate on a night when the Hogs jumped out to a 21-3 lead and gained 541 yards rushing and 650 yards of total offense.
Who said the Razorbacks (6-3, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) need a balanced offense? Especially when McFadden set an SEC record with 323 yards rushing and Jones added 163 and three touchdowns.
Arkansas had only 109 yards passing.
"When you know we're going to run the ball and they still can't stop us, that's an awesome offense," Arkansas offensive guard Robert Felton said. "I'm speechless. I'm lost for words talking about our performance tonight."
The major knock against Arkansas in its three close losses to Alabama, Kentucky and Auburn was its inability to put teams away down the stretch. That wasn't a problem Saturday night.
The Razorbacks avoided another late collapse and instead turned to McFadden, Jones and a few trick plays to keep the offense moving and the pressure on the Gamecocks (6-4, 3-4), losers of three in a row.
In contrast, Arkansas extended its seasonlong winning streak to three games by beating its first ranked opponent this season. The Razorbacks also became bowl eligible with their sixth win.
McFadden, considered the Heisman Trophy preseason favorite, had been bothered over the first half of the season with a slight concussion and bruised ribs. He confessed early last week that his ribs hurt more than he was letting on.
But as Spurrier can now attest, McFadden is back. So are his Heisman hopes.
"I was on the ball, and I took this game to heart and gave it my all," McFadden said. "I felt that by the fourth quarter we were able to get our game together and finish it to the best of our capabilities."
Jones got Arkansas' offense going early on, breaking off touchdown runs of 40 yards and 72 yards to help the Razorbacks jump out to a 21-3 lead with 2 minutes and 52 seconds left in the first quarter.
"Felix is just beautiful to watch," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said.
McFadden didn't look bad himself.
His 323 yards rushing on 35 carries broke the previous SEC record of 321 yards set by Vanderbilt's Frank Mordica against Air Force in 1978.
McFadden also completed a 23-yard touchdown pass after he recovered his own fumble and lobbed a pass to wide receiver Robert Johnson in the end zone, extending UA's lead to 35-20 at 5:13 in the third quarter.
Last Saturday, South Carolina rallied from a 21-0 halftime deficit to force overtime against Tennessee. The Volunteers ended up winning 27-24 on a field goal.
For the second consecutive week, Spurrier watched his players make a second-half rally, but they couldn't get any closer than 42-36 midway through the fourth quarter.
Arkansas' offense was too much, and the Razorbacks even managed to outfox the Ol' Ball Coach.
Spurrier is known for his trickery. But the Razorbacks got the best of him midway through the second quarter when they broke out a play that had been hidden in offensive coordinator David Lee's playbook.
McFadden took the direct snap out of the WildHog formation and handed it off to Jones, who immediately pitched it to quarterback Casey Dick.
Dick, who had been lined up at receiver, lobbed the football 35 yards to a wide-open Lucas Miller for a touchdown that extended UA's lead to 28-10 with 6:52 left in the first half.
The trick play was part of an offensive explosion by the Razorbacks, who outgained the Gamecocks 378-221 in the first half.
Arkansas, which entered Saturday leading the SEC in rushing offense at 287.6 yards per game, recorded 292 yards on the ground before halftime.
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