No. 1 LSU should have gotten plenty worried once it got to overtime - especially the third overtime.
Darren McFadden rushed 32 times for 205 yards and three touchdowns and threw for another to Peyton Hillis - who had three scores of his own - as Arkansas outlasted LSU 50-48 Friday afternoon before 92,000-plus in Baton Rouge.
Matteral Richadson intercepted a two-point conversion pass in the end zone to end the game and set off a wild celebration with the Razorback players, coaches and fans on hand in a stadium dubbed Death Valley.
"I have never been prouder of 70 guys, a coaching staff, trainers, managers - it took all of them," Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt said. "They showed such heart and such character and just played their guts out. To win a game like that in overtime - one more time - ia just awesome. It is the greatest feeling in the world to be in this locker room and see these guys and watch them celebrate."
LSU (10-2, 6-2) lost its second game of the season - both in triple overtime - after tying it 28-28 late in the fourth quarter and had not allowed a player to rush over 100 yards this season before Saturday.
McFadden went for 205, Hillis 88 and Jones 86 as Arkansas rushed for 384 yards on a defense just giving up 75 a game and gained 501 yards total offense.
"He's a Heisman Trophy guy," Nutt said of McFadden. The guy deserves the trophy. It's not right for his name not to be mentioned as No. 1 right now. He blocks; he catches; he quarterbacks; he throws; he reads; he runs the football with passion and determination, and he really deserves a serious look."
McFadden said he would just let his numbers speak for himself and wanted to talk more about his team's win than himself.
"We came down here with a hungry mindset to play the number one team in the country and we knew there was going to be a lot of hype," McFadden said. "We wanted to go down here and upset the number one team in the country and that's just what we did today.
"There was no use in coming down here to play unless we came down here to win," McFadden added. "We didn't want to waste our trip down here. Might as well have forfeited the game if we just came down here to play. We came to play ball and win."
Arkansas (8-4, 4-4) is now 7-1 in overtime games all-time by taking this nearly five-hour contest and reclaiming The Boot in what is dubbed "The Battle for the Boot."
"We joked about it before we came to play," Arkansas linebacker Freddie Fairchild said. "We joked that it would take three or four guys to get it back on the plane. We are just looking forward to bringing the Boot back home to Arkansas."
Nutt felt good about his team going into overtime and told them so.
"I called them up and told them, not only is it familiar territory, but we win in overtime," Nutt said. "That's our nature. We are going to win in overtime...What an effort by offense, defense and special teams."
Nutt said he knew his team was ready to take its best shot at the top-ranked Tigers - the first No. 1 team the Razorback program has taken down on the road since the 1964 national championship team won at Texas.
"They wanted this opportunity and knew everyone in the country would be watching," Nutt said. "I just love them, love their heart and their persaverence. This game will go a long time...I don't know how long it lasted, but we were the best in the country today."
LSU head coach Les Miles is well aware of how big a game his team lost on Friday and how they must now regroup for next week's SEC Championship game against either Tennessee or Georgia.
"This team is not happy," Miles said. "We understand that this cost us and what was at stake. We now have to look forward to playing another game, a very important game and one that is much bigger than the one we just played. That is what we have to focus on."
Miles was not surprised by McFadden's abilities.
"I knew how good he was – I watched him a year ago," Miles said. "I was not surprised; I was surprised how successful he was against us, but not about the running back. He has a great combination of power and speed. If he is not the first player taken at his position I would be surprised. He certainly had a Heisman performance today."
Richardson's big play came on a day when Byrd had victimized him for a pair of scores.
"Byrd, they had been isolating him all night so Coach was like stay inside of him because he had beat us on two crucial touchdowns to get them into the game," Richardson said. "He said what ever he runs, he can catch anything, but do not let him catch a slant. My defensive line got pressure and he just threw it up and I just caught it."
It capped two weeks in which Nutt's job status had been a major topic in the state.
"We've had a lot of negativity and a lot of hate that has been thrown our way," Nutt said. "It's a credit to the coaching staff and I just love them."
Richardson said nobody gave the Razorbacks a shot, but themselves.
"Nobody thought we were going to win and they thought we were just going to make it a game," Richardson said. "But we came out and played our game and just listened to Coach Nutt. We have been taking a lot of heat and everybody has been talking about how our coach was going to leave. We just been sticking to the script and taking it one play at a time and we just came out on top.
"He has been saying regardless of what anybody says, we are a family," Richardson said. "Other than our mothers and fathers, this is the closest thing we've got. We are close-knit and coach told us he would tell us anything first before he went to the media. We believe in our coach and we love him."
Arkansas took a 28-21 lead in the middle of the fourth quarter on McFadden's touchdown pass to Hillis.
"He was so wide open that I tried my best not to overthrow him," McFadden said. "I almost underthrew it. When I threw the ball, I knew it was going to be short. I was like Ohhh, but then he got it and I was very happy after that."
But LSU quarterback Matt Flynn threw a fourth-down touchdown pass with just over a minute left to send it to overtime.
"In my mind, there was no way we were going to lose this game," LSU tight end Richard Dickson said. "Our fans are great, and it was louder than I've ever heard it here."
Flynn then went 12 yards for the go-ahead score in the first overtime, but Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick converted a fourth down pass to Hillis and than tossed to him for a score to tie it 35-35 in the first overtime.
McFadden and Jacob Hester then scored in double overtime to make it 42-42.
Hillis than scored on a 3-yard run in the third overtime and Felix Jones added the 2-point conversion run to get it to 50-42.
Arkansas won the toss, but decided to take the ball instead of playing defense first.
"Usually we would go on defense, but I didn't feel good about that and wanted to go on offense first," Nutt said. "I wanted to put the pressure on them and I knew our offense was hitting on all cylinders. I knew our defense was a little tired and I thought LSU's defense was too so I told (UA defensive coordinator) Reggie (Herring) that I was going to do the normal thing and y'all go play defense. I wanted to put the pressure on them."
Flynn answered with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Lafell, but Richardson jumped in front of Byrd and intercepted it to end the game.
It was obviously a tough loss for LSU and tailback Jacob Hester, who had 27 carries for 129 yards and two touchdowns.
"We never give up, no matter what the score is and no matter what the situation is," Hester said. " We fight, which shows the character of our head coach and the guys that we have. We are never out of a game, no matter what the score is. We always keep fighting, just like we did tonight. We just couldn't make the final play."
It appeared that LSU had taken a 27-21 lead on a 54-yard pass from Flynn to Hester in with just over 8 minutes left, but an illegal formation wiped that out.
That allowed the Razorbacks to grab a 28-21 lead when McFadden drove his team down the field and hit Hillis on a 24-yard touchdown pass with 5:06 remaining.
But LSU converted two fourth down playson its next drive - one that was capped by Flynn's 2-yard pass to Demetrius Byrd with less than a minute left in the game.
Arkansas took a 7-6 lead in the second quarter when the Razorbacks marched 97 yards in 9 plays - the team's longest drive of the season.
The drive had liberal use of the Wild Hog, including a couple of passes by McFadden.
It culminated when McFadden – with Michael Smith dancing in motion beside him - raced 16 yards up the middle for the score.
Tejada's PAT surged Arkansas ahead 7-6 with 7:33 remaining before halftime.
McFadden, in the Wild Hog again, then went 73 yards for a score – thanks in part to a big downfield block by quarterback turned wideout Casey Dick on LSU speedster Chad Jones.
Tejada's PAT had Arkansas ahead 14-6 with 9:49 left in the third quarter.
Dick was 10-of-18 passing for 94 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions while also lining up several plays at wideout.
Nutt said his team went into the game knowing it would use a lot of Wild Hog.
"We intended for that," Nutt said. "We were going to at least go 30 percent, maybe more. Their defense is so fast, so good that we had to do something that we felt like gave us an advantage. With McFadden at quarterback, they had to respect run; they had to respect Felix; they had to respect Peyton; they had to respect pass. It gives us the best advantage against all those great athletes."
LSU answered right back with Jones returning the kickoff to the Tiger 49 and Jacob Hester eventually bulling in from the 12.
Flynn then called his own number on the 2-point conversion to tie it 14-14 with 7:47 showing.
It took only three plays for Arkansas to regain the lead with Hillis taking a handoff and racing 65 yards untouched up the middle for a score as the Razorbacks went ahead 21-14.
The Tigers answered again to tie it 21-21 on Flynn's 7-yard touchdown pass to Demitrius Byrd with 2:22 in the third quarter and went into the fourth quarter with that score with obviously a lot of fireworks still left.
It was just a year ago that LSU upset higher-ranked Arkansas in Little Rock.
"Yes. It's the same scenario," Nutt said. "Last year we were SEC (Western division) champions, and it was the same scenario. We had our ticket punched, and they got us in a very hard-fought game in Little Rock. But this league is the toughest league in America. That's what's hard sometimes for our people to understand – every Saturday anybody can beat anybody in this league if you look at this thing closely. Anybody can beat anybody."
McFadden fumbled the opening kickoff at and the LSU recovered at the 25, but the Arkansas' defense stiffened and the Tigers could only get a field goal.
Colt David drilled a 32-yarder to put LSU up 3-0 with 13:19 remaining.
McFadden fumbled again on the ensuing kickoff, but recovered it himself to avoid further danger.
When the Razorbacks failed to pick up a first down, LSU took over and David eventually booted a career long tying 29-yarder for a 6-0 advantage as 7:16 showed in the opening quarter.
"I had a rough start. I put the ball on the ground a couple of times," McFadden said. "I was down on myself for a little while, but I'm glad it came back the way it did."
But it is all about how you finish and it appears now that the Razorbacks will likely be heading for the Cotton Bowl after what is the biggest win of Nutt's 10-year tenure at Arkansas.
"Well, it has to be," Nutt said when asked if it was his biggest win. They (LSU) are ranked No. 1. I always think about (wins against) Texas and Tennessee, but to come down here in Baton Rouge is huge."
Darren McFadden scores on a 16-yard run out of the Wild Hog package.
Felix Jones breaks loose on a 31-yard gain in the second quarter.
Ramon Broadway hauls down a Tiger on a kickoff return.
Arkansas defense hauls down LSU running back Keiland Williams ballcarrier.
UA 50, No. 1 LSU 48 (3 OT)
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