Bayou Beatdown

BATON ROUGE, La. --The Golden Boot trophy is headed to Fayetteville. Darren McFadden can expect a trip to New York City.

And as for Arkansas coach Houston Nutt, there is a chance he might not be going anywhere after all.

After three overtimes, more than four hours and one Heisman Trophy performance by McFadden, the Razorbacks managed Friday evening to top the Miracle on Markham.

They knocked No. 1 LSU out of the national championship race, shook up the Bowl Championship Series picture and made history with a shocking 50-48 victory in front of a crowd of 92,606 in Tiger Stadium, as well as a national TV audience.

"All I know is, hey, we were the best in the country today," Nutt said. "We were the best team in the country today."

The Razorbacks (8-4, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) capped their unpredictable regular season by lasting four hours, 20 minutes in the cold to pull out one of the greatest victories in school history.

Friday marked only the fourth time Arkansas has beaten a top-ranked team, and it was the first time since a 42-11 win over No. 1 Texas in 1981.

At that time, Nutt was a graduate assistant at Oklahoma State and McFadden wasn't even born yet.

"It's a great feeling. Last year we played them, we were 10-1. They knocked us out of the chance to go to the national championship (game)," McFadden said. "So it was a great feeling to be able to return the favor."

Arkansas perhaps earned an invite to Dallas for the Cotton Bowl with the win over LSU (10-2, 6-2).

The Razorbacks won in typical Nutt fashion: By running the football and outlasting an opponent in overtime. And in the process, the Razorbacks perhaps saved their coach's job.

Jeff Long, who will take over as Arkansas' athletic director when Frank Broyles retires at the end of the year, didn't want to discuss Nutt's situation afterward.

"I'm thrilled. What a game. It was a great team effort by the Arkansas team," Long said, waiting outside the visitors' locker room to congratulate Nutt.

"I'm so proud to be associated with this program and the way these young people played and the way they kept fighting back."

The celebration began as soon as cornerback Matterral Richardson sealed the win by intercepting a pass by LSU quarterback Matt Flynn in the end zone on a two-point conversion attempt in the third overtime.

Nutt exchanged hugs with his players and assistant coaches. McFadden held up one of the wooden baseball bats Nutt had given the entire team last week. And offensive tackle Robert Felton waved a large white Razorbacks flag in the end zone -- like he did following last year's upset at then-No. 2 Auburn.

"After I caught that ball, I was like, 'It's over with,'" Richardson said. "We had been practicing all week, and the coaches were like, 'Believe.'"

Before Friday, Arkansas had not beaten LSU (10-2, 6-2) since Nov. 29, 2002 when quarterback Matt   Jones connected with DeCori Birmingham for the game-winning touchdown in War Memorial Stadium in what is known as The Miracle on Markham.

McFadden and Arkansas fullback Peyton Hillis proved to be the heroes Friday, breaking off long runs and making big plays in overtime.

McFadden scored the Razorbacks' first two touchdowns, threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Hillis and boosted his Heisman chances by scorching LSU's defense for 206 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries.

Hillis, meanwhile, had the game of his career.

The senior broke off a 65-yard touchdown run that gave the Hogs a 21-14 lead at 5 minutes, 46 seconds remaining in the third quarter. He then picked up a first down with a 13-yard reception on a fourth-and-10 in the first overtime.

And Hillis bulldozed his way three yards into the end zone for Arkansas' final touchdown in triple overtime. Running back Felix Jones scored on the ensuing two-point conversion for the winning points.

"That was my Super Bowl. That was my national championship," said Hillis, who scored four touchdowns Friday. "And nobody came out here thinking we could do it."



Arkansas running back Darren McFadden proved he was a Heisman Trophy candidate by rushing for 206 yards and three touchdowns. Fullback Peyton Hillis showed his versatility with four touchdowns (two rushing, two receiving), and the defense held its own when it mattered most.


Quarterback Matt Flynn struggled to get into a rhythm in the first half, forcing LSU to settle for a pair of field goals. The defense couldn't stop Arkansas' running attack, and Flynn picked the wrong time to throw his first interception.

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