LSU Falls From No. 1 Against Arkansas


Saturday, November 24th 2007, 2:32 pm
By: News On 6


BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Despite all of LSU's talent and flair for the dramatic, the Tigers rarely seemed comfortable with life at the top. Done in by another Heisman Trophy hopeful in another triple-overtime defeat, LSU will lose its No. 1 ranking for the second time this season, and likely the last.

Darren McFadden rushed for 206 yards and three touchdowns, and even threw for another score to lift Arkansas to a 50-48 victory over LSU on Friday. LSU still has a good shot to play a bowl game in New Orleans, but not the one they wanted, the BCS championship on January 7th.

``It's a sick feeling, losing another tough game that we played our hearts out,'' said LSU tight end Richard Dickson, who caught five passes for 69 yards. ``We can think about it for a while, but we have to come out next week and win an SEC title.''

The Tigers (10-2, 6-2 Southeastern Conference) had already clinched the SEC West Division and will move on to the conference title game in Atlanta on December 1st.

Winning the SEC title will put LSU in the Sugar Bowl. No team with two losses has ever played in the national title game. A few more upsets could put LSU back in the debate, but it could've been much easier for the Tigers if they had gotten a handle on McFadden.

``Certainly, he had a Heisman performance today,'' LSU coach Les Miles said. ``Right now, there's a goal of our football team taken off the board and it's sad. ... Tonight, we'll be sick.''

McFadden's rushing touchdowns went for 16 yards in the second quarter, 73 yards in the third period and 9 yards in the second OT. His TD pass was a flawlessly executed 24-yarder over the middle to Peyton Hillis after McFadden froze the defense with a play-action fake.

Heisman voters will have to think twice about leaving McFadden off of the top of their ballot. ``However you want to put it,'' McFadden said, ``numbers speak for themselves.''

Hillis scored four TDs, the last in the third overtime. Felix Jones ran for the critical 2-point conversion to make it 50-42 for the Razorbacks (8-4, 4-4).

LSU responded when Matt Flynn found Brandon LaFell for a 9-yard TD, but Matterral Richardson intercepted the 2-point conversion attempt, and Arkansas' bench emptied onto the field in triumph, having ended the nation's longest home winning streak at 19 games.

That had to devastate most of the 92,606 fans who filled Tiger Stadium with earsplitting roars throughout this classic, then quietly filed out while the Razorbacks celebrated in Death Valley. ``Hey, we were the best team in the country today,'' said Houston Nutt, who is rumored to be on his way out as the Razorbacks' coach.

McFadden, last year's Heisman Trophy runner-up, has 1,725 yards rushing this season, breaking the school's single-season record he set last year. He often took direct snaps in the ``Wild Hog'' formation, in which he was a triple threat to run, hand off or throw. He was most dangerous running the ball, as usual.

``We had been watching film of LSU and saw they had weaknesses against running quarterbacks,'' McFadden said. ``It was something we planned on doing all week.''

Miles said he thought he had a good plan for the ``Wild Hog,'' with two defenders shadowing McFadden. LSU linebacker Ali Highsmith did his best, making 15 tackles. ``There were two pretty good LSU tacklers ready to tackle that guy and he didn't go down,'' Miles said. ``It definitely affected us.''

Hillis ran for 89 yards and Jones had 85 as Arkansas finished with 385 yards on the ground against one of the best run defenses in the country.

Now that LSU has fallen as No. 1 a second time, the winner of Saturday night's game between No. 2 Kansas and No. 3 Missouri was likely to take over the top spot in the rankings and the BCS standings. No. 4 West Virginia, which was third in the BCS standings, had a chance to sneak up to at least No. 2 in each with a win over Connecticut.