2:30 PM ET, November 24, 2006
Razorback Stadium, FAYETTEVILLE, AR
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- JaMarcus Russell and LSU cleared another contender from the national title picture and just might have added one more big game to their already brutal road schedule -- this time in the BCS.
The Tigers will gladly accept a trip like that, and after taking out No. 5 Arkansas, they feel they have a pretty good resume.
Russell threw for 210 yards and two touchdowns, and No. 9 LSU held off the SEC West champion Razorbacks 31-26 on Friday.
"I think we've made a case for the BCS certainly and we've made a case that maybe we're one of the best teams in this conference," Tigers coach Les Miles said. "If you were picking the best team, we'd have something to talk about it."
Arkansas was sixth in the BCS standings this week, but the Razorbacks held out hope that wins over the Tigers (10-2, 6-2) and next week against Florida in the Southeastern Conference title game would help them jump the other contenders and into the championship game against Ohio State.
Instead, LSU improved its chances of landing a bid to the Bowl Championship Series. After the game, the Tigers' cheering section began chanting "BCS" -- LSU is hoping to earn an at-large spot after entering the game 10th in the standings. Arkansas' chances of an at-large bid took a hit, but the Razorbacks had already clinched the West -- they can go to the Sugar Bowl if they win next week.
LSU played four road games this year -- all were against teams ranked in the top 10 at the time. The Tigers lost at Auburn and Florida before winning at Tennessee and Arkansas.
"We have the distinct impression that we may be the best team in the West," Miles said. "The West Division champion is the Arkansas team. I'm not certain who the best is."
Arkansas pulled within 31-26 on Felix Jones' 5-yard touchdown run with 4:53 remaining, and the Razorbacks (10-2, 7-1) got the ball back at their own 27 with 2:04 to play. But Casey Dick threw four straight incompletions, completing a miserable 3-for-17 day in which he passed for only 29 yards.
Heisman Trophy candidate Darren McFadden rushed for 182 yards for Arkansas, including an 80-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. But Trindon Holliday returned the ensuing kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown to make it 31-19 with 10:14 remaining.
"(Linebacker) Sam Olajubutu came to me and said, 'Three plays, have your offense ready," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "Then they hit that kickoff return."
Holliday's touchdown completed a wild stretch of three touchdowns in 45 seconds -- Russell had thrown a 7-yarder to Early Doucet immediately before McFadden's run.
Dick was 0-for-8 in the second half. He was intercepted early in the fourth quarter by LaRon Landry, who returned it 23 yards to the Arkansas 9, setting up Doucet's touchdown.
"It's tough for all of us," Dick said. "I obviously didn't play to the best of my abilities and I take full responsibility for that."
Arkansas hadn't lost since falling 50-14 to Southern California in the season opener. The Razorbacks appeared unstoppable early against LSU, driving 80 yards in 2:30 and taking a 6-0 lead on McFadden's 1-yard run. Arkansas was the first team this season to score on its first drive against LSU.
But Jeremy Davis missed the extra point, and the Tigers went ahead later in the quarter on Keiland Williams' 29-yard scoring run. LSU never relinquished its lead.
The Tigers made it 14-6 in the second when Russell threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Craig Davis on third-and-13.
Arkansas answered with Dick's 21-yard scoring pass to Marcus Monk, but Dick's pass for a 2-point conversion was incomplete -- and he didn't complete another.
LSU has won the Golden Boot -- a trophy shaped like a map of Louisiana and Arkansas -- four straight seasons. Arkansas fell to 20-2 at Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium under Nutt -- the other loss was in 2004 to LSU.
Jones ran for 137 yards, and he and McFadden became the first players to rush for 100 against LSU this year. McFadden now has 1,485 yards rushing on the season. He broke Madre Hill's single-season school record of 1,387 in 1995.
"We knew they had two of the best running backs in the country coming into the game so our focus was to stop them," LSU defensive end Chase Pittman said. "We did not do a great job of it but well enough to hold on for the victory."
McFadden was also Arkansas' leading passer on the day. He went 2-for-2 for 33 yards.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick fired four straight incompletions with just over a minute left in the game.
Gameball goes to... Darren McFadden. Even in a losing effort, the Arkansas running back showed why he's a Heisman candidate, rushing for 182 yards and two scores.
Stat of the game... 29&32. Dick completed 3 of 17 passes for 29 yards while McFadden was 2-for-2 for 32 yards.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||5-12||7-14|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||0-2|
|TD||12:30||DARREN MCFADDEN 1 YD RUN (MISSED KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||4:51||KEILAND WILLIAMS 29 YD RUN (COLT DAVID KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 70 yards.
|TD||10:55||CRAIG DAVIS 47 YD PASS FROM JAMARCUS RUSSELL (COLT DAVID KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 64 yards.
|TD||7:07||MARCUS MONK 21 YD PASS FROM CASEY DICK (FAILED 2PT PASS)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 76 yards.
|FG||7:24||COLT DAVID 27 YD FG|
Drive info: 15 plays, 70 yards.
|TD||10:59||EARLY DOUCET 7 YD PASS FROM JAMARCUS RUSSELL (COLT DAVID KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 9 yards.
|TD||10:31||DARREN MCFADDEN 80 YD RUN (JEREMY DAVIS KICK)|
Drive info: 1 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||10:14||TRINDON HOLLIDAY 92 YD KICK RETURN (COLT DAVID KICK)||31||19|
|TD||4:53||FELIX JONES 5 YD RUN (JEREMY DAVIS KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 37 yards.