ON FOOTBALL: McFadden's 321 yards stand out in Arkansas history

Updated: November 7, 2007, 2:03 AM ET
Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK -- Houston Nutt's reaction was like everybody else's.

Sure, Darren McFadden had a big night -- but over 300 yards?

"It just blew my mind," Nutt said. "I knew he had a lot."

McFadden tied a Southeastern Conference record with 321 yards rushing against South Carolina on Saturday, and that was only one of his milestones on the night. He and Arkansas teammate Felix Jones combined for 487 yards, a major college record for rushing by two teammates.

Now that the dust has settled, it's time to put McFadden's effort in perspective. Was this the greatest individual game by a Razorback?

"I can't even think of anybody's performance that comes close -- any Arkansas player," said Harry King of the Arkansas News Bureau, who has covered Arkansas sports for over 35 years. "I remember Earl Campbell having a great game in Fayetteville when he was at Texas, but nobody from Arkansas. I can't even think of a number two that comes even anywhere close."

The new No. 2 on Arkansas' single-game rushing list is Dickey Morton, whose 1973 record of 271 yards lasted until the fourth quarter Saturday night. A little further down the list is Roland Sales, who ran for 205 yards and two touchdowns in the 1978 Orange Bowl. Sales replaced star Ben Cowins in that game and helped Arkansas upset No. 2 Oklahoma 31-6.

Sales was facing a tougher opponent than this year's South Carolina team, but King said his success had a lot to do with coach Lou Holtz's gameplan.

"It was such a surprise and so emotional and all of that kind of stuff, and Sales was certainly in the middle of it," said King, a longtime writer for The Associated Press. "But he had never came close to that -- he never showed any indication. It was more a matter of the scheme that they ran than it was the runner."

In Nutt's 10 seasons as coach, Arkansas has been effective running the ball, but nobody has been as spectacular as McFadden. Fred Talley ran for 241 yards against Auburn in 2002, which seems tame compared to McFadden's game.

No Arkansas player has ever thrown for 400 yards. Mike Reppond holds the receiving record with 204 yards in 1971. That was shortly after a memorable performance by Chuck Dicus in the 1969 Sugar Bowl. Dicus caught 12 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown -- huge numbers in those days -- in a victory over Georgia.

McFadden actually started slowly last weekend. He fumbled after a jarring hit on Arkansas' third drive, and although the Razorbacks recovered, he was shaken up.

"It was a great shot," McFadden said. "Everything just went black."

McFadden didn't have another carry in the first quarter. Meanwhile, Jones scored on runs of 40 and 72 yards.

"That game -- it was the most fun I've ever had," Jones said. "It was like everything was clicking."

Jones ran for a career-high 166 yards, and for a while, he looked like Arkansas' best running back. Then McFadden reminded everyone why he was second in the Heisman Trophy race last year -- and one of the top candidates this season before a slow October.

The scoreboard in Fayetteville keeps running track of team rushing and passing totals, but individual stats are largely a secret to spectators -- and players too, apparently.

"I had no idea that I was as high as I was in yardage," McFadden said. "It was a big shock to me."

The Razorbacks ran for 542 yards, which makes McFadden's 321 seem like less of an accomplishment. Jones might have approached 300 himself if he'd carried the ball as much as McFadden.

Still, there aren't many players who can turn a 20-yard run into an 80-yarder like McFadden, who went 80 yards in the fourth quarter for the touchdown that gave Arkansas a 48-36 lead. The Razorbacks held on to win by that score.

All McFadden's performance needs now is a name. From The Big Shootout to the Miracle on Markham, famous Arkansas games have lived on through various catch phrases. Surely someone can think of one for a 34-carry, 321-yard night.

Call it 3-2-1 Liftoff. If McFadden does rally to win the Heisman, this will be remembered as the turning point.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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