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
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.
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