FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — In the final week of the 2007 regular season, former LSU coach Les Miles learned a hard lesson about insulting the state of Arkansas.
With the then-No. 1 Tigers set to host the unranked Razorbacks later in the week, Miles referred to Arkansas as “ar-Kansas” during a press conference. It added fuel to the fire in a game those Razorbacks already viewed as a heated rivalry.
After the Hogs pulled off a stunning 50-48 victory in triple overtime to claim the Golden Boot, it was Arkansas’ turn to do the talking.
“And that’s how you pronounce it, it ain’t ar-Kansas, it’s Arkansas, baby,” star running back Darren McFadden said in an interview with CBS after the game.
“For me, I just felt like at the time Arkansas wasn’t a big team, we weren’t on the map like that and it was just kind of disrespectful to me,” McFadden recently told SEC Country. “I’m a guy that’s from Arkansas, so I take a lot of pride in representing my state and for him to go and call it ar-Kansas, it just felt like a slap in the face.”
McFadden rushed for a game-high 206 yards with 3 rushing touchdowns and another passing while often taking direct snaps from the run-first “Wild Hog” formation. That game plan worked to perfection as McFadden and fellow running backs Peyton Hillis and Felix Jones each scored in overtime.
Jones also provided the difference with a 2-point conversion run, and cornerback Matterral Richardson sealed the win with an interception on LSU’s 2-point try moments later.
But things didn’t start out so smoothly for McFadden, the eventual Heisman Trophy runner-up. A junior at the time, playing in what would be his final regular-season game, McFadden fumbled on consecutive kickoffs in the first two minutes, losing one and recovering the other himself.
“I was a big part of that offense and our team counted on me a whole lot,” McFadden said. “By being one of the top guys going out there and putting the ball on the ground twice, that definitely can kill a team’s spirit. But I feel like I came back strong and I feel like our team fed off of that.”
Following the upset, longtime CBS play-by-play announcer Verne Lundquist declared “the dream dies for LSU” in reference to the Tigers’ national title hopes.
That, however, was a premature statement. A week later, LSU defeated Tennessee in the SEC title game and losses by Missouri and West Virginia, the top two teams in the BCS standings, vaulted the Tigers into the championship game. They then defeated Ohio State to become the first, and still only, two-loss champion of the modern era.
The 2007 season may have ultimately belonged to LSU, but not Nov. 24 of that year. That day has gone down as one of the greatest in Arkansas football history.
“It’s crazy being nine years later, but I still remember it like it was yesterday,” McFadden said. “I feel like that was one of my best college games, being able to go down there and to beat the No. 1 team in the country at the time.”
When asked about the Hogs’ clash with the Tigers on Saturday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN), McFadden gave a familiar response: “Just bring the wood!”