The 2007 college football season was one of the most eventful in history. Dubbed the ‘Year of the Upset’ and ‘The Curse of No. 2′, lots of unpredictable results occurred. No. 5 Michigan lost to Appalachian State in their season opener. A Stanford team that went 1-11 the previous season, defeated No. 2 USC at the Coliseum. A 4-7 Pittsburgh team defeated No. 2 West Virginia team in both teams’ season finale.
But perhaps no game encapsulated the season more than the Arkansas-LSU game that year.
In 2006, the Hogs managed to accumulate ten wins en route to an SEC championship game appearance. While this was a great year by Arkansas’ standards, it was mired in turmoil.
Before the 2006 season, Arkansas hired Gus Malzahn to become the OC of the school. Malzahn coached at Springdale High School in 2005, a school that hosted numerous D1 players. Among these included QB Mitch Mustain, the No. 1 ranked QB in the country, and top 100 WR Damian Williams.
Malzahn was able to convince four of his Springdale players, including Mustain and Williams, to come with him to Arkansas.
However, Malzahn had many frustrations during his short stint at Arkansas. In the 2006 season, Malzahn was not able to install his patented hurry-up no huddle offense completely. Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt’s style was to huddle and he wasn’t willing to give it up. Also, since Arkansas had a stacked backfield of Darren McFadden, Felix Jones, and Peyton Hillis, the passing game became subordinate.
Mustain did find some early success as the starting QB, leading the Hogs to a 8-0 record in his starts. However, his frustrations with the Arkansas’ offense eventually boiled over.
At the end of the year, Malzahn left to become OC at Tulsa, while Mustain and Williams transferred to USC. Nutt’s clash with Malzahn made his seat warmer in Fayetteville, as fans began to question why Nutt couldn’t relinquish his inferior scheme.
After a 10-win season in 2006, Arkansas came into the year ranked No. 21. However, their dreams of making it back to Atlanta soon crashed. They went 1-2 through three games, losing to Alabama and Kentucky. However, they turned it around soon after, winning five of their next six games. After a beatdown by Tennessee, they routed Mississippi State by two touchdowns, giving them a 7-4 record.
McFadden had another great year, accumulating 1,830 yards on the ground and 21 total touchdowns. McFadden’s running mate, Felix Jones, chipped in with 1,160 yards and 11 touchdowns.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) November 3, 2020
This was a disappointment after the success they achieved last year. It also called into question Houston Nutt’s offensive scheme once again. The longtime Arkansas coach’s seat was getting warmer and warmer as the season was unwinding.
LSU was a program on the rise in college football. After capturing a national title in 2003 under Nick Saban, the Tigers became a college football powerhouse. In two seasons under Les Miles, the Tigers won at least eleven games, and were looking for more in 2007.
After six games, the Tigers record sat at 6-0 and the AP ranked the team No. 1. LSU did have a hiccup in their seventh game, losing on the road to Kentucky in three OTs. But LSU got back on track, winning four straight games and re-capturing the No. 1 spot in the AP Poll. They now sat at 10-1 and controlled their own destiny.
The Tigers had a balanced team. They ranked No. 11 in total offense and No. 17 in total defense on the year. Their offense was led by QB Matt Flynn, FB Jacob Hester, and WR Early Doucet. The defense was anchored by top-5 NFL picks DL Tyson Jackson and DL Glenn Dorsey. They also had several draft picks in the secondary, including CB Chevis Jackson and safety Craig Steltz.
Arkansas seemed outmatched all across the field, which was reflected in the betting lines. The line for the game was -13 in favor of LSU.
The stage was set. One program was faltering by the wayside, while the other was becoming a rising power. LSU seemed destined to steam roll their way to a win en route to a national title appearance.
From the opening snap it seemed that intuition was right. Darren McFadden fumbled the opening kickoff, which gave LSU the ball inside the 25-yard line.
But luckily, the Arkansas defense locked up LSU’s offense in the first quarter, giving up only a pair of field goals. The Razorbacks were down only 6-0 after the first period.
Much of the Arkansas offense came from the Wildcat formation, with McFadden getting direct snaps with Hillis and Jones in the backfield. The Hogs felt they had an advantage running along the edge with McFadden and Jones and used the wildcat formation accordingly.
In the second, starting from their own three-yard line, the Razorbacks put together a nine play drive that culminated in a McFadden 16-yard TD.
That would be the only score of the second quarter, and the Hogs went into halftime with a 7-6 lead.
The third quarter is where the real fun began. McFadden ran for a 73-yard TD, and later Hillis galloped 65 yards to the house. LSU also put together two TD drives and tacked on a two point conversion. These scores tied the game at 21 apiece.
In the fourth, McFadden threw a TD pass to Hillis and the Tigers responded with a 13 play drive to tie the game. Arkansas and LSU sat tied 28-28 at the end of regulation, and the game went to overtime.
McFadden, Jones, and Hillis kept Arkansas in the game during the overtime period. Hillis caught another TD pass in the first period of overtime to tie the game and keep Arkansas’ chances alive. Then McFadden scored in the second overtime period to put Arkansas up, although LSU responded with a TD of their own.
In the third OT, Arkansas had the first possession. LSU forced a 3rd & 4 at the 19 yard-line. However, Felix Jones was able to find an opening on a toss sweep to get a first down. After that, Arkansas ran a couple of wildcat plays with McFadden to put the ball on the three yard-line. Then QB Casey Dick gave the ball to Hillis, who powered his way in for a TD.
Since it was the third overtime, Arkansas had to go for two. The Hogs went back to the toss sweep, and Jones stumbled into the end zone for two points.
2007: Arkansas upsets #1 LSU with a backfield of:
🐗 Darren McFadden
🐗 Peyton Hillis
🐗 Felix Jones
— PFF College (@PFF_College) June 14, 2021
Then, LSU got the ball with the game on the line. Flynn was able to lead LSU on a TD drive, capped off by a outside pass to Brandon LaFell. LaFell then stiff-armed his way into the end zone to score.
On LSU’s two point play, the Tigers had an unbalanced look with three receivers to the field side and one receiver toward the boundary. The Hogs were playing a cover one man look. At the snap, the high safety blitzed and Flynn looked and threw toward the boundary receiver, who was breaking in. Arkansas CB Matteral Richardson got to the spot in time to pick the ball off and give Arkansas a 50-48 win.
To read more about Arkansas this upcoming season, click here.
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