Tigers' title dreams gone
BATON ROUGE, La. - Following Friday's game, just outside the LSU locker room, senior quarterback Matt Flynn was seen crying on a coach's shoulder.
Such strong, public displays of emotion are few and far between in football.
But after the way Flynn ended his home finale at LSU, his outburst of emotion seems justified.
Flynn, who completed 22-of-47 passes, threw an interception on a two-point conversion attempt in the third overtime to seal a 50-48 upset victory for Arkansas.
The loss dealt an devestating blow to the Tigers' national championship hopes as they now join a cluster of two-loss teams keeping their fingers crossed that somehow, some way their team can creep back up to the top of the rankings and polls.
Friday was the second time this season LSU has lost in triple overtime while ranked No. 1 in the nation.
It was also the Tigers first loss in Tiger Stadium since September 2005 against Tennessee, a home game which was also Les Miles' first as LSU head coach.
"This time is not happy," Miles said. "We understand that this cost us and what was at stake.
"There's a goal for our football team that's taken off the board."
The Tigers had several missed opportunities to score and stop the Razorbacks, especially after the end of regulation. LSU's defense stifled Arkansas in the beginning of the first overtime before the Razorbacks converted a fourth-and-10 opportunity which led to a touchdown.
The teams exchanged touchdowns until Flynn's errant pass was picked off by Matterral Richardson to end the game.
"We should have put the game away earlier," said LSU tight end Richard Dickson. "You can only win so many close games. It's a mental and physical drag. We've been doing this for so long, and it just kind of caught up on us."
LSU missed a golden opportunity when Razorbacks running back Darren McFadden fumbled the game's opening kickoff.
The Tigers recovered the fumble, but only mustered a field goal on the possession.
"I had a rough start," said McFadden, who finished the game 206 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries. "I was down on myself for a little while, but I'm glad I came back the way I did."
Aside from the crushed national title dreams, McFadden's play was the secondary topic of conversation in the Tigers' postgame interview room.
"I knew how good he was. I watched him a year ago," Miles said. "If he's not the first player taken at his position [in the NFL Draft], I would be surprised."
McFadden also completed three passes for 34 yards and another touchdown.
McFadden was the main reason Arkansas outgained LSU on the ground, 385-204, and overall, 513-413.
Both teams started the game slow offensively, and Arkansas had a 7-6 lead at halftime.
But each team scored 14 points in the third quarter to make tie the game at 21 going into the final period.
Arkansas' Peyton Hillis, who finished with 151 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns, put the Razorbacks ahead 28-21 with 5:06 left in regulation.
Flynn threw a pass to Demetrius Byrd with 57 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime.
WHAT THIS MEANS: The loss means LSU's major goal for the 2007 season is now capturing the SEC title. The Tigers will face either Tennessee or Georgia next Saturday in that conference championship game ... The win probably saved Arkansas coach Houston Nutt's job. Nutt has been on the hot seat for most of the season, but it'll be hard to justify firing a coach who finishes the regular season 8-4 with a win over the top-ranked team in the country.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Flynn's game-ending interception ... A gutsy call to pass on a two-point conversion didn't go the Tigers' way.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: This one is obvious. Darren McFadden improved his Heisman stock with his 206 rushing yards. In the second quarter, he moved ahead of Bo Jackson for third place on the SEC career rushing list.
NEXT UP: LSU plays in the SEC Championship game Dec. 1 ... Arkansas' regular season is completed.
NOTES: This was the Razorbacks' first win over the Tigers since 2002. It was also their first win over a top-ranked team since a 42-11 win against Texas in 1981 ... Friday's attendance of 92,606 was the fourth largest in Tiger Stadium history ... LSU's November winning streak has ended at 18 games. The Tigers 33-game winning streak against unranked opponents also ended. The loss was LSU's first at home against an SEC West opponent since Alabama beat the Tigers in 2002.