Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NCF Bowls 07 [Print without images]

Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Updated: January 2, 3:46 PM ET
McFadden quiet in what might have been his Arkansas finale

Associated Press

DALLAS -- Darren McFadden lunged into the end zone on fourth down, then dropped the ball and walked away slowly.

Darren McFadden

McFadden

It might have been his final touchdown at Arkansas (No. 25 AP) -- but there was nothing to celebrate.

"We had a bad game," McFadden said. "You don't want to lose a bowl game. You only have fun when you win a bowl game."

McFadden ran for 105 quiet yards Tuesday in Arkansas' 38-7 loss to Missouri (No. 6 BCS, No. 7 AP) in the Cotton Bowl. McFadden, a junior, can turn pro now. He said he'll talk with family before making any announcement about his future.

If he does leave, he'll do so as perhaps the greatest player in school history, but this was a New Year's Day to forget.

"They did a great job. They came out there working hard. They wanted it more than us," McFadden said. "We just didn't get going. Give them credit, they were ready to play."

McFadden, the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2006 and 2007, broke free for a 19-yard run and a 33-yard kickoff return in the second quarter. Those made for nice highlights, but nothing like the electrifying sprints that have marked his career.

Instead, it was Missouri's running back who stole the show. Tony Temple ran for 281 yards and four touchdowns.

"When you watch a running back do that against you it's hard to watch," McFadden said.

Arkansas was shut out until late in the third quarter, when McFadden scored from 3 yards out. The Razorbacks trailed 28-0 at that point.

Every time Arkansas made progress, something went wrong -- often within the same play. The Razorbacks appeared to have caught Missouri off guard in the first quarter with a fake punt. Instead the play was nullified because of an Arkansas timeout, and when the Razorbacks tried another fake immediately afterward, it was stopped.

Interim coach Reggie Herring was asked afterward who called time.

"That's useless information right now. It wasn't me," Herring said. "I'm thinking of a Dr. Seuss poem right now. It was who? Who was Mr. Who? It was Who? Who's on third? I don't think that's important right now. To be honest with you, I don't think that had anything to do with the overall play of us all day long."

It was hardly Arkansas' only mistake, that's for sure. In the second half, the Razorbacks turned the ball over five times, often just as they appeared to be building momentum.

Felix Jones took a screen pass 41 yards, then fumbled the ball away. Casey Dick later had a pass intercepted and returned for a touchdown to make it 28-0.

Arkansas' Adrian Davis intercepted Chase Daniel early in the fourth quarter, but after a return to near midfield, Davis fumbled and Missouri got the ball back. A few plays later, Davis recovered a Missouri fumble. Less than a minute after that, Dick completed a 20-yard pass to Peyton Hillis, who lost a fumble after the catch.

"It's very frustrating to move the ball 20 or 30 yards down field and cough it up in clutch situations," Hillis said. "We had chances to come back."

The Razorbacks later fumbled away a punt, capping a stretch in which the teams combined for five turnovers in 12 plays.

All that sloppiness limited any chance McFadden had to make an impact. He didn't have a carry in the fourth quarter.

McFadden did do enough to move into second place on the Southeastern Conference's single-season and career rushing lists. He's run for 1,830 yards this season and 4,590 for his career.

"I don't know about Darren's game today, but Darren McFadden is a great football player and a great competitor," Herring said. "He's done a lot for this program, and regardless of what Darren did today, he's a class act and he's a great individual."

In the middle of the postgame news conference, a moderator asked reporters to ask Jones and Hillis questions, because the two needed to leave the media tent.

"I've got to get out of here too," McFadden said.

Pretty soon, he might make a similar announcement in a different context. If so, this was a disappointing note to end on.