In this installment of our Arkansas All-BCS Era team, we take a look back on the careers of one of the most dangerous and electrifying tailback tandems in college football history.
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With a combined 7,546 rushing yards and 61 touchdowns, it should be no surprise that the dynamic duo of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones make up the backfield of this squad. For three years, the two ran hog wild all over the southeast, wreaking havoc on just about any defense unfortunate enough to take the field against the Razorbacks.
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McFadden and Jones both epitomized the term "home run threat" - anytime either of them was on the field, they were a highlight waiting to happen. A simple run between the tackles often resulted in an explosive burst into the second level, where a defensive back could be burned by blazing speed just as easily as he could be run over.
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Run DMC became the second player in SEC history to rush for 1,000 yards in his first three seasons alongside Georgia’s Herschel Walker. He stands alone with Ricky Williams as the only two-time and back to back Doak Walker Award winner, and he reigns supreme over Arkansas running backs with 4,590 yards which is second in SEC history only to Herschel Walker. He was a Consensus All American in 2006 and 2007, and a two time Heisman runner up.
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Felix was the perfect complement to McFadden, as the two rushed for over 1,000 yards each in back to back seasons. Jones led the nation as a junior in 2007 with 9.1 yards per carry, nearly running for a first down each time he touched the ball. Jones finished his career rushing for 2,954 yards and 20 touchdowns as a Razorback.
It was the versatility of the two, however, that set them apart. For Jones, his talent was well suited in the kick return game; as a junior in 2007, he led the SEC with 546 return yards. He scored four touchdowns returning kicks in his three seasons, two of which he went the distance of the field. He finished his Razorback career with 1794 return yards, an SEC record at the time. He was a Consensus All American as a return man.
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After playing some quarterback in high school, McFadden became the centerpiece of the Wildcat offense, where he would take snaps from the shotgun and what happened after the snap was anyone’s guess. A read option with Felix that resulted in a big play, more often than not; who do you try to stop? A D-Mac run right up the middle was often successful, and sometimes he’d just drop back and let it fly. McFadden threw seven touchdowns out of the Wildcat.
Many consider McFadden to be the greatest Razorback in Arkansas history, and along with Felix to be one of the greatest backfields in SEC history. It isn't just the stats, which are remarkable. It isn't just the big plays in big games, which are numerable. It isn't just that they were both 1st round NFL draft picks. It's all of it. It was knowing Arkansas had the best players on the field every week, and that always gave the Hogs a shot to win, and most of the time they did - even beating then #2 Auburn at Auburn in 2006 and #1 LSU in Baton Rouge in 2007.
During a time in which the off the field problems in Fayetteville were substantial and ridiculous, these two gave fans more than enough reason to call the Hogs each week.
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The fact that Arkansas got these two together at the same time was a truly special treat. And not just that they were on the same team, but that they were able to be on the field together, McFadden often handing off to Jones himself. There was very little fuss about who should be getting more carries. A lot was broken off the field in those years, but not them. They were among the greatest we've ever seen, and that's why they're on this list.
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