FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- If Darren McFadden ends up holding the Heisman Trophy next month, the Arkansas tailback's first thank-you at the podium should go to the South Carolina defense.
For the third consecutive year McFadden treated the 23rd-ranked Gamecocks like a punching bag Saturday, rolling up a school-record 323 rushing yards to lead Arkansas to a 48-36 victory that likely dashed USC's SEC East title hopes for good.
Statistically speaking, it was one of the worst nights in USC's history.
With McFadden leading the way, Arkansas (6-3, 2-3) mauled the Gamecocks for 541 rushing yards and 650 total yards, the most allowed by USC in both categories in school history.
McFadden's 323 yards on 35 carries were the most ever by an opposing back against the Gamecocks, surpassing Kentucky tailback Moe Williams' 299-yard effort in 1995. McFadden ran for an 80-yard touchdown and also passed for a score.
USC (6-4, 3-4 SEC) lost for the third consecutive week to put its SEC championship hopes on life-support. The Gamecocks remain mathematically alive for the SEC East title, but need a win against Florida next week and an incredible amount of help to make it to Atlanta for the first time.
The three-game losing streak is the fourth of Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier's career, but second in as many years. Spurrier has not lost four in a row since 1987 in his first season at Duke.
Arkansas's 42 points tied for the most USC has allowed under Spurrier, matching a 48-7 loss to Auburn in 2005. Felix Jones added 174 rushing yards on 12 carries.
McFadden has saved some of his best games for the Gamecocks. The runner-up for the 2006 Heisman Trophy had a career-high 219 yards last year in Columbia and had averaged 203 yards in two previous meetings with USC.
McFadden joined Georgia great Herschel Walker as the only SEC backs to rush for 1,000 yards in each of their first three seasons.
The Gamecocks' defense, which had kept USC in so many games, looked helpless at times trying to stop the Razorbacks.
Arkansas, the SEC's top rushing team and No. 3 nationally, exposed a Gamecocks' defense that came in ranked 10th in the conference in stopping the run. The Razorbacks gashed huge holes in USC's 4-3 alignment and McFadden and Jones took turns zipping through it as Arkansas built a 28-10 halftime lead.
With McFadden and Jones each topping 100 yards in the first half, Arkansas piled up 292 rushing yards by halftime - 5 yards more than their league-leading average.
Though the Gamecocks scored on their first three second-half possessions, Arkansas kept answering.
USC kept the Arkansas offense off the field for the first six minutes of the second half with a successful onside kick following Ryan Succop's 30-yard field goal. Succop squibbed the ensuing kickoff toward the right sideline, where Emanuel Cook recovered it.
Five plays later, Blake Mitchell hit tight end Jared Cook on a crossing route for a 21-yard touchdown that made it 28-20 with 9:07 left in the third quarter.
On Arkansas' first second-half possession, McFadden threw a 23-yard touchdown to Robert Johnson on a halfback pass to make it a two-touchdown game again. McFadden dropped the pitch, picked it up and lofted to Johnson, who caught the ball over Carlos Thomas in the end zone.
Mitchell's 22-yard touchdown to Dion Lecorn capped a four-play scoring drive. But the Razorbacks responded with their own four-play drive before Jones ran in from 7 yards to increase the Hogs' lead to 42-27.
After the Gamecocks failed to score on a first-and-goal from the 5, the Razorbacks took over at their 2. On third down, McFadden failed to handle a shotgun snap and ran out of the end zone for a safety that cut the lead to 42-29.
Cory Boyd's 1-yard touchdown pulled USC to 42-36 with 8:15 remaining.
But McFadden put the game away with his 80-yard scoring burst 11 seconds later.