This season has been an absolute disaster for the Arkansas Razorbacks (4-5, 2-3). Bad news for John L. Smith’s team: It’s not going to get any easier for them this weekend in Columbia, South Carolina.
It hasn’t been all roses and sunshine either for Steve Spurriers’ South Carolina Gamecocks (7-2, 5-2). They lost consecutive games to Florida and LSU and then lost star running back Marcus Lattimore for the season—and perhaps longer—two weeks ago against Tennessee.
After Lattimore exited, the Gamecocks loaded up on the pass and quarterback Connor Shaw put up over 350 yards through the air.
He’ll have his shot to see what he can do on his sprained foot against the 112th-ranked Razorback pass defense.
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC
When: Saturday, Nov. 10 at 12 p.m. ET
Live Stream: SEC Live
Spread: South Carolina -13 (via Covers)
South Carolina’s defense is tough and the Razorback’s just simply is not. Arkansas’ defense has played better in recent weeks but those efforts have come against lesser competition like Auburn, Kentucky and Tulsa. They surrendered 34 points or more in the four consecutive losses prior to their win against Auburn on Oct. 6. Alabama and Texas A&M both put up over 50 points on them.
Steve Spurrier is too good of an offensive mind to not find a way to exploit the poor defense of the Razorbacks. That’s especially true because he’s had two weeks to prepare the matchup. The Gamecocks will cover easily in this one.
Over/Under: 52.5 (via Covers)
Both of these teams are going to be throwing early and often in this one. That bodes well for a high-scoring, old-fashioned, SEC shootout. Razorbacks quarterback Tyler Wilson is leading the SEC in passing and Connor Shaw is no slouch himself. He’ll be throwing frequently with Marcus Lattimore out for the season and because of the horrible Arkansas pass defense.
Still, I don't think the Razorbacks will be able to score enough points to put this one over 52.5. Go with the under on this one.
Injury Report via USA Today (as of Nov. 8, 2012)
RB Knile Davis, Hamstring, Questionable
TE Chris Gragg, Knee, Questionable
QB Brandon Mitchell, Suspension, Questionable
QB Connor Shaw, Foot, Probable
OT Mike Matulis, Shoulder, Questionable
DT Kelcy Quarles, Shoulder, Questionable
South Carolina is on the outside looking in when it comes to the BCS bowl season. Still, if LSU and Florida slip up in the final weeks of the season, there may be a spot for the Gamecocks with an at-large bid. Though, that’s highly unlikely at this point.
On the other side of the ball, the Razorbacks have had a giant fall from grace this season. They’ve lost five games already and could easily lose the remaining three on their schedule (South Carolina, Mississippi St., LSU). It’s safe to say they have nothing to gain other than pride from winning this one.
Keys for Razorbacks Victory
The Razorbacks certainly have potency in the passing game that may allow them to exploit the South Carolina secondary. However, the Gamecocks are not giving up much this season to opposing passing teams. They’ve surrendered just under 200 yards per game through the season, good enough for 27th-best in the country.
If Tyler Wilson can find a way to lift his teammates by playing a perfect game, there is a slight chance they could walk into Columbia and steal one from the Gamecocks.
Keys for South Carolina Victory
Without Marcus Lattimore, the focus of the offense will shift to Connor Shaw. This week, it shouldn’t be much of a problem for the QB because the Razorbacks are not good at all defending the pass. Still, the biggest key for the Gamecocks is surprisingly not on the offensive side of the ball.
They should be able to move the football and score points. The biggest key for them will be to rattle Tyler Wilson. If they harass him and keep him off balance, they’ll have a chance to slow the one facet of the Razorbacks' team that’s performing well at this point.
Without Marcus Lattimore, the tables are evened a bit but not enough to make up for the large talent gap between these two SEC teams. Make no mistake about it; Steve Spurriers’ Gamecocks are in a different league from their SEC Wast opponents.
Predicted Score: South Carolina 34, Arkansas 10