South Carolina has only won once against Arkansas in Fayetteville in Steve Spurrier's tenure. The Gamecocks have lost three straight there, all by double digits.
So it's not a stretch to say that it's going to be a tough game for South Carolina. Yes, the Gamecocks are ranked No. 12 in the nation (in the USA Today Poll), but they are facing an explosive Arkansas team. How can the Razorbacks pull off the upset?
The first key for the Razorbacks is to pound the ball on the ground. Arkansas has the 24th-ranked rushing attack in the nation. It's led by the dynamic duo of Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams. Collins is the leading rusher in the SEC, with 651 yards, while Williams is ranked fifth in the SEC, rushing for 503 yards.
The Gamecocks have a decent run defense, but it's not great. They give up 127.8 yards per game on the ground, plus they gave up 227 yards to an equally dynamic Georgia rushing attack.
I expect Collins and Williams to both have big games. The longer Arkansas has the ball, the less time Connor Shaw and Mike Davis have to make some noise. Davis, in particular, is dangerous. He averages a healthy 6.7 yards per carry and has eight touchdowns. The Razorbacks, like the Gamecocks, have just a decent run defense. They give up 124 yards per game. Keeping Davis off the field is essential.
The Razorbacks would also benefit from a nice game from Brandon Allen. The quarterback is below average, at best. He has a paltry completion percentage at 49.6 percent. But he played relatively well against Texas A&M, throwing for 282 yards and three touchdowns. South Carolina, like Texas A&M, doesn't have a great pass defense. They give up 237.2 passing yards per game. If Allen is going to have another good game, chances are it will happen against South Carolina. The Gamecocks allowed Blake Bortles of UCF to throw for 358 yards. Allen may not get that, but he'll put up some yardage.
Finally, Arkansas has to stop Jadeveon Clowney. I know it's been an up-and-down season, but we can't forget that he is the best defensive player in the nation. After all the talk surrounding his character, it would not be surprising if he breaks out. The Razorback offensive line has only allowed five sacks this season, but Clowney can be unblockable when he's motivated.
It's not going to be easy for Arkansas. Even with South Carolina's struggles in Fayetteville, the Razorbacks have lost three straight, including a pretty bad loss to Rutgers. They were no match for Texas A&M and Florida, and their three wins have come against the bottom-feeders of the FBS. They have a great rushing attack, but that's about it. They do not have the same talent level that the Gamecocks do.
But they do have an electric running game. Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams bring back memories of the days of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. In addition, the Razorbacks defense only gives up 23.5 points per game, which is ranked 43rd in the country.
Add that to the struggles of South Carolina at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, and the ingredients of an upset are all there.
Can they pull it off? Tough to say. But the rushing attack gives them a chance, and the home-field advantage could put them over the edge.
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