Another week in college football, and another SEC showdown is on tap as the No. 18 Arkansas Razorbacks do battle with the No. 19-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks.
The week heading into this game, injuries have grabbed the headlines for both teams.
For the Gamecocks, starting cornerback Chris Culliver suffered a torn pectoral muscle Saturday in the 38-24 win over Tennessee and could be out for the rest of the season. This is not good news for a pass defense that ranks last in the SEC.
However, the Razorbacks also get some bad news on the injury front for this week. Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino said leading receiver Greg Childs will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury he sustained during the win against Vanderbilt.
For the Gamecocks, they are thin in the defensive secondary, and a pair of walk-ons in Brandan Davis and Marty Markett will see some playing time. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier will look to his offense to get the win for the Gamecocks. Freshman Marcus Lattimore has been a pleasant surprise out of the backfield this season, and he has the Gamecocks on the verge of winning the SEC East.
While this game is crucial for South Carolina, it becomes just as important for the Razorbacks.
A win by Arkansas will set them up for their best SEC finish since 2006. The Razorbacks will miss Childs at wide receiver, but as long as Ryan Mallett is taking snaps, the Razorbacks have a legitimate shot at winning.
Mallett is coming off a career night against Vanderbilt, as he threw for a school-record 409 yards and three touchdowns. Mallett leads the SEC in passing with 306 yards per game and was named the Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week. The Hogs are a pass-first team but still have talent in the backfield.
The Gamecocks are 3-7 against the spread (ATS) in their last 10 games as a favorite and 0-4 ATS in their last four games following a win. The Razorbacks are 10-4 ATS in their last 14 games as an underdog and 8-3 ATS when playing a team with a winning record. Arkansas has covered in seven of the last nine meetings and is 7-1 against the spread in its last eight SEC games.
The Gamecocks will look for quarterback Stephen Garcia and Lattimore to try to match up with the offense of the Hogs, and that just won’t happen. The weakness on defense with Gamecocks plays right into the strength of the Razorback offense, and this game could get ugly.
Mallett continues his impressive play and will light up the scoreboard as he skewers the decimated secondary in South Carolina. The Razorbacks win outright and improve their résumé on the season.
Matt Regaw is a B/R Featured Columnist and the founder of BookieBlitz.com, your one-stop shop for sports articles, previews and predictions. Feel free to contact Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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