When talking to most South Carolina fans that I know at the beginning of the season, the general feeling was that South Carolina was going to be 11-1 at best.
The one loss that most people assumed would occur?
One clue. It wasn't Auburn.
It was the Razorbacks.
Fans continue to have that feeling. The Gamecocks have only beaten Arkansas three times since 2000, and the dominance has been surprising.
These two teams came into the SEC together, and seem to be on even footing. Neither one has won the SEC, while Arkansas has had four chances to South Carolina's one.
South Carolina is generally a better recruiting school than Arkansas, finishing ahead of them seven times since 2002.
It doesn't matter. For whatever reason, Arkansas has owned the Gamecocks.
That is one reason why this game is so important. If the Gamecocks are trying to be a different team, then they must beat Arkansas. This season has the potential to still be special. South Carolina's stifling run defense and ball-control offense can lead to wins.
The Gamecocks winning out the rest of the regular season is not out of the question. Florida and the Citadel should be winnable games. Clemson can be beaten, and their defense could make South Carolina's offense look good.
Standing in the way is a talented Arkansas team. South Carolina could even claim the SEC East this weekend with a win against Arkansas and a Georgia loss to Auburn next weekend.
Without a doubt, how people look back on 2011 could depend on how this game turns out in Arkansas. There is a great deal riding on it.
It's great to be a Gamecock.