In a game that I am calling the most important of the Gamecock's 2011 season, South Carolina travels to Arkansas to take on the suddenly vulnerable-looking Razorbacks.
It's the "other" matchup of BCS Top 10 SEC teams this week (Alabama wins, by the way), but one that is very important.
South Carolina needs this to continue to control its destiny in the east. Arkansas needs this in order to keep pace for a potential BCS At-Large bid.
This should be just as exciting as that "other" game.
|South Carolina Advantage||Even||Arkansas Advantage|
|Defensive Line||X |
|Defensive Backs||X ||
South Carolina versus Arkansas comes down to offense versus defense. South Carolina has a pedestrian offense going against Arkansas and their pedestrian defense.
It will come down to which bad group shows up and plays well. Do you trust Carolina's offense, or Arkansas defense?
Here are the keys to a Carolina victory.
Brandon Wilds had a fumble and Connor Shaw threw an interception, which could have led to points. However, Tennessee being Tennessee, they didn't do any damage.
Against Arkansas, it is a different story.
South Carolina's ball controlling grind-it-out offense can work against Arkansas, but only if the turnovers are eliminated.
South Carolina's front will have no problem pressuring the quarterback. However, can they consistently control the line of scrimmage on run plays?
If Arkansas gets its two excellent backs going, it could be a long day for the defense. The defensive backs will have its hands full with the excellent Razorback receivers. If all of the offensive facets get going, then a blowout could be eminent.
The defense line must set the tone on every play.
South Carolina no longer has the firepower to come from behind against a potent Razorback team.
They need to keep the game close and strategically take their shots. If Arkansas jumps out to a two-score lead, the team could struggle, because it would take the Gamecocks out of what they are good at presently.
There are too many great receivers for Arkansas to use zone coverage exclusively. Tyler Wilson will eat that up.
So, South Carolina will have to rely on Stephon Gilmore to act like the first-round draft choice he is still projected to be, and shut down his man. It will probably be Jarius Wright, which is a matchup that Stephon can win, if he is on his game.
Jarius is only 5'10'', but is a physical specimen.
Gilmore can out-size him, and play the same physical game.
If Gilmore plays all out, that will allow Victor Hampton and the rest of the defensive backs to blanket the remaining weapons, which will go a long way in keeping the Arkansas passing attack at bay.
Time to earn your NFL money, Gilmore.
In a game that I am harping on being an excellent offense versus excellent defense matchup, special teams could be key.
Field position will be a huge factor in this game, so the kick coverage and punting must be better.
This game could come down to a field goal.
No matter what, South Carolina's special teams must play well. They can work in tandem with the defense to make it hard for the Razorbacks to score.
Last week's win against Tennessee wasn't a surprise to any of the pickers last week, including the Tennessee featured columnist.
In fact, we all predicted the score to be a low scoring affair... just not quite as low as the 14-3 final.
I predicted a score of 24-10 in favor of the Gamecocks, so I added 17 to my total.
LHD predicted the score to be 23-10, which means he saw 16 points added to his score.
Our guest, Joel Barker, predicted SC to win 17-13, so he took a 13-point hit.
So as it stands:
1. Alex Roberts (7-1) +196
2. Leftover Hot Dog (7-1) +204
3. Guest Experts (6-2) +256
This weeks guest picker is James Brown, an Arkansas featured columnist.
My Score Prediction: South Carolina 24, Arkansas 21
I am going with my heart. My head says otherwise, but through the week I have grown more confident that our defense will prevail.
Leftover Hot Dog's Prediction: South Carolina 20, Arkansas 17
"Gamecocks in a shocker. My brain tells me Arky will win but my heart says Gamecocks defense will put USC’s offense in good position for easy scores".-LHD
Guest Expert's Prediction: Arkansas 31, South Carolina 17
The Razorbacks take advantage of home cooking with a big win over South Carolina. -James Brown
As always, it is great to be a Gamecock, and you can always fan me on Facebook!