South Carolina came into Fayetteville with a highly regarded defense, and holding on loosely to first place in the SEC East Division. The Gamecocks left Fayetteville with their defense battered, a 44-28 loss, and a firm grip on second place in the East.
Arkansas didn’t wait until the second half this go-around. They came out this Homecoming Night, and moved the ball almost at will, against what was suppose to be the second best passing defense in the league. But that defense was exposed to the tune of 299 pass yards and 2 passing touchdowns by Arkansas QB Tyler “Timex” Wilson.
One point of interest provided during the game Saturday night by ESPN, was that Carolina had not played a team with an overall offense ranked higher than 54th nationally, until they took on the Razorbacks (25th). I seem to remember at least three teams ranked 100th or higher in total offense on that list.
So what does that mean in hindsight? To me, it means that the South Carolina defense had not truly been tested until they stepped onto Frank Broyles Field at Reynolds Razorback Stadium. It also tells me that their defense was and is, overrated.
To the Gamecocks credit, they did gain a defensive touchdown on a stupid play by Wilson, when he threw his lone interception. They also pressured Wilson on several occasions, and had a great goal line stand late in the game.
The Carolina offense didn’t help their D any, gaining only 207 total yards (49 in the first half), giving up five QB sacks (three to Jake Bequette), and turning the ball over four times. You won’t win very many games with an offense like that.
It’s obvious the Gamecocks are missing RB Marcus Lattimore. But could they be missing QB Stephen Garcia too? Future NFL receiver Alshon Jeffery is not being included in Carolina’s offense, mostly because QB Connor Shaw can’t consistently get the ball to him.
Arkansas, on the other hand, spreads the ball around each game, and takes advantage of their teams plethora of talent. I like that word…plethora. The Hogs have a plethora of passing yards, and a plethora of wide receivers.
Jarius Wright burned USC for four receptions, 103 yards, and 2 touchdowns. He was named the Crip Hall Award recipient, which is given to the top senior performer in the Homecoming game.
That award could have gone to RB Dennis Johnson. DJ carried the ball 15 times for 86 yards, caught four passes for 36 receiving yards, and had 130 kickoff return yards, to include a 98 yard touchdown sprint. That’s 252 all-purpose yards for the game.
Basically the #7 Arkansas Razorbacks punched the #9 South Carolina Gamecocks straight in the beak, and never let up until the final horn sounded. Even when the Gamecocks cut Arkansas’ lead to 30-28, there was no panic on the UA sideline. The final nail in the coffin, was a brutal QB sack by Bequette on Shaw, causing the quarterback to fumble at the USC 1-yard line. DD Jones recovered for the Hogs, and two plays later Arkansas had a 44-28 lead.
The victory moved Arkansas to 8-1 on the season, and kept them in contention for a share of the SEC West title, and a possible BCS Bowl berth for the second consecutive year. It was also the Hogs first victory in a top 10 match-up in Fayetteville in 46 years. The last time a top 10 ranked Arkansas squad defeated a visiting top 10 team at Razorback Stadium, was November 20, 1965. The #2 Hogs beat #9 Texas Tech that day, 42-24.
With Tennessee coming to Fayetteville next weekend, Head Coach Bobby Petrino and his staff will have their hands full getting this team ready and focused to take on the Volunteers.
Carolina now has to hope Georgia loses another SEC contest, or they will not make a return trip to the SEC Championship Game. But the Gamecocks have more to worry about than what the Dawgs will do. They have almost no running game to speak of, the Ole Ball Coach can’t seem to get his best receiver involved in the game, and their defense may not be as good as they thought it was.
Arkansas wins game number 20 between these two, and they take a 13-7 series lead over Carolina. The Hogs have won four of the last five meetings, to include the last three in a row. Not much to crow about for the Fighting Chickens.