The Matchup: Arkansas (4-5, 2-3) at #8 South Carolina (7-2, 5-2)
When: Saturday, November 10th
Where: Columbia, SC
Game Time: 12:00 PM ET
Recent History: This series has been played every year since 1992, and Arkansas has beaten the Gamecocks handily the last three years with the average margin of victory at 16 points per game. Carolina is looking to reverse that streak Saturday.
Storyline(s): Without the ability to lean on their leader Marcus Lattimore in the ground game, how does the offense substitute and pick up the slack from a Lattimore-less offense? Last year, the Gamecocks finished 5-1 without Lattimore. Can they do it again?
Arkansas Wins If: Tyler Wilson gets back on track throwing the football. The Hogs are ranked 13th in rushing offense, but they get Knile Davis back from injury this week. We’ve been waiting on Davis to break out of his slump, but it looks unlikely he will do so. Dennis Johnson has done a nice job, but he’s not a game breaker at the position. Therefore, as with every week this season, this is Tyler Wilson’s game. Wilson has thrown for 2,526 yards and 16 touchdowns to go along with eight interceptions. In the last two games he has turned it over three times and thrown just two touchdowns. The offensive line has a tall task ahead blocking Jadeveon Clowney and company, and Wilson has been taking shots week after week in the pocket. Wilson will need to have a big game if the Hogs want to upset the Gamecocks on the road.
South Carolina Wins If: The defensive line dominates yet another game. Clowney, Devin Taylor, Chaz Sutton and company will do their best to abuse the Hogs’ offensive line, as teams have done mostly all season. This is arguably the best defensive line in the SEC with the Gamecocks. USC leads the SEC in sacks with 30, good for 7th in the country. Connor Shaw – assuming he’s healthy – will have to have a good game through the air, but if the defensive line can shut down the running game and put pressure on Wilson in the passing game, it should be enough. Even though the Hogs have only yielded 12 sacks all year, it has more to do with a veteran quarterback knowing when to throw the ball away, rather than take the sack. I like the matchup advantage.
Who Has The Edge? Arkansas has dominated this series recently, but with South Carolina’s defensive line play, it has to give them the edge.
South Carolina is going to have to get Mike Davis and Bruce Ellington, along with Kenny Miles, more involved in the running game. We’ll see how the zone read that Connor Shaw runs is affected by not having #21 in the lineup. Will teams key in on Shaw now? I think Shaw will have a big game throwing the football against the 13th pass defense, allowing over 292 yards per game through the air. Shaw took advantage of a terrible Tennessee secondary, and he’ll be looking to do the same against the Hogs.
Photo Credit: Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE