Arkansas and South Carolina will meet up this Saturday in a battle between two SEC teams stuck in mediocrity. The Razorbacks and Gamecocks face off at 4:00 EST from Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. The game can be found on the SEC Network.
South Carolina’s season opened as brightly as it could have. First, they beat NC State, a team doing well in the ACC. Then they won their SEC opener against a Missouri team many thought would have progressed this season. Then it all came crashing down for the Gamecocks.
They lost to Kentucky at home, are without their best player in WR Deebo Samuel, and barely escaped Louisiana Tech only to lose to Texas A&M.
They’ll look to bounce back with the reliable Jake Bentley at QB and a defense that’s continued to shine bright. Sophomores D.J. Wonnum at DE and T.J. Brunson at LB have stepped up on that side of the ball.
For Arkansas, they’re hoping for improvements from QB Austin Allen. He shows potential to be one of the conference’s best quarterbacks, but has been average so far and threw a big interception to lose two weeks ago to the Aggies.
His running game has helped him out, but they’ll have to be more balanced and see improvement from the once-dependable o-line. Arkansas comes in as slight favorites of 2 ½ points.
Both of these teams endured close losses to Texas A&M in consecutive weeks, so we have quite a bit to draw from. But because of close scores and the fact these were two very different games with two teams with dissimilar identities, it’s been hard for Vegas to call.
But the Gamecocks are a team who woke up a bit last week after their near-loss to Louisiana Tech. They’re still an up-and-coming program, while Arkansas is definitely trending down. Not much has gone right for the Razorbacks, and going on the road to a place like Columbia isn’t the ideal place to turn around the ship.
The only time they played a defense as good as South Carolina’s was when they faced off against TCU. We know how that turned out, with them scoring only seven points. They hold possession better than their opponents, so this game will likely be lower-scoring.
But Bentley is, as of now, the better quarterback. He’s done well enough in the wake of losing Samuel, and will face an Arkansas defense who’ve yet to play an arm like his. He still has Bryan Edwards to make key receptions on third down to keep the chains moving. He also has Hayden Hurst at TE, which will create a mismatch for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas will create opportunities for themselves with the run game, but South Carolina has at least kept their opponents under four yards per-carry. The Razorbacks hogs up front aren’t nearly as effective as they used to be. Even if South Carolina can’t get to the quarterback often, they’re improving on filling the running lanes.
An 0-5 mark ATS this season doesn’t help Arkansas out. They’ve continuously underperformed, and that will continue Saturday.