It wasn't unexpected, but the SEC apparently announced Arkansas would be dropping its annual series with South Carolina in favor of Missouri beginning in 2014. I have mixed feelings about this. It's cool that Arkansas is getting an SEC opponent within an easy drive from Northwest Arkansas, and with whom Arkansas shares natural animosity. On the other hand, even though it was never the most hyped game on Arkansas' schedule, the USC series produced a lot of classic moments.
It wasn't all glory. Columbia was the site of the infamous Mitch Mustain interception that resulted in his benching. Casey Dick threw one of the ugliest picks in Arkansas history there in 2008, resulting in a fat guy pick 6. Of course, in 2012, Ace Sanders teased fans with a couple of personal foul penalties just before returning a pick 6, and Jadeveon Clowney had some fun with Tyler Wilson.
But let it be known that South Carolina never beat an Arkansas team that finished better than 6-6.
It seems like today is a good time to remember many of those moments. I'll never forget seeing the SportsCenter screen showing Madre Hill's 72-ish touchdowns against the Gamecocks back in the mid 90s.
There are a couple of fun games I couldn't find video for. In 1999, Arkansas hosted the Gamecocks in Lou Holtz's return to Arkansas. That was the only real storyline. The game was a blowout as Holtz was just beginning to revive that program, but fans had a great time beating up on Lou as he could do nothing but watch his helpless team get destroyed.
And in 2003 the two schools played on a Thursday night in Little Rock. The game wasn't particularly memorable, but Arkansas won 28-14. I remember this game mostly because it was on a Thursday while I was in college and some friends skipped school to tailgate on the golf course. Always fun.
4. 2011. Both teams were in the top 10 and Arkansas had high hopes that it could end the year strong with a showdown against #1 LSU. They did, although the showdown didn't go so well. But that Carolina game was a ton of fun. It started off with Dennis Johnson's kick return:
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And then Arkansas created a ton of other highlights throughout the rest of the game. Jake Bequette's hit on Connor Shaw remains a classic.
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/GNiFh5bytqM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
3. The entire 2010 game. Both teams were highly ranked and the Hogs absolutely destroyed Carolina in Columbia. Knile Davis ran wild. Ryan Mallett did what he wanted. But the best part was Bobby Petrino going full bulldog jaw and chewing out the refs for not ruling this a fumble.
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/N0lVzIp_fkM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
This was the victory that really launched the Sugar Bowl campaign.
2. Carlos Hall blocks a field goal against the #9 Gamecocks to pull off the upset in 2001 (A little over 7 minutes into the clip). Look how young Houston Nutt used to be! He hadn't quite been completely taken over by ape-shit-itis.
Arkansas vs. South Carolina 2001 (via tWARMACHINE2013)
1. Darren McFadden, 2006 & 2007. He's still running. (80 yard run a little after 7:40 mark I believe)
Arkansas vs. South Carolina 2007: Run DMC (via tWARMACHINE2013)
Darren McFadden vs South Carolina.wmv (via Tyler Gilbert)
Farewell, forced rivalry, we'll miss you.