It’s the first matchup between the two programs since the 2017 season. There’s promise that this one could be a good one since both are on the uptick. That’s after both previous regimes nearly killed the programs.
Arkansas and South Carolina came entered the Southeastern Conference and were immediately cross-divisional rivals. Both teams seemed to have a natural rivalry at that due to the fact they entered the conference at the same time. However, the SEC thought better and ruined a pretty solid series.
The Razorbacks lead the all-time series 13-10 with the Gamecocks winning the previous three matchups by an average of 29-points. Those wins did come from the 2012, 2013 and 2017 season which were a part of Arkansas’ worst stretch in program history. Not to discredit South Carolina since they were a heck of a program under Steve Spurrier and early on with Will Muschamp.
Usually, this matchup would tell each team where they were in terms of positioning in the SEC. Think about the rebound Arkansas had when they upset South Carolina while ranked ninth in Little Rock. Carlos Hall blocked a field goal late in the fourth quarter to seal and Arkansas victory.
How about the 2005 game where both teams were back and forth defensively? Darren McFadden was stopped shy of the first down marker on fourth-and-one on a drive that would’ve put Arkansas ahead.
2006 was another classic when McFadden torched the Gamecock defense for 219 yards and 2 touchdowns rushing.
I continue #BeatSouthCarolina week with another classic performance by Darren McFadden! Man, did he love playing the Gamecocks?— Jacob Davis (@JacobScottDavis) September 7, 2022
2005: 187 yards rushing
2006: 219 yards rushing and 2 TDs
2007: 321 yards rushing and 1 TD rushing pic.twitter.com/jFDnb3QTx7
We all remember the 2007 game when McFadden had his Heisman moment rushing for 321 yards and a touchdowns. While also passing for a touchdown in a 48-36 victory in Fayetteville on senior night.
2011 was also a solid game, too, where South Carolina kept it close before the Hogs separated themselves in the fourth quarter. That included a memorable hit by Jake Bequette on Gamecock quarterback great Connor Shaw.
Continuing on with #BeatSouthCarolina week is @JakeBequette91 completely destroying Connor Shaw!— Jacob Davis (@JacobScottDavis) September 8, 2022
Jake had a huge game that night with four tackles, 3 sacks and one forced fumble. #wps pic.twitter.com/JpljuWwwnZ
Everyone wants to talk about how Spencer Rattler is a top five or ten quarterback in the country. He played well last week considering how bad his offensive line played. If he can continue being accurate on the run he can prove his doubters wrong.
Obviously, Arkansas is the home team and KJ Jefferson is out to prove he can lead his team to a huge victory at home to begin conference play. He threw for over 220 yards and rushed for an additional 68 yards last week against Cincinnati. Also, the Razorback start accumulated four touchdowns last week, too.
You have to side with the guy that’s proven he can get it done in the toughest conference in the country.
Running back: ARKANSAS
Rocket Sanders rushed the ball very well in week one. Can he do it again this week against a Gamecock defense that allowed 200 yards rushing last week?
South Carolina rushed for 102 yards last week. They also have a trio of running backs including a potential highlight reel guy in Marshawn Lloyd. He did struggle last week with 30 yards and 2.7 yards per carry.
Wide Receiver: PUSH
Jalen Brooks will play a factor offensively for the Gamecocks. He had a breakout game last week against Georgia State reeling in four passes for 88 yards.
Junior receiver , Antwane Wells had 55 yards on seven receptions last week in his first action for USC.
Arkansas looks to have a pretty solid passing game with receivers like Jadon Haselwood, Matt Landers and tight end Trey Knox. The trio combined for 12 of Jefferson’s 18 completions against the Bearcats.
Pittman said that there were multiple plays last week where Jefferson had a man open deep but opted for the check down throw instead. With the speed and height that the Hogs boasts could be a problem on Saturday.
Offensive Line: ARKANSAS
Arkansas’ offensive line didn’t particularly move the Bearcat defense off the line until late in the fourth quarter. The Hogs MO is to win at the line of scrimmage. Pittman and his offensive line coach, Cody Kennedy will have their guys ready this week to spring in to action and prove themselves.
South Carolina’s line was forcing Rattler to run for his life against Georgia State. That’s been a common theme for the program dating back to Muschamp’s days as head coach.
Defensive Line: ARKANSAS
Arkansas should have the edge in this one with the state of their opponent’s offensive line. Jordan Domineck, Landon Jackson, Zach Williams and Eric Gregory were very active last weekend.
The Pool-Sanders Law Firm is open for business and ready to wreck offenses that depend on the run.
Look, the Gamecocks gave up five yards a carry against a G5 team last week. Arkansas rushed for 224 yards against a G5 team fresh off a playoff appearance.
The Gamecocks have a ways to go but they can improve.
Arkansas only allowed 113 yards against a team that averaged 179 last season. Under Barry Odom, he’s really been great at dialing up performances in a way that blots out an opponents strength each week.
Defensive Back: SOUTH CAROLINA
The Gamecocks were the second best team against the pass last season allowing 178.2 yards per game.
They played the pass fairly well last week but Georgia State is a run-focused program.
Arkansas surrendered 300+ yards passing last week to the Bearcats while losing starters Jalen Catalon and Myles Slusher in the process.
The Razorbacks have recruited well and added pieces out of the transfer portal. Jayden Johnson and Latavious Brini are going to be a pair that will be heavily depended on.
Special Teams: SOUTH CAROLINA
The Gamecocks blocked a couple of punts that led to touchdowns last week. If it weren’t for those, their game would’ve gone to overtime.
South Carolina punter, Kai Kroeger, had a terrific week when he booted a 79-yard punt. That alone earned him Ray Guy National Punter of the Week.
Their punt returner, Josh Vann averaged 33 yards on three returns.
That doesn’t mean they can’t be a difference maker against Arkansas. The Razorbacks had solid punt protection last week against Cincinnati.
The Hogs do have Cam Little, a terrific sophomore kicker who is still perfect on his career on extra point attempts. Little converted his only attempt against the Bearcats from 32-yards.
At punter, there’s still an ongoing audition it seems between senior, Reid Bauer and true freshman, Max Fletcher. Both are talented but how long will they share starting duties?
AJ Green returned one kick last week but it started a near disaster when he didn’t make it past their own 15 yard line.
Arkansas seems to hold the edge in the majority of categories. On the other hand, South Carolina proved they can score on special teams and that’s dangerous in its own right.
THE EDGE: ARKANSAS