South Carolina-Arkansas battle as top-10 teams
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS (7-1)
at ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS (7-1)
Kickoff: Saturday, 7:15 p.m. EDT
Line: Arkansas -5, Total: 53
Two red-hot SEC teams collide when No. 10 South Carolina brings a three-game win streak into Fayetteville to face No. 8 Arkansas, which has four consecutive victories.
South Carolina’s defense has been very stingy, allowing just 37 points in its past five games (7.4 PPG), thanks in part to 17 forced turnovers. But the Cocks haven’t faced an offense quite like Arkansas. The Razorbacks are averaging 35.0 PPG during their win streak, as QB Tyler Wilson is throwing for 330 YPG with nine total touchdowns during the run. The Hogs have had little trouble scoring against South Carolina in the past five meetings, putting up 33.8 PPG and going 4-1 (SU and ATS). And without injured star RB Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina is struggling to move the football, scoring just 28 points in the past two games. The Hogs are 16-2 (12-5 ATS) at home over the past three seasons and should have no trouble covering this spread. The pick here is ARKANSAS.
This pair of three-star FoxSheets trends also support the Razorbacks:
Play On - Home favorites (ARKANSAS) - off a road win against a conference rival against opponent off 3 straight wins against conference rivals. (43-15 over the last 10 seasons.) (74.1%, +26.5 units. Rating = 3*).
Play Against - Underdogs of 3.5 to 10 points (SOUTH CAROLINA) - off 2 straight wins against conference rivals, a top-level team (>=80%) playing a team with a winning record. (31-8 over the last 5 seasons.) (79.5%, +22.2 units. Rating = 3*).
Gamecocks freshman RB Brandon Wilds did a nice job filling in for Lattimore last week, rushing for 137 yards in a 14-3 win at Tennessee. He also caught three passes for 31 more yards. Sophomore QB Connor Shaw has played pretty well since replacing the dismissed Stephen Garcia, connecting on 56-of-85 passes (66%) for 6 TD and 3 INT in the past three games. Shaw has also rushed for 134 yards in these three outings. The fluctuating QB position has not helped star WR Alshon Jeffery though. After a season of 88 catches for 1,517 yards in 2010, Jeffery has just 33 grabs for 468 yards in eight games this year. In the past two games, he has gained a meager 41 yards on eight receptions. Although, Jeffery has enjoyed success against Arkansas, catching 12 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown in two career meetings.
South Carolina ranks third in the nation in passing defense (136 YPG) and sixth in total defense (266 YPG). Much of that has to do with constant pressure from a defensive line featuring senior Melvin Ingram (5.5 sacks, 9 TFL) and freshman Jadeveon Clowney (5 sacks, 7 TFL).
Wilson continues to mature into one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC. He has not thrown an interception in any of the past four games, spanning 158 pass attempts. Senior WR Jarius Wright has been the brightest star of a talented receiving corps with 709 receiving yards and 7 TD in seven games this season. Junior Cobi Hamilton has disappeared lately, with just three receptions in the past three games, but he lit up South Carolina last year for 111 yards on seven catches and a touchdown. The Hogs have not been the same powerful rushing attack this season, which is understandable because of the preseason injury to All-American candidate Knile Davis. But RBs Dennis Johnson (6.4 YPC) and Ronnie Wingo Jr. (4.4 YPC) have been serviceable, helping the team rush for 151 YPG in the past three contests.
Defensively, Arkansas has given up chunks of yardage (396 YPG, 71st in nation), but it has allowed only 22.5 PPG. Nobody on the Hogs defense has surpassed two sacks on the year, but senior LB Jerry Franklin has 9.5 TFL. His 68 tackles rank fourth in the SEC and he ran back a fumble 94 yards for a touchdown in last week’s win at Vanderbilt.