Hogs Vs. South Carolina
ON THE GROUND
The Hogs got a boost when freshman Peyton Hillis (178 total yards, 6 touchdowns) returned to action against Georgia. Hillis only got a handful of snaps, but should help the SEC's fourth-best ground game (179.3 yards per game) today.
Quarterback Matt Jones also is close to 100 percent after struggling with groin and hamstring injuries and leads the Hogs in rushing (388 yards). DeCori Birmingham (333 yards) has struggled lately and junior De'Arrius Howard didn't record a carry against Georgia. Kyle Dickerson led Arkansas with 38 rushing yards last time out.
South Carolina coach Lou Holtz complimented tailback Demetris Summers after his 10-carry, 95-yard outing against Tennessee. Summers leads the Gamecocks with 359 yards and backup Cory Boyd has chipped in 260 and 3 touchdowns.
Quarterbacks Dondrial Pinkins and Syvelle Newton are dangerous and have combined for 347 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns. South Carolina is fifth in the SEC in rushing (179 yards).
THROUGH THE AIR
Jones remains among the top passing quarterbacks in the SEC despite the injuries. The senior leads the conference in total offense (264 yards), is third in passing (208.6 yards) and fifth in efficiency (142.6 rating).
Marcus Monk is tied for the team lead in catches (21), is second in yards (347) and first in touchdowns (5). Steven Harris (21-449-3) was slowed by a knee injury against Georgia, but is close to full speed. Cedric Washington and Chris Baker have combined for 19 catches, 361 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Pinkins missed three games with a partially torn rotator cuff, but completed 30 of 42 passes for a career-high 306 yards against Tennessee. Both Pinkins and Newton will play and have thrown for 1,623 yards and 8 touchdowns with 7 interceptions.
Lightning-quick Troy Williamson leads South Carolina with 33 catches, 729 yards and 6 touchdowns. Boyd is second (27-258) and Noah Whiteside third (16-236). Andrea Gause caught 6 passes for 66 yards and a touchdown against the Vols.
IN THE TRENCHES
ADVANTAGE: SOUTH CAROLINA
South Carolina freshman Marque Hall will earn his first start at defensive tackle in place of Darrell Shropshire. Georgia Gause (28 tackles, 4 sacks), Moe Thompson (17 tackles, 2 sacks), Rodriques Wilson (46 tackles) and Marcus Lawrence (45 tackles) lead a defense that was stingy during the Gamecocks' 4-1 start.
Tackles Jabari Levey and Na'Shan Goddard anchor South Carolina's offensive line, which returned four starters. Guard Jonathan Alston has been banged up, but started all eight games. Center John Strickland has seven starts.
Jeb Huckeba grabbed attention with his 12-tackle, 3-sack performance against Georgia, but must cope with a broken hand today. The Hogs also got stellar play from Marcus Harrison, Jeremy Harrell and Arrion Dixon against the Bulldogs.
The offensive line has been hit with injuries, but left tackle Tony Ugoh returns after missing the Georgia game because of a kidney stone. Redshirt freshman Robert Felton recorded nine knockdown blocks in his place and will earn time at right tackle along with Matt Gilbow. Center Kyle Roper has suffered from back spasms this week.
ADVANTAGE: SOUTH CAROLINA
South Carolina's Josh Brown is sixth in the SEC in scoring among kickers, making 19 of 19 extra points and 10 of 13 field goals. But the junior missed a 37-yard field goal that would've given the Gamecocks an 11-0 lead against the Vols. Brown also handles punting duties and is eighth in the SEC, averaging 39.9 yards per attempt.
Williamson averages 26.2 yards on his four kickoff returns, but 13 of South Carolina's 27 chances to return kickoffs have been touchbacks. Whiteside averages 8.5 yards on punt returns, including a season-best 43-yarder.
Arkansas has attempted an SEC-low four field goals and place-kicker Chris Balseiro missed a 24-yard attempt against Georgia. The junior is 2 of 4 and 27 of 28 on extra points. Freshman punter Jeremy Davis is averaging 38.7 yards per attempt.
Washington is fourth in the SEC in kickoff returns (18.9 yards), while Birmingham averages 6 yards on punt returns. But Arkansas still is searching for big plays in the return game.
The Razorbacks benefited from a well-timed bye week, exiting the forgettable month of October with a three-game losing streak and several key injuries. But the Hogs had time to lick wounds, rest banged-up players like Jones, Harris, Hillis and tight end Jared Hicks and should be close to full strength against South Carolina.
It also helps that Arkansas is used to playing with its back against the wall in November, winning nine of its past 10 games in the final month of the season. The Razorbacks also have dominated this series, winning five of the six meetings under coach Houston Nutt and have claimed the past three by a combined score of 61-13. Holtz is 1-4 against Arkansas.
The Gamecocks have plenty of incentive, celebrating Senior Day for 23 players that'll play in front of the home crowd for the final time. But home hasn't been a happy place for South Carolina. The Gamecocks are 0-3 at Williams-Brice Stadium in SEC play and hope to avoid their first winless conference home schedule since 1999.
ARKANSAS 21, SOUTH CAROLINA 19
Arkansas hasn't won a game since beating Alabama 27-10 on Sept. 25, a five-week stretch that includes three losses to Top-25 opponents and two bye weeks. The Hogs desperately need the long drought to end in today's pivotal game that could launch another November run or extend the losing streak to four games.
South Carolina also is chasing a sixth win that has been painfully elusive the past two seasons. The Gamecocks reached the five-win mark in 2002 and 2003, but are a woeful 0-10 when attempting to claim their sixth victory. South Carolina hasn't gone to a bowl game since the 2001 season.
Holtz and Nutt have proven to be master motivators throughout their careers and both teams will likely turn in admirable performances today. The Razorbacks pitched a shutout during their last trip to Columbia (23-0 in 2002), but won't be so lucky today. If the defense holds firm, a healthy Jones should provide just enough on offense to lead the Hogs to a win.
THE KEY MATCHUP
QB Matt Jones (6-foot-6, 237 pounds senior) vs. QB Dondrial Pinkins (6-foot-2, 245 pounds senior)
Jones took a week off and believes he'll be close to 100 percent after struggling with injuries. The senior put together efficient passing performances against South Carolina the last two seasons, but also must make plays with his feet today.
Pinkins came back from a shoulder injury and showed no signs of rust against the Vols, completing 30 of 42 passes for a career-high 306 yards. He'll share time with Syvelle Newton, but needs a similar outing to help the Gamecocks secure their sixth win.
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