KICKOFF: Saturday, 7 ET
SITE: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.
SERIES: Arkansas leads l1-7 (last meeting, 2009, Arkansas 33-16)
RECORDS: Arkansas 6-2, 3-2; South Carolina 6-2, 4-2
POLLS: Arkansas (17 AP, 19 USA Today); South Carolina (18 AP, 17 USA Today)
PREDICTION: South Carolina 31, Arkansas 28
KEYS TO THE GAME:
-- For Arkansas: Play turnover-free football to prevent the home crowd from getting rowdy. The Razobacks need to get a good effort out of their offensive line to enable QB Ryan Mallett to do his thing. Linebackers will have to lead the defense in its best tackling game of the season.
-- For South Carolina: Keep giving RB Marcus Lattimore the ball. Success on the ground will give accurate QB Stephen Garcia openings in the passing game, where sophomore WRs Alshon Jeffery and Tori Gurley have caught virtually everything. The defense probably will not be able to stop Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett, but must find a way to slow him down.
SCOUTING THE TEAMS:
-- TB Knile Davis' emergence has helped Arkansas' offense He is tied for seventh in the SEC with six rushing touchdowns, including five in his last two games. Arkansas needed a strong rushing game to emerge, and it was a puzzle early on as to why it hadn't. After all, Arkansas returned a veteran offensive line. QB Ryan Mallett's big passing day against Vanderbilt was due in large part to that strong rushing game forcing defenses to stay honest.
For all the talk about the improved secondary and a star like DE Jake Bequette up front, the strength of the defense is arguably at linebacker. LB Jerico Nelson's seven tackles against Vanderbilt extended the streak of every game this season of Arkansas being led by a linebacker in tackles. LB Jerry Franklin leads the team with 59 tackles and has topped the team in tackling in five of eight games.
Although the offense bogged down at times last week, South Carolina continued to put up big numbers thanks to QB Stephen Garcia and RB Marcus Lattimore. The Gamecocks rushed for 212 yards, thanks to Lattimore's career-best 184, and gained 223 through the air with Garcia going 13-of-22 passing. South Carolina has topped the 400-yard mark in total offense in its last three games, picking up 1,391 yards. It has passed for 960 yards and five touchdowns during that span.
Defensively, the Gamecocks continued to be sensational against the run but pathetic against the pass. They rank 11th nationally in rush defense, allowing 100.1 ypg, but 105th in pass defense (259.9 ypg with 13 touchdown passes). The Gamecocks rank 26th in scoring defense (19.5 ppg), and 59th in total defense (360 ypg).
Razorbacks: Arkansas has its best record after eight games since 2006. ... The Razorbacks have given up just two passing touchdowns in three road games ... Arkansas leads the SEC and is second in the nation in passing production (380.2 ypg). QB Ryan Mallett is throwing for 306.1 ypg. ... The Razorbacks are the only SEC team to top the 400-yard mark in passing this season. They have done it three times (428 at Auburn, 417 vs. Vanderbilt, and 400 vs. Louisiana-Monroe). ... Mallett, a junior, is No. 3 on Arkansas' list for career touchdown passes (48), No. 2 in passing yards (6,073), and No. 5 in completions (397). The respective records are 57, 7,422, and 528, all held by Clint Stoerner. ... The Razorbacks are ninth in the nation in total offense (487.4 ypg). ... Freshman PK Zach Hocker is 34-of-34 on PATs but more important is 8-of-9 on field goals. ... WR Joe Adams is averaging 19.2 yard an attempt on punt returns, second in the SEC and sixth in the country. Adams has made at least one catch in each of the 29 games he has played in. His 18.1 per-catch average is fourth in the nation.
Gamecocks: Freshman RB Marcus Lattimore has 722 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns in seven games for an average of 103.1 ypg. He is coming off a career-best 184 yards rushing against Tennessee, the 15th best single-game performance in Gamecocks history. ... Lattimore is only 126 yards below South Carolina's all-time best for a freshman, set by Thomas Dendy in 1982. Lattimore has 13 overall touchdowns, which not only ties him with Sidney Rice for most by a freshman, but places him three behind Harold Green for most by a Gamecock in a season. ... Sophomore WR Alshon Jeffery ranks fifth nationally in receiving yards (116.88 ypg) and 16th in catches (6.5 per game). He has 52 receptions. ... Junior QB Stephen Garcia ranks fifth nationally in passing efficiency at 167.96. He has completed 137 of 194 attempts (70.6 percent) for 1,904 yards and 13 touchdowns against seven interceptions. ... South Carolina rushed for 212 yards against Tennessee, marking the second time it has topped the 200-yard mark. It rushed for 225 yards in the season opener against Southern Miss. The Gamecocks are averaging 151.9 ypg rushing. ... South Carolina ranks second nationally in sacks with 30 (3.75 per game). Only Florida State with 33 (4.13) ranks higher. ... Sophomore DE Devin Taylor ranks 20th nationally in individual sacks with 6.5, and junior DE-DT Malvin Ingram is 25th with six. ... Starting LB Shaq Wilson, who has missed all but the Auburn game with an injured hamstring, remains out and will be redshirted.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
QB Ryan Mallett -- Another national TV spotlight for the quarterback, who seems healthy. He passed for 409 yards last time out, but can he take advantage of South Carolina and its salty defensive coordinator, Ellis Johnson?
LB Jerry Franklin -- With RB Marcus Lattimore in South Carolina's backfield, and with WR Alshon Jeffrey, one of the nation's top receivers, running routes, tackling in the middle of the defense will be a key. Look for Franklin and company to have a lot heaped on them.
TB Marcus Lattimore -- He played well in his first game back after being injured early in the second half against Kentucky, rushing for a career-best 184 yards against Tennessee. A similar performance will be needed against Arkansas.
QB Stephen Garcia -- He has had a stellar season both as a passer and as an offensive leader. He must continue to play at a high level as the Gamecocks enter the most crucial part of their schedule.
CB Stephon Gilmore -- He has been an outstanding player since enrolling at South Carolina a year ago, but the sophomore has been in a slump during the Gamecocks' last three games. He must step up and play the way he did previously. Gilmore could also get a few snaps as a "Wildcock" quarterback on offense.
WR Greg Childs (knee, out).