CFN Preview: South Carolina vs. Arkansas
Arkansas (4-5) at South Carolina (6-3), 1 EST GamePlan
Why to watch: South Carolina still has an outside shot at winning the SEC East, but some big breaks need to happen, and there have to be wins over Florida next week and Arkansas this week. Very quietly, the Gamecocks have been able to put together a nice year after winning five of their last six games. The offense continues to be a work in progress, but the defense has done just enough to get by.
Arkansas is coming off a nice win over Tulsa, the first loss of the year for the Golden Hurricane, and needs to win two of its last three games to go bowling. With a road trip to Mississippi State up next and with LSU still to deal with, a win this week could be a must to get a 13th game. The Hogs have ridden the legs of Michael Smith and have played steady, if not dominant defense, to stay alive. Their last four games have been decided by a total of 13 points, while South Carolina has played five games this year decided by a touchdown. This should be close.
Why Arkansas might win: South Carolina has one of the few offensive lines in America that has as hard a time protecting the quarterback as Arkansas does. The Hogs don't have a dominant pass rush, but they have a good enough one to make life difficult for Gamecock QB Stephen Garcia, who might not be all that mobile playing on a banged up knee. The Arkansas special teams aren't special, but the punting game is just good enough to keep the South Carolina offense pinned deep. The Gamecocks aren't equipped to go on long, drawn out drives.
Why South Carolina might win: Michael Smith might be a special back. He leads the SEC in rushing yards per game, but the Arkansas offense mainly works when it's throwing the ball. That plays into the Gamecock strength. Even though star CB Captain Munnerlyn has had problems with a stomach virus, the USC secondary is nasty. Arkansas will have to try to run the ball early, but the pass protection is mediocre and the passing attack isn't consistent enough to penetrate the brick wall of a Gamecock defensive backfield.
Who to watch: Arkansas QB Casey Dick and the Arkansas passing game has deferred a bit to Smith and the ground game throughout the second half of the season, but Dick came to life against Tulsa with 385 yards and a touchdown with an interception. It was his third 300-yard passing day on the year, and the Hogs won all three times. He's unlikely to go over 300 against the South Carolina secondary that allows 144 yards per game, but he needs to be effective and efficient.
What will happen: It'll be a tight, defensive battle with South Carolina coming through because it has the tighter, better defense.
CFN Prediction: South Carolina 24 - Arkansas 17
Line: South Carolina -10
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