The number 17-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks (6-2, 3-2 in the SEC) travel to face the number 18-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks (6-2, 4-2) in an SEC showdown Saturday night (7:00 pm ET) in Columbia, SC. The Razorbacks were victorious by a score of 33-16 in last year’s meeting in Fayetteville, and have won 3 out of the last 4 meetings between the two teams. Arkansas is also coming off of a 49-14 dismantling of Vanderbilt at home last week, while South Carolina downed Tennessee at home by a score of 38-24. South Carolina will clinch its first trip to the SEC title game with a win Saturday and a Florida loss to Vanderbilt.
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The Arkansas offensive attack is led by quarterback Ryan Mallett, who has already accumulated 2,449 passing yards to go with 18 touchdowns and & interceptions and an outstanding 66.4% completion percentage on the season. The South Carolina defense allows an average of 259.9 yard per game through the air, the worst in the SEC, and will have their hands full with Mallett who threw for a school-record 409 yards and 3 TDs in the win last week over Vanderbilt. Mallett will have to make do without his top receiver Greg Childs, who led the team with 46 receptions for 659 yards, for the rest of the season after he suffered a patella injury last week. The Gamecock’s ability to stop the Arkansas passing attack will be a big key to victory in this game. They will need to generate a strong pass rush from their front four, including Melvin Ingram and Devin Taylor, who have combines for 12.5 sacks.
On offense South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia has been inconsistent this season, and Coach Steve Spurrier will look to run the ball against Arkansas with freshman running back Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore ranks third in the SEC with 11 touchdowns on the ground this season, and ran for a season-high 184 yards last week against Tennessee. This would be a departure in style for a Spurrier-coached team, as he is known for throwing the ball all over the field, but the goal is to keep Mallett and company off the field as much as possible. In last year’s meeting Garcia did throw for 327 yards against Arkansas with one TD and one INT, so it may not be all ball-control for the Gamecocks.
Arkansas is 7-1 ATS in their last 8 conference games, and 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games against a team with a winning record. The Gamecocks are 6-2 in their last 8 games ATS when playing a team with a winning record. In head-to-head play, Arkansas is 7-2 ATS in the last 9 meetings between the two teams.
Arkansas vs. South Carolina Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Arkansas Razorbacks +4.5
@ South Carolina Gamecocks -4.5
Over 59 (110)
Under 59 (110)
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Arkansas vs. South Carolina Betting Predictions:
Spread Prediction (Top Play) – Arkansas possess an explosive offense that matches up well with the South Carolina secondary, if the Gamecocks cannot generate consistent pressure on Mallett then he will have a field day. Look for Mallett to throw early and often, even without Childs in the lineup as he has a more than capable stable of receivers to throw to. Arkansas may be able to catch South Carolina looking ahead to their next opponent Florida and take advantage by stealing a win on the road. Take the Razorbacks and the points here as Spurrier will not be able to stick to his ball-control plan if Arkansas jumps out to an early lead and he is forced to go to the air with mistake-prone QB Stephen Garcia as his trigger man.
Over/Under Prediction – Take the under here, as Mallett and company will not be held down even on the road, but Spurrier’s ball-control plan will be in effect just long enough to keep the scoring under the total. Look for South Carolina to put up most of their points in the second half when they abandon the running game and Garcia takes to the air. It will likely be a case of too little too late and Arkansas will hang on in a relatively low-scoring game.