The Arkansas Razorbacks (7-1, 4-0 SEC) travel to Columbia, SC to take on the University of South Carolina Gamecocks (5-3, 3-2 SEC) at Williams-Brice Stadium in a nationally televised game on ESPN. Arkansas is in search of its first SEC Conference crown and BCS berth, as the only SEC team without a league loss while South Carolina is looking for enough wins to become bowl eligible.
A high-powered offense and a solid defense have the No. 12 Arkansas Razorbacks sitting atop the SEC West, and their two-headed monster at running back has left SEC defenses filled with questions so far this season.
Arkansas has the fourth-best scoring offense in the conference, and it is fueled by running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. McFadden, Jones, and the rest of the backs lead the conference in rushing offense with 235.4 rushing yards per game, over 70 more yards a game than second place Auburn.
Carolina's defense gives up 137.2 rushing yards per game, ninth in the SEC, but has improved from last season's 174.2 yards per game. Last year's version of the defense relied on safety Ko Simpson to be just as much of a run stopper as a pass stopper, and defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix believes this year's defensive front is up to the challenge.
Last season, McFadden netted 187 yards on the ground against the Gamecocks, but the defense was able to keep him out of the end zone in route to the 14-10 win. South Carolina defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix said he sees things playing out the same way in this week's game.
"If they don't score, they don't win," Nix said. "They drove the ball up and down the field, and we made a stand right before halftime. I don't think they got close after that. We're going to have to tackle well and play our responsibilities. We're going to take the same approach we do every week."
Leading the Gamecocks offense in 2006 is senior quarterback Svelle Newton. In eight games this season, Newton has accounted for 16 touchdowns. He is 88 of 143 passing for 1,240 yards, 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He’s rushed 79 times for 315 yards and three touchdowns, and has 11 receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown.
The Razorbacks, only favored by a –2-point chalk, are not getting much respect from odds makers even after covering three straight games two of those as double digit favorites. Arkansas has proven itself as a road warrior in its 27-10 win at then No.2 Auburn on Oct.7 covering +13.5 ATS. The Hogs might be the best team in the SEC with their high-powered running attack and stingy defense. The Gamecocks have not defeated a ranked opponent this season and don’t expect it to happen Saturday.