It's been a busy week so I'll have to keep this preview short. This is the first time the Gamecocks face their old cross-division rival since 2013, when SC laid a 52-7 beatdown on the Razorbacks in Bret Bielema's first season as head coach. Arkansas leads the series 13-9. Here's some thoughts:
- Arkansas enters the game at 2-2, and hasn't won a game against Power 5 competition yet. Their two losses have come against TCU and Texas A&M (in overtime). The current line has Arkansas favored by 3.
- Bielema has moved Arkansas' defense to a 3-4 this year from a 4-3. This will be the first 3-4 defense Carolina has faced so far this year, which could give the offensive line trouble (that is to say, trouble in addition to the loss of 3 of the top 6 linemen to injury).
- On Offense, Arkansas is a downhill running team, and is one of the few teams remaining in college football to feature heavy use a fullback. This could be an issue given the depth at DL and LB for the Gamecocks.
- Austin Allen was expected to be one of the best QBs in the conference this year, and so far his stats are very close to those of Bentley's.
- David Williams will be making his return to Williams-Brice for the final time, but will be wearing away whites. He's currently 3rd on the team in rushing and tied for the team lead with 4 TDs. Respect to Muschamp for not restricting Williams' transfer (the fact that coaches have the power to do this is ridiculous and is a major issue in college football). Having Williams on the opposing sideline certainly can't help the Gamecocks' chances in this game, but Muschamp has certainly demonstrated that he really is a players' coach by his actions in this situation.
I think both of these teams have a lot of issues on each side of the ball, and in my opinion this one is pretty much a pick-em. Given my well established homer status and the fact that the game will be played in Columbia, I'm giving the edge to the Gamecocks. Prediction: USC 24 - Arkansas 21