The Capital One Bowl Game of the Week is a preview of a pivotal matchup featuring teams from the Big Ten and/or SEC that could impact the bowl picture.
#18 Arkansas (6-2, 3-2 SEC) at #19 South Carolina (6-2, 4-2 SEC)
Saturday, Nov. 6 ï¿½- 7:00 p.m.
Williams Brice Stadium – Colum (ESPN)
Arkansasleads the series, 11-7
Last Meeting: Nov. 17,2009 (Arkansas 33, South Carolina 16)
Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett has totaled 2,449 yards with 18 touchdowns and earned SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors last week after throwing for a school-record 409 yards and three touchdowns against Vanderbilt. Mallett leads an offense that is No. 2 in the nation and No. 1 in the SEC in passing, averaging 360.2 yards per game. Mallett did, however, lose top playmaker Greg Childs for the season. Childs has a team high 46 catches, 659 yards and six touchdowns. Even though Arkansas is a pass-first team, it still has talent in the backfield in running back Knile Davis who leads the team with 522 yards and six touchdowns.
Arkansas is No. 2 in the SEC and No. 11 in the nation in passing defense, holding teams to only 167.8 yards per game. It is also second in the SEC and seventh in nation with an average of 3.0 sacks per game. The Razorbacks do, however, give up 163.1 yards per game rushing and are last against conference opponents, allowing 199.6 yards per game.
South Carolina Outlook
Running Back Marcus Lattimore has rushed for 13 touchdowns this season, tying him for the most freshman rushing touchdowns in South Carolina history. He needs just four more to break the single-season South Carolina record and is within 126 yards of the freshman running record (848) set by Thomas Dendy in 1982. Stephen Garcia is third among SEC quarterbacks in total offense, averaging 238.0 yards per game with 13 touchdowns. Garciaï¿½s main target is wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who leads all SEC receivers with seven touchdowns and averages 18.3 yards per reception. The Gamecock offense has scored 27 out of the 33 times it has reached the red zone and leads the SEC with a third down conversion rate of 54.1%.
The Gamecocks have the top pass-rush defense in the league and are second in the nation with 3.75 sacks. They also are No. 1 in the SEC and No. 7 in the NCAA in tackles for loss (7.88). South Carolina has the best rushing defense in the league as well, allowing only 3.0 yards per carry and 100.1 yards per game. The Gamecock passing defense, however, gives up 259.9 yards per game which is last in the SEC and has given up 300+ yards through in the air in three out of its last four games.
Impact on Bowl Picture
Two teams have a shot at the SEC East Championship, South Carolina and Florida. A South Carolina win and a Florida (5-3, 3-3 SEC) loss to Vanderbilt (2-6, 1-4 SEC) would clinch the division for the Gamecocks. If both teams win this weekend, the South Carolina/Florida game in Gainesville on Nov. 13 would be for an appearance in Atlanta. An Arkansas win would help it with bowl position in a crowded West division.
South Carolina has been ranked among the nationï¿½s top 25 for nine consecutive weeks which is the schools longest streak since 2001. This is also the seventh-straight season that the Gamecocks have finished above .500, which ties the schools best stretch of non-losing seasons (1928-34). Arkansas and South Carolina have met every year since both teams joined the SEC and Arkansas has won three of the last four meetings.
PICK: South Carolina