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Carolina Gamecocks vs. Arkansas Razorbacks Pick.
No. 18 Arkansas Razorbacks (6-2, 5-3 ATS) at No. 19 South Carolina Gamecocks (6-2, 4-4 ATS), Week 10 NCAA Football, Saturday November 6th, 7:00PM Eastern Williams-Brice Stadium Columbia, SC
By Jay Horne, Professional Sports Handicapper of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: Ark+3/USC +3
Over/Under Total: 58
Two high powered SEC offenses will collide inside Williams-Brice Stadium this Saturday night in a battle of top 25 teams when the no. 19 South Carolina Gamecocks welcome the no. 18 Arkansas Razorbacks. The Razorbacks thus far this year have been one of the most dangerous passing teams in the nation averaging a lucrative 360 yards per game. The Razorbacks have posted 35 points on average this season and they will put their potent offense to the test again this weekend on the road in South Carolina. The Gamecocks have their first chance in school history at making a SEC Championship appearance if they can win at Florida in two weeks, but they first have to take care of business with the visiting Razorbacks.
The Gamecocks offense is not any stranger to posting points on the scoreboard averaging 30 points per game. QB Stephen Garcia is the 2nd rated passer in the SEC behind Arkansas’s Ryan Mallett. Garcia has exceeded expectations this season completing 70.6% for 1,906 yards with 13 touchdowns and 7 picks. One of Garcia’s biggest targets is perhaps the best wide receiver in the SEC in sophomore WR Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery leads the SEC in yards per game by a landslide with 116 receiving yards on average. In the last two weeks, Jeffery has put the game out of reach with two different touchdown plays that were both over 70 yards. Jeffery is simply a big time player that deserves a ton of attention from the Razorbacks secondary.
Outside of the passing attack, the Gamecocks have another sensational football player in freshman Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore is 2nd in the SEC in rushing with 722 yards and he is simply a nightmare to bring down. Coach Steve Spurrier has an unprecedented reputation for throwing the football, but Lattimore has proved to be the biggest success to the offenses breakout season in the SEC. Considering how quickly the Arkansas offense can put up points, it would not be surprising to see the Gamecocks ride Lattimore throughout this game in hopes to keeping the Razorbacks offense sidelined.
One of the big concerns for the Gamecocks entering this game is their pass defense which has been simply horrible ranking 105th in the country allowing 259 yards per game. The secondary was burned by a struggling Tennessee offense last week on many occasions and that is not a good indicator for the Gamecocks considering the Razorbacks will bring one of the best passing offenses in the nation to Williams-Brice this Saturday night. On the flip side, the Gamecocks are extremely talented along the defensive line and get to the quarterback extremely well. The Gamecocks rank 2nd in the country averaging 3.75 sacks per game. South Carolina recorded 5 sacks in last week’s 38-24 victory over Tennessee and there were two big sacks in that game that resulted into turnovers in favor of the Gamecocks. South Carolina will desperately need a similar effort from the defensive front to help out their struggling secondary again this week.
The Razorbacks offense took a hit last week when they lost WR Greg Childs for the season with a patellar tendon injury. Childs led the team with 46 catches for 659 yards and 6 touchdowns on the season. However, the Razorbacks have some solid talent to pick up the slack in the passing game. Wide outs Joe Adams and Jarius Wright are both averaging over 17 yards per reception while combining for just less than 1,000 yards thus far this season. QB Ryan Mallett is a front runner in the Heisman Trohpy race and he will have no problem exploiting the Gamecock pass defense if he is not under pressure. Mallett has completed 66% on the season with 18 scores and just 7 picks. In both of South Carolina’s losses this season the defense has worn down late in ball games. Therefore, Mallett could really put the defense on their heels if he can get the passing game rolling and keep it rolling throughout the game.
Jay’s pick to cover the spread: I think this is a trap game for the Gamecocks. They have a big meeting with Florida on the horizon for an SEC Championship appearance and this game has little value. For that reason I do not expect the team to come out firing on all cylinders and Arkansas will take advantage and get the victory. Take the Razorbacks +3.