COLUMBIA — Looking for a buzz in college football this weekend? Maybe it’s not this Southeastern Conference showdown.
No. 8 Arkansas and No. 10 South Carolina both need a win Saturday simply to stay afloat in their divisions. They have leaned on one side of their teams to mask major flaws with the other and will all but be tuned out after 45 minutes of action when most fans flip over to the conference’s No. 1 vs. 2 showcase between Louisiana State University and Alabama.
Arkansas (7-1, 3-1) has the league’s best passing game yet its 10th best defense. The Gamecocks (7-1, 5-1) are third behind LSU and Alabama defensively, but have managed only 28 points the past two games.
“I guess you could just say there’s a bunch of teams that have got a lot more problems than we have,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. “We’ve got some problems, but everybody’s got some problems.”
One of the biggest drawbacks for this game is the timing. Kickoff is less than an hour before LSU and Alabama begin the latest “Game of the Century” in Tuscaloosa and most college football fans will most likely get their Gamecock-Razorback updates during commercials or in-game alerts.
That’s not to discount South Carolina-Arkansas as both those teams remain in the hunt for the SEC Championship.
“I think there are a lot of people who recognize this as a huge game with a lot riding on it,” said Todd Blackledge, the ESPN analyst calling the broadcast.
There’s plenty at stake.
South Carolina’s easiest path back to the Georgia Dome for a second consecutive year is to win out. The Gamecocks are tied with Georgia for the SEC Eastern Division lead and hold the edge with their 45-42 win over the Bulldogs in Athens back on Sept. 10.
Arkansas’ hopes for the Western Division also include winning its remaining games and getting help, starting with an LSU win over Alabama. The Razorbacks then get the chance to knock off the Tigers when the team’s meet Nov. 25. The Razorbacks would also need another loss by the Crimson Tide, since they would lose in any two-way tie with Alabama.