FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Even Steve Spurrier felt badly about ruining Arkansas’ homecoming fun – at least a little bit.
The South Carolina coach, however, wasn’t about to complain about a complete-game effort in a 52-7 win over the Razorbacks on Saturday.
Led by Connor Shaw’s four touchdowns, the No. 14 Gamecocks (5-1, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) won their fourth consecutive game after a loss to Georgia on Sept. 7. They did so in convincing fashion, scoring the game’s final 52 points and ensuring they didn’t let a big lead slip away for a fourth week in a row.
The margin of victory was South Carolina’s largest on the road under Spurrier, who earned his first win at Arkansas (3-4, 0-3) since 2005 – his first season with the Gamecocks.
“I do feel badly for Arkansas,” Spurrier said. “It’s no fun getting your butt beat like this, at home on homecoming and all that.”
All-American defensive end Jadeveon Clowney returned for South Carolina after missing last week’s game against Kentucky. He finished with just one tackle, though Shaw and running back Mike Davis more than picked up any slack.
Shaw was 19 of 28 for 219 yards and three touchdowns, running for another score as the Gamecocks outgained the Razorbacks 537-248.
“We knew going into this stretch it was going to be a tough three weeks in the SEC, starting with Arkansas,” Shaw said, whose team began a three-game road trip that includes Tennessee next week and undefeated Missouri after that.. “We knew we had to have a tough mentality, playing on the road, and we really didn’t have that here two years ago. So we wanted to come in here and make a statement.”
Davis, the SEC’s leading rusher, added 128 yards on 19 carries.
The loss is the fourth straight for Arkansas, matching first-year coach Bret Bielema’s longest losing streak of his career.
The former Wisconsin coach dropped four in a row while with the Badgers in 2008, but none were worse than Saturday’s 45-point defeat.
The Razorbacks are 0-3 in the SEC for the first time since 2007.
“Today is a day that you have to put it in the memory bank and vow that you’ll never let it happen again as a head coach, as an assistant coach, a coordinator and a player,” Bielema said.
“Just unacceptable,” he added.
Arkansas’ Brandon Allen was just 4 of 12 for 30 yards, throwing a first-half interception that led to Davis’ touchdown run.
The lone highlight for the Razorbacks was a 6-yard touchdown run by Alex Collins on the game’s opening drive, putting them up 7-0. Little else went right after that – including a sequence late in the first half that crushed any hope Arkansas might have had.
After a fake punt by the Razorbacks failed, Shaw led South Carolina to a fourth-and-2 at the Arkansas 7-yard line with 25 seconds left. Rather than try the field goal while ahead 17-7, Spurrier elected to attempt to convert the fourth down.
Shaw did just that, running three yards. After a spike, the senior found Bruce Ellington from 4 yards out for his second touchdown catch of the game – putting South Carolina up 24-7 at halftime.
“We felt like another field goal there wouldn’t look as good as another touchdown,” Spurrier said. “If we don’t get it, I look stupid. I we make this, it makes me look smart.”
Ellington finished with six catches for 96 yards.
The Gamecocks stretched their lead to 31-7 on the opening drive of the second half when Shaw connected with Damiere Byrd for a 45-yard touchdown pass.
Shaw later added a 10-yard TD run for his fourth score of the game.
After Arkansas opened the game with a seven-play, 64-yard touchdown drive, the Razorbacks had just one first down the rest of the half. They went three-and-out on their last four possessions, and their only other drive with a first down ended when Allen threw an interception to South Carolina’s Victor Hampton.
Davis scored one play later on a 6-yard touchdown run to give the Gamecocks a 10-3 lead, and that was just the start of the fun <0x2014> at least for South Carolina.
Bielema’s previous worst loss was a 48-7 defeat to Penn State in 2008. Arkansas travels to No. 1 Alabama next week.
“It was very frustrating,” Allen said. “A lot of things didn’t go right. A lot of things weren’t clicking. Any time that happens, it’s frustrating as an offense, and as a whole team.”