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South Carolina at No. 16 Arkansas: Roundtable predictions

Tough one ahead of the Gamecocks today.

Photo by Charles Brock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Life comes at you fast in the SEC, and the South Carolina Gamecocks are already facing an early test in Week 2, as they hit the road to take on No. 16 Arkansas. The Razorbacks are fresh off a nice win over a then-ranked Cincinnati team, and sport one of the conference’s best quarterbacks in the formidable K.J. Jefferson. Here’s how the GABA gang is feeling about things.

Kody: Well, I’m gonna be honest – I’m not feeling too great about this one. While Cincinnati’s 2022 squad is certainly not the same as the one that participated in the 2021 Playoff, that was nonetheless a great way for Arkansas to start its season and sustain the strong effort it put on the field last year. The old adage says that a team’s most dramatic improvement happens between Week 1 and Week 2, and the Gamecocks better hope that’s the case – although, of course, that adage can apply to the Razorbacks, too. Jefferson terrifies me, as he’s pretty much the Platonic idea of the type of quarterback who destroys South Carolina, and the Hawgs’ rushing attack bothers me too after Georgia State averaged five yards per carry last week. The Arkansas secondary showed some softness, though, and with Spencer Rattler under center, South Carolina may be able to take advantage there. Regardless, I think the Razorbacks are ahead of the schedule that USC is trying to get itself on, and will come away with a 31-21 win. My hope is that the Gamecocks can at least make this a four-quarter game and show some toughness on the road.

Brent: As someone that grew up watching the Gamecocks face Arkansas as their permanent cross-divisional rival, I don’t know how to feel good about going to Fayetteville in any sport. Baum Walker Stadium has not been kind to the baseball team, Bud Walton Arena has not been kind to the basketball team, and Razorback Stadium has been a tough venue for the football team as well. I guess one good thing is this game is not in Little Rock where the Gamecocks are 0-4. Razorback Stadium is a place that the Gamecocks only have three wins as well, sporting a record of 3-4. I still have nightmares of McFadden, Jones, and Hillis running wild on the Gamecocks in 2007. Unfortunately the Razorbacks have a physical monster on their offense once again in quarterback KJ Jefferson. I do believe that the Gamecock offense takes a step forward and looks better than it did last week and Spencer Rattler has a good performance on Saturday. One thing South Carolina cannot afford to do is settle for field goals, they have to score touchdowns. My question is can the Gamecocks get off to a good start on the road? In 2021, the Gamecocks were outscored 63-13 in the first quarter of road games. It will be a long day if that trend continues for the Gamecocks. I will take the Razorbacks in a 35-27 win. But if the Gamecocks are able to find some early success on offense and grab a lead, I believe this is a game that they can win.

Matt: My first impression of this matchup is WOW it sucks to replace Auburn in the rotation with playing Arkansas this season. It takes a possible win off the board that the Gamecocks may end up needing toward the end of the year. Anyway, I would give the Cocks more of a chance to emerge victorious if the game were at home, but they are playing what I view as a superior team in not ideal conditions. The road is a place that has not been kind to South Carolina. The last SEC victory away from Columbia that the Gamecocks achieved, not counting Vanderbilt, was Georgia in 2019. That’s enough to convince me to not take USC in this one, although I will change my mindset when that road victory finally comes. This is South Carolina’s first real test in 2022, and I have them failing it by the score of 31-13. The Arkansas offense led by KJ Jefferson will be too much for the Gamecocks, and I believe the Razorbacks’ front seven will put enough pressure on Rattler to make him uncomfortable all day.

Katie: As usual I’m going to try to balance out the realism negativity provided by the guys. This game will definitely be a challenge for South Carolina given that it’s on the road and Arkansas is, uh, good, but ANY GIVEN SATURDAY, AMIRITE???? If the offense can get things clicking earlier and more consistently than they did last week, that would be a huge help. I don’t think field goals are gonna win this one, even if Mitch Jeter is good from more than 50 yards out, and while two blocked punt scores again would be very cool, even I can’t envision that happening, so we’re gonna need a solid contribution of points from Spencer Rattler and company plus a strong defensive showing against KJ Jefferson and the Arkansas offense. I’m predicting an unexpected victory because that’s what I do here.