South Carolina’s week of preparation for Arkansas proved more stressful than the Razorbacks themselves.
The No. 14 Gamecocks came west trying to leave their Jadeveon Clowney sideshow back home. That didn’t work, but everything else they tried did.
The final result was a dominating 52-7 win for South Carolina, which won its first SEC road game since beating Kentucky 38-17 on Sept. 29, 2012. The manhandling was so thorough — 89 plays and 537 yards for the Gamecocks vs. 37 plays and 248 yards for the Razorbacks — that South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier offered uncharacteristic sympathy on his way out the door.
“I do feel badly for Arkansas,” Spurrier said. “It’s no fun getting your butt beat like this at home, homecoming and all that. They are probably not as strong a team as they were when they were kicking our tails the last three times I have been in here.”
Clowney, who sat out last weekend’s win against Kentucky because of a rib injury, started and played most of the way, but drew most of his attention from an inaccurate comment on ESPN’s College GameDay prior to the game that indicated he didn’t ride on the Gamecocks’ bus to the stadium.
That issue got straightened out by kickoff, though, and it was smooth sailing from there for the Gamecocks, who got 128 yards from tailback Mike Davis and a resurgent performance from their maligned defense.
“We wanted to come out here and make a statement, and I think we did,” said quarterback Connor Shaw, who threw for 219 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 37 and another score.
It was such a good day that things kept going South Carolina’s way after the final whistle. Moments after the Gamecocks finished, Missouri finished a 41-26 upset of Georgia that opened the SEC East race for South Carolina.
“We’re back with a chance,” Spurrier said. “We will see where we can go from here. Now, can we play like this or even close to this when we go to Knoxville next week? That’s the question.”
South Carolina notched its biggest win against Arkansas, its biggest margin of victory on the road since 1912 and its fifth 50-plus point game in Spurrier’s nine seasons.
First-year Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema was not happy.
“I’ll tell you guys exactly what I told our team: Today is a day that you have to put in the memory bank, and vow that you’ll never let it happen again as a head coach, as an assistant coach, as a coordinator, as a player,” Bielema said. “Just unacceptable, apologize to the homecoming crowd.”
Most of them, 66,302 strong when the game began, had filed out of Razorback Stadium before the fourth quarter reached its midway point. Things started well for Arkansas, which took the opening kickoff and marched 64 yards on seven plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 6-yard touchdown run by Alex Collins.
However, South Carolina answered with 52 consecutive points, using four quarterbacks (Shaw, Dylan Thompson, Brendan Nosovitch and Wildcat quarterback Pharoh Cooper) and throwing the ball to nine receivers. The Gamecocks’ 537 yards was their fourth-best total under Spurrier.
“The coaches have been saying they trust us and know what we can do,” offensive lineman A.J. Cann said. “It does feel good to go out and punish a team.”
The Razorbacks’ 37 plays, 13 in the second half, are the fewest run by a South Carolina opponent since at least 1962 (the first year full records are available). The Gamecocks held the ball for 43 minutes, 35 seconds.
Twenty-one Gamecocks had at least one tackle, and freshman linebacker Skai Moore led the way with six. Clowney, who had one tackle, believes the defense rallied around his rough week, he said.
“I told the guys, ‘Everybody is talking about us right now, (about) me, I’m just going to turn up right now,’” he said. “I told them, ‘Let’s all get together and have fun today.’ ”
Ark: A.Collins 6 run (Hocker kick), 12:02.
USC: FG Fry 33, 7:14.
USC: Davis 6 run (Fry kick), 5:12.
USC: Ellington 9 pass from Shaw (Fry kick), 13:40.
USC: Ellington 4 pass from Shaw (Fry kick), :13.
USC: Byrd 45 pass from Shaw (Fry kick), 11:49.
USC: Shaw 10 run (Fry kick), 1:29.
USC: Whitehurst 15 pass from Thompson (Fry kick), 9:18.
USC: Nosovitch 7 run (Fry kick), 1:07.
|Time of Possession||43:25||16:35|
RUSHING: South Carolina, Davis 19-128, Carson 15-56, P.Cooper 4-45, Shaw 14-37, Nosovitch 1-7, Thompson 1-4. Arkansas, Hatcher 2-69, A.Collins 10-69, Williams 6-61, Small 2-16, Walker 2-10, Team 1-(minus 2), N.Holmes 1-(minus 5).
PASSING: South Carolina, Shaw 19-28-0-219, Thompson 4-5-0-38, P.Cooper 1-1-0-3, Team 0-1-0-0. Arkansas, B.Allen 4-12-1-30, Irwin-Hill 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING: South Carolina, Ellington 6-96, Jeffery 5-32, Jones 4-34, Davis 3-4, Byrd 2-57, Whitehurst 1-15, Carson 1-14, Anderson 1-5, K.Smith 1-3. Arkansas, Small 2-4, Herndon 1-20, A.Collins 1-6.