Arkansas Razorbacks vs. South Carolina Gamecocks
Date and Time: Saturday, October 7, 2017, 4 p.m. ET
Location: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC
Opening College Football Odds: Arkansas -2
Arkansas vs. South Carolina TV Coverage: SEC Network
You might not know it now, but Jake Bentley is growing up before our eyes in Columbia. Some of the plays that he's making for the Gamecocks have been out of this world, including when he pulled off a bit of a Houdini act against Texas A&M to throw for a touchdown.
Bentley's raw numbers aren't great; he's only completed 62.4 percent of his passes and has nine touchdowns against four interceptions. That said, he's the undisputed leader of this team as just a sophomore, and if Will Muschamp can get some help around him, he could turn into one of the better quarterbacks in this conference.
The Gamecocks, though, still haven't put this all together yet. Their win against N.C State looks awesome now that the Wolfpack have beaten Florida State in Tallahassee, but setbacks against Kentucky and Texas A&M really hurt. Even the 17-16 win over Louisiana Tech would have been a disaster if not for a last-second field goal to win the game.
It almost feels like Bret Bielema is grasping for straws right now in Fayetteville. He's sitting on a particularly hot seat at the moment, and a win over New Mexico State isn't going to help take that pressure off any. With the Hogs playing against Alabama and Auburn next, it's entirely possible that a loss in this game could effectively be Bielema's end.
We're begging to see some maturity out of Austin Allen. He's not asked to do much as a thrower, but he does have to command this offense. He hasn't shown up in big games this year, and it's not surprising to us that his power running game has all sorts of problems when he can't open up the field with the passing game.
Bielema is going to try his best to impose his will in this game on the ground, but that tactic hasn't worked against TCU or Texas A&M this year. In both cases, those big boy teams had the better play in the trenches for the most part, and that's why those games were both lost.
Devwah Whaley, Chase Hayden and David Williams are effectively in a three-way timeshare, and all three are going to get their 8-10 touches per game. None of the three have proven to be all that explosive, though, and that's why no one has emerged from this backfield.
The South Carolina defense is conceding just 3.9 yards per carry this season, and if this defensive line wins the day, there's no reason why the Gamecocks won't put this one in the win column.
Arkansas vs. South Carolina Free Picks
Doesn't this one have the feel of a bit of disrespect for South Carolina? We're not sure what any of the NCAA football sportsbooks are seeing in Arkansas to make it a road favorite against the Gamecocks in this one. The Razorbacks haven't exactly been world beaters with their schedule this season, and this South Carolina team has hung in there against all of its competitors this season.
We know that this game could easily be won by either team, but any time we can get a middling SEC team at home with a couple points against another middling SEC team, we're going to jump at the opportunity.
College Football ATS Pick: South Carolina +2 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: South Carolina 29, Arkansas 24