Gamecocks looking to get into bowl game

Published: Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.


At a glance

  • What: No. 12 Arkansas at South Carolina
  • When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
  • TV: ESPN

  • COLUMBIA, S.C. - In one week, South Carolina went from having an outside shot at the Southeastern Conference title game to just wanting to become bowl eligible.
    Before the 31-24 loss to No. 8 Tennessee last Saturday, hopes were still high in Gamecock country. Now, with three out of four Top 20 teams left on the schedule, South Carolina (5-3, 3-3 SEC) is just hoping for at least one more win to reach its postseason goal.
    This week, No. 12 Arkansas (7-1, 4-0) stands in the way.
    "Sometimes in the back of your mind, if it were to happen that you start winning some games you have to believe that you have a chance," coach Steve Spurrier said of the title game. "Now we know that's gone and we just go play football, try to win us a ball game."
    Winning hasn't been easy for the Gamecocks at home against ranked opponents. Georgia, Auburn and Tennessee have all come into Williams-Brice Stadium highly touted and left with the win.
    Following Arkansas, South Carolina faces No. 7 Florida in Gainesville, Middle Tennessee in Columbia and 19th-ranked Clemson at Death Valley.
    "The season will be a disappointment if we don't win six games and go to a bowl," Spurrier said. "I have to tell myself all the time to show a little bit of patience and I'm trying to."
    That might be difficult because the Gamecocks had the same record last year entering the game against the Razorbacks, but momentum was on South Carolina's side then. The Gamecocks had just beaten Tennessee and after a 14-10 victory over Arkansas, South Carolina beat Florida to finish the season at 7-5.
    The ball coach said this year's team just isn't catching the breaks it did last season.
    "The other teams are not fumbling to us and they're not throwing interceptions and they're not getting touchdowns called back like they did last year," Spurrier said.
    "They're not dropping passes. They're playing better."
    That includes the Razorbacks, who have arguably the most talented backfield in the SEC. Darren McFadden and Felix Jones have averaged 185 yards rushing a game this season, second in the nation behind the West Virginia duo of Steve Slaton and quarterback Patrick White.
    McFadden torched the Gamecocks for 187 yards rushing a year ago - the total offensive output for South Carolina. But the Gamecocks allowed just one touchdown and narrowly escaped with a victory, their second straight over Arkansas. The Razorbacks had won three consecutive games before 2004. They lead the series overall 8-6.
    "Arkansas will attempt more runs than Tennessee I believe," Spurrier said. "Hopefully we can get them attempting passes and cover them. But we've got to play run defense this week."
    Defensive end Ryan Brown knows it's going to be a tough challenge.
    "Everybody this whole year has been trying to stop their running game," said Brown, a redshirt junior. "We're just going to basically prepare for the run."
    Arkansas leads the SEC with 235.4 yards rushing a game while South Carolina is allowing 137.2 yards, which ranks ninth in the league.
    Linebacker Cody Wells said the Gamecocks need the win.
    "We've had a good chance against a lot of these SEC teams," Wells said. "Hopefully, things will go our way and we'll have some lucky breaks."
    Even with the ball bouncing the right way, the question remains of whether the Gamecocks can beat a ranked team.
    "We're capable, certainly, but until we do it, that's all we are is capable," Spurrier said.


    Notes: South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said quarterback Syvelle Newton was scheduled to practice Tuesday after being held out Monday. "Syvelle had a slight, I don't know if it's a concussion, he got hit pretty hard in the head," the ball coach said. "At halftime, he just sort of had a headache. But he was OK. ... We think he's going to be fine." ... Also, center Chris White was held out of Monday's practice but was scheduled to participate Tuesday. White also had headaches after Saturday's game.

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