FAYETTEVILLE — At 9 a.m., exactly two hours before Saturday’s scheduled kickoff, the Arkansas Razorbacks arrived at the stadium.
Traffic came to a standstill and crowds gathered to watch the home team enter the stadium
Each player was in a suit, part of a preseason deal with Dillard’s, most of them dark blue.
The game faces were firmly in place. There are no laughs. No smile. No horseplay.
It was almost time to get to work, and the No. 16-ranked Razorbacks weren’t taking upset South Carolina lightly.
The Hog chip was in its place, on their shoulders.
Their only real mistakes in the first half were penalties, but they missed 72 yards.
It was something that hurt in the second half and could have cost them the game, but they settled down and the game wasn’t as close as the 44-30 score might indicate.
The Razorbacks scored on their first three possessions on three drives, two by Raheim Sanders, and they led 21-9. The only time they didn’t score in the first half was a missed 50-yard field goal.
It was clear the Gamecocks had to do something in the second half to stop the Arkansas rushing attack, which had accounted for 126 of the Hogs 241 total yards.
They threw everything but the bench at the Hogs and managed to stop them on their first two possessions. But on this day, it would not be sustainable.
Midway through the third quarter, South Carolina drove 88 yards, highlighted by a 63-yard touchdown pass, to cut the deficit to 21-16.
That made the raucous crowd even louder, but the Hogs punched back and the Gamecocks took over at 19 … but not for long.
Bumper Pool sacked Spencer Rattler for a 15-yard loss on third down.
Minutes later, Pool would have a Hog Heaven moment.
In a game at South Carolina, Arkansas was called for holding and took over at its own 41 instead of the Gamecocks’ 48.
Sanders carried three times for 12 yards and then had a 46-yard run to the South Carolina 1. Flag. Holding, Arkansas.
The Razorbacks didn’t panic, didn’t abandon their game plan and put together a two-pass drive.
South Carolina tried to put something together, but Hudson Clark fumbled and after four straight Arkansas runs, the Gamecocks were caught flat-footed when KJ Jefferson hit Warren Thompson in the back of the end zone for another touchdown and a 35-point lead. -16.
The Rattler was then picked off in the end zone by Dwight McGlothern and the Hogs punted on the ground but went three and away.
On first down, the Rattlers went 64 yards and three plays later it was 35-24 with 6:25 to play. The visitors, who never gave up, tried an onside kick.
Pool, a linebacker who is part of the good hands team, picked it up and was in full swing returning it to the 9. Two plays later, AJ Green scored a touchdown and the only thing missing on the day the job was someone who turned off the lights.
On the day, Jefferson completed 18 of 21 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown, but the Razorbacks were never going to be Air Arkansas against the Gamecocks.
From day one, the plan was run, run, run and then run some more.
The Razorbacks rushed 65 times for 297 yards and 5 touchdowns.
They owned time of possession by nearly 10 minutes, which was a critical part of their game plan.
It was definitely an improvement in every aspect from game one to two, apart from the penalties.
This wasn’t Alabama, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Auburn or even LSU at Reynolds Razorback Stadium — and against those teams, no one can afford to shoot themselves in the foot.