NO. 12 SOUTH CAROLINA 38, ARKANSAS 20
WELCOME TO MY JUNGLE: A buddy of mine, who regularly wears orange (I'll leave it at that), talked to me about D.J. Swearinger a few weeks ago. He said, while shaking his head, "He's the guy that you love him, if he plays for your team. Everybody else can't stand him." I think that's accurate - many seem to have it in for Swearinger, who plays with so much fierce emotion that it often translates to recklessness and rebelliousness, but South Carolina is feeling mighty nice that Swearinger broke off a commitment to Tennessee four years ago to stay home. The Jungle Boi had the play of the game, and at the precise right moment for him and the Gamecocks - he'd just gotten whistled for two straight personal fouls, which had Lorenzo Ward on edge, and USC was giving up chunks of yardage with only a 24-10 lead. No biggie - Swearinger jumped a route, stepped in front of a Tyler Wilson pass and was off to the races, where he promptly earned a third personal foul by launching the ball into the stands. Hey, it was excusable, especially with the ensuing kickoff doing no damage, and it seemed to be a blatant pose for the officials - whistle me again, Stripes, and you'll get more of the same. At least he had sense enough to wait until he scored before celebrating - Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson high-stepped too early on Saturday and had points wiped off the board.
And how perfect is it that Swearinger also had 13 tackles, all after posting a photo of himself earlier this week, that showed him watching game film while GETTING A PEDICURE????? How can you not love this guy?
TRACK 31: USC's run-blocking was again not pleasant, yet Kenny Miles wormed through for 37 yards on 14 carries and caught three passes for 44 yards. He would have scored on one run had not a lunging Arkansas tackler tripped him at the last second. The Gamecocks needed to see that nobody would be nervous about replacing Marcus Lattimore, and that Miles could fill in for the second straight year. It wasn't explosive, but it got the job done - one of the game's other big plays was Miles picking up a last-second block to spring Connor Shaw for a rushing touchdown.
JADEVEON'ED: Jadeveon Clowney "only" had one sack, but what a sack. He broke through, grabbed Wilson around the neck and slammed him to the turf. Wilson may be having nightmares for months, and the guys assigned to block him all game may be sucking their thumbs for the next year. Clowney can disrupt so well that Arkansas had a specific play-call for him - "When he was at three technique, they started hollering, 'Clowney left! Clowney left!,'" Ward said. He still got his sack, and now stands a half-sack away from tying the school single-season record (Andrew Provence and Melvin Ingram). Players like this one don't come along too often.
WELL KISS MY GRITS: An SEC official called holding. Those Mayans were right about the world ending.
FOR ALL: My, Justice Cunningham is turning himself into an NFL prospect. He's not just the big sturdy blocker anymore, he's becoming Shaw's first and second option. He made another sensational catch on a bad throw - he was expecting it over one shoulder, saw it was going to be tough, but somehow turned around, dove and caught it all while being hampered by a defender. Then he got up and did the rock-God pose over the poor guy. Yes, the defender knows very well where Pageland is, thank you for asking.
RAMBO: Don't look now, but USC has found a serviceable, even a good, kicker. Senior Adam Yates, who made a name for himself by wearing a torn-up workout shirt tied around his head last year like in a rather violent '80s movie, knocked a 41-yard field goal and although he missed one from 52, he put four of his kickoffs into the end zone. That's about as good as it gets around here.
YOU WILL GET HURT: Arkansas allowed 12 sacks in its first nine games. USC collected four on Saturday, three in the first half. Next?
CAN YOU TRY SOCCER?: Ho-hum. Bruce Ellington had his second straight 100-yard receiving game, and straight-up punked Arkansas on one route. He sat back because he knew the safety was about to cover him if he went downfield, just long enough for Shaw to escape contain, then cut loose. He got behind, caught a wide-open pass, then broke ankles just like he does on the basketball court with a nasty crossover to score untouched. All right, dammit, I apologize, again, for saying he'd never make an impact on the field. Geez, rub it in …
DID YOU SEE THAT?: It seemed as if all Akeem Auguste was good for was filling a spot on the injury report. The guy could get hurt if he wore mattresses wrapped around his entire body. Yet he broke up a third-down touchdown pass, and then hauled in his first career interception by continuing to run after an overthrown ball. He deserved it.
NICE: USC has completed back-to-back six-win SEC seasons. Last year was the first time the Gamecocks won six. By comparison, it took USC four entire seasons, plus the first game of the fifth season, to get its first 12 SEC wins.
RIP IT UP: Whatever that play is that has Damiere Byrd running the end-around, toss it. I mean, burn it, collect the ashes and bury it with a dishrag under a full moon, hoping that it will cure warts. It does not work. It will not work. The blocking is not there for it to work, and Byrd can't find a hole and get through it to work. He's made some big plays this year, but he's also not made enough to keep the "track star playing football" tag on him.
DON'T GIMME SOME SUGAR: Alabama's loss to Texas A&M on Saturday likely means the end for USC's Sugar Bowl hopes. There are three undefeated teams in the country now, so it stands to reason that if two finish undefeated, they'll play each other in the BCS National Championship Game. That means the winner of the SEC Championship Game goes to the Sugar, and the loser likely has two losses and is in a heap of two-loss SEC teams. There is a possibility of an at-large BCS bid, I suppose, but there are some other one-loss teams in the country that merit that consideration. The key now is hoping for USC to win out, and not get the Cotton Bowl. While that would be prestigious, it's far away, against probably a really good opponent. Stay close to home (Atlanta, Jacksonville, Tampa) and beat an ACC or Big Ten team. Hey, the Gamecocks had their chance - they didn't take it.
OK, NOW: USC needs to run the ball to be successful. It will be hard to do without Lattimore, but even harder without decent run-blocking. It hasn't been there all year, and it continues to not be there. With Shaw affected by a gimpy foot - he admitted that the pain flared at times but he played through it - his running ability is dented. USC has two games left and if it can run the ball, it wants to. Whatever needs to be done - and I mean up to and including taking a 2x4 to the D-lineman - do it.