With all due respect to Les Miles, over the last few years, the Arkansas game has been the place where South Carolina's dreams go to die. Even as South Carolina was winning 20 games in two seasons for the first time in more than a century of playing football, the Gamecocks could not figure out the Razorbacks. In fact, since winning at home by four points in 2005, South Carolina had defeated Arkansas once in their annual series.
Until Saturday. Beating an Arkansas team that has collapsed in epic fashion while South Carolina is fighting to get to double-digit wins for the second consecutive season is not going to go down as one of the great victories in Gamecock history. But, in a very real psychological sense, it makes a little bit of a difference.
Not that it was an overwhelming win, whatever the scoreboard says. Arkansas gained two more first downs than South Carolina (22-20) and was only outgained by 23 yards. The Razorbacks turned the ball over three times, once on a fumble that killed a promising scoring drive and another through an interception that was returned for a touchdown. That's not to take away from the double-digit margin of victory for South Carolina, just to point out that it could have been a much closer game.
Which is cold comfort for the Razorbacks. They travel to Starkville next week before wrapping up with the season-ending battle against LSU. Barring a minor miracle, Arkansas is unlikely to win both of those games, meaning that John L. Smith's single series in Fayetteville is equally unlikely to end with a bowl berth.
So South Carolina still will not have defeated an Arkansas team with a winning record when the season is over. You have to think that the Gamecocks don't mind much. The remainder of their dreams for this year, including longshot hopes of a BCS bowl berth, are still on track after the Arkansas game. For South Carolina, the details aren't that important.