When Bret Bielema left the solid program at Wisconsin that he helped maintain after Barry Alvarez ascended to the athletic director chair to take the reins at Arkansas, he didn't know what he was going to face when he came to Razorback land.
Of course Arkansas had gone through a situation that would've made a soap opera writer pea green with envy, what with the Bobby Petrino deal, then John L. Smith coming in and things fell apart like a house of cards.
His Badgers won Big 12 titles and went to bowl games. He came to Fayetteville with the bravado akin to a swashbuckling pirate. He wanted to bring Big 12 style football to the Southeastern Conference.
Through seven games now, Bielema is finding out quickly that coaching in the SEC is night and day compared to the Big 12. He found out in recent weeks when Texas A&M and Florida put up double-digit victories against his club.
Saturday, the Razorbacks hosted the South Carolina Gamecocks for Homecoming, and Steve Spurrier's club didn't play like a homecoming visitor. In fact, it seemed the other way around as South Carolina, the No. 14 ranked team in the country, blasted the Razorbacks 52-7.
Hard to believe, but the Razorbacks lead through most of the first quarter. In fact, they won the toss and elected to receive to start the game. They scored the first points of the game on a six-yard run by running back Alex Collins to give UA a 7-0 following a successful point after touchdown kick by Zack Hocker. The Razorbacks held the Gamecocks to a field goal on the next possession. And Hog fans were thinking things could be looking up for them on this Homecoming day.
But hold the phone and everything else. When Mike Davis scored on a five-yard touchdown run--this coming after Brandon Allen's pass was picked off by USC's Victor Hampton and returned 21 yards to the UA 5--the Gamecocks took a 10-7 lead and never looked back.
In fact, they would add two touchdowns apiece in the second, third and fourth quarters, mixing in the run and pass effectively. Why even Pharoh Cooper, a receiver, lined up in the wildcat set and rushed for 45 yards on four attempts. Connor Shaw was back at quarterback for South Carolina and had a good game, throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for 56 yards on 14 carries.
But the day belonged to Davis as he rushed for 134 yards on 19 carries, for his fourth 100-yard rushing game this season. Backup quarterbacks Dylan Thompson and Brenda Nosovitch also got involved in scoring. Nosovitch had a seven-yard touchdown run and Thompson threw a 15-yard scoring pass to Kane Whitehurst.
No doubt "The Head Ball Coach" was utilizing many available weapons in his arsenal.
South Carolina finished with 537 yards of offense, including 277 yards rushing. Although the Gamecocks's JaDeveon Clowney started today after sitting out last week against KEntucky, he had one tackle in the game.
Putting up yards and points is nothing new to the visor-wearing Spurrier. The 52 points are the most a South Carolina team coached by Spurrier has scored on the road.
Arkansas had as many as five freshmen playing today, and that may bode well for Bielema and his staff down the road.
South Carolina now has a chance to have a say in how things go in the Eastern Division of the SEC, what with Georgia losing at home to Missouri by 15. They travel to Big Orange country next week to take on the Tennessee Volunteers.
As for Arkansas, it's back to the proverbia drawing board, or something akin to it. Their task is much tougher as they travel to Tuscaloosa, ala. next Saturday to take on the defending national champs, the Alabama Crimson Tide.