COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Looking for a buzz in college football this weekend? Maybe it's not this Southeastern Conference showdown.
No. 8 Arkansas and No. 10 South Carolina both need a win Saturday simply to stay afloat in their divisions. They have leaned on one side of their teams to mask major flaws with the other and will all but be tuned out after 45 minutes of action when most fans flip over to the conference's No. 1 vs. 2 showcase between LSU and Alabama.
Arkansas (7-1, 3-1 SEC) has the league's best passing game yet its 10th best defense. The Gamecocks (7-1, 5-1) are third behind LSU and Alabama defensively, but have managed just 28 points the past two games.
"I guess you could just say there's a bunch of teams that have got a lot more problems than we have," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. "We've got some problems, but everybody's got some problems."
One of the biggest drawbacks for this game is the timing. Kickoff is less than an hour before LSU and Alabama begin the latest "Game of the Century" in Tuscaloosa, and most college football fans will most likely get their Gamecock-Razorback updates during commercials or in-game alerts.
Even players and coaches from Arkansas and South Carolina are excited about LSU-Alabama.
"That will be a game to keep your eyes open for," Arkansas kicker Zach Hocker said.
That's not to discount South Carolina-Arkansas as both those teams remain in the hunt for the SEC championship.
"I think there are a lot of people who recognize this as a huge game with a lot riding on it," said Todd Blackledge, the ESPN analyst calling the broadcast.
There's plenty at stake for both teams, even some BCS implications.
South Carolina's easiest path back to the Georgia Dome for a second straight year is to win out. The Gamecocks are tied with Georgia for the SEC Eastern Division lead and hold the edge with their 45-42 win over the Bulldogs in Athens back on Sept. 10.
Arkansas' hopes for the Western Division also include winning its remaining games and getting help, starting with an LSU win over Alabama. The Razorbacks then get the chance to knock off the Tigers when the teams meet Nov. 25. The Razorbacks would also need another loss by the Crimson Tide, who defeated them 38-14 back in September, since they would lose in any two-way tie with Alabama.
"They can talk about Alabama-LSU as much as they want. Just depending on how things play out, we're still in a good seat right now," Arkansas receiver Jarius Wright said.
Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino wants his team focused on nothing else but the Gamecocks.
"For us" he said, "it is a huge matchup and a great game to have here in Fayetteville."
Or maybe not.
South Carolina has won its past six games on its opponents' home field, a school first, and has gutted out tight wins in its last two games at Mississippi State and Tennessee despite struggling on offense.
The Gamecocks' season changed last month with the dismissal of fifth-year quarterback Stephen Garcia and the season-ending knee injury to Marcus Lattimore, who'd led the SEC in rushing most of the season until getting hurt against Mississippi State.
South Carolina's offense hadn't looked that great at times with two experienced skill players in the lineup and has slowed even more since their departures. Sophomore Connor Shaw has thrown for 242 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions the past two weeks. Lattimore's replacement, freshman Brandon Wilds, was fifth on the depth chart when the season began. He was the SEC's freshman of the week after rushing for 137 yards to help defeat Tennessee.
What's kept South Carolina winning is an offense that's statistically stronger than everyone in the SEC except Alabama and LSU. The Gamecocks have allowed only 17 points a game and lead the league with 16 interceptions. Safety D.J. Swearinger had interceptions down the stretch to seal both victories at Mississippi State and Tennessee.
"This is a do or die game and we've got to accomplish most of our goals," Swearinger said.
Spurrier has tried to uncork South Carolina's passing game all season, but now takes pride in his team's tough-nosed approach to success -- it's second in rushing offense.
"If you can run the ball and play defense the way we have done lately, you'll have a chance to win some low-scoring games and that's what's happened for us," Spurrier said.
It's a different story for Arkansas, where quarterback Tyler Wilson and a high-flying offense have bailed out the defense several times this season.
Wilson threw for 510 yards and two touchdowns as the Razorbacks came back from 18 points down to defeat Texas A&M 42-38. They trailed Auburn early before rallying past the defending national champions 38-14. Ole Miss was ahead 17-0 two games ago and Wilson pushed the Hogs through again with 29 consecutive points in a 29-24 victory.
And then last week, down at Vanderbilt 28-17 with little more than a quarter left, Arkansas squeaked through again by scoring the final 14 points to escape with a 31-28 victory.
Razorbacks guard Grant Cook said it doesn't matter how you win, as long as you do and the attention will follow.
"The more wins you get, the more games mean. This game's huge, not just because it's top 10, but because it's another SEC game that we're trying to go out and win," he said.
AP Sports Writer Kurt Voigt from Little Rock, Ark., contributed to this report.