FAYETTEVILLE -- For most of their annual SEC clashes from 1992 to 2013 the Arkansas vs. South Carolina game could have been called the Barometer Bowl.
For both the game's winner and loser, the outcome mostly reflected which team posted a winning season and advanced to a bowl and which team nursed a losing season staying home.
Another Barometer Bowl likely looms Saturday when the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville's Razorbacks and the Gamecocks meet in Columbia, S.C.
Fellow newcomers to the SEC in 1992, Arkansas and South Carolina were annual SEC West vs. SEC East game rivals with the team's other cross division opponents rotating on the schedule until 2014.
That's when the SEC adjusted the schedule after the 2012 admission of Missouri and Texas A&M. Missouri replaced South Carolina as Arkansas' permanent SEC East cross rivalry while Texas A&M replaced Arkansas as South Carolina's permanent SEC West rival.
Neither program -- the Razorbacks were 3-7-1 and 5-5-1 while beating South Carolina both years in their 1992 SEC debut under interim Coach Joe Kines and 1993 under Danny Ford, and South Carolina, 5-6 both years -- arrived equipped consistently to succeed in the SEC in 1992 and '93.
But in 1994, with a 7-5 Gamecocks team advancing to beat West Virginia in the Carquest Bowl after beating Ford's 4-7 stay at home Hogs, a pattern was set.
Ford's 1995 Razorbacks won the SEC West starting with beating the 4-6-1 Gamecocks, but his 4-7 teams lost to South Carolina in 1996 and '97 that also stayed home at 6-5 and 5-6.
Ever after, except when Lou Holtz's 6-5 2004 Gamecocks stayed home because of a season-ending brawl closing against Clemson, the Arkansas vs. South Carolina winner went bowling.
During Houston Nutt's 10 Arkansas years, his Hogs went 7-3 against South Carolina. Nutt's 2000 team that lost in Columbia, S.C., eked 6-5 into the Las Vegas Bowl and lost to UNLV. Bobby Petrino went 3-1 against South Carolina, with his 2008 debut losing and staying home for the holidays but his 2009-2011 winners advancing to the Liberty, Sugar and Cotton Bowls.
The Gamecocks beat John L. Smith's 4-8 Razorbacks in 2012 and routed what Bret Bielema's 3-9 overall and 0-8 in the SEC Razorbacks inherited from Smith in 2013.
Of the Gamecocks' nine teams that beat the Razorbacks in their SEC series, seven went to bowl games as did the 7-6, 9-5 and 11-2 Gamecocks losing to Arkansas from 2009-11.
Given their respective 1-2 and 0-1 SEC starts, each losing by seven in heartbreakers against Texas A&M these last two Saturdays, Saturday's loser in Columbia could well be sullenly home for the holidays instead of bowling.
Little wonder that Bielema was so quick last Saturday to move on from Arkansas' 42-24 nonconference victory over New Mexico State.
"Nobody's more important now than South Carolina," Bielema said.
Sports on 10/02/2017
Print Headline: 'Barometer Bowl' pits Arkansas vs. South Carolina