South Alabama (6-4) at South Carolina (5-5) (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250) — Columbia, South
Carolina. Television: FSN. Home Record: South Alabama 3-2, South Carolina 3-3.
Away Record: South Alabama 3-2, South Carolina 2-2. Neutral Record: South
Alabama 0-0, South Carolina 0-0. Conference Record: South Alabama 5-3, South
Carolina 3-5. Series Record: First-ever meeting.

GAME NOTES: The Sun Belt Conference meets the SEC at Williams-Brice Stadium on
Saturday afternoon, as the South Alabama Jaguars pay a visit to the South
Carolina Gamecocks.

South Alabama rebounded from back-to-back losses to start November by
capturing a 24-20 victory over Texas State last Saturday to move to 6-4
overall, becoming bowl eligible. The Jaguars have closed out their Sun Belt
schedule with five wins in eight tries.

South Carolina has been one of the nation’s biggest disappointments this
season. After starting the campaign ranked No. 9, it is still not bowl
eligible after 10 games (5-5). The Gamecocks had been losers of four of their
previous five games before getting back on the winning track with a 23-20
overtime win at Florida last Saturday to finish 3-5 in the SEC.

This marks the first-ever meeting between the programs.

The Jaguars’ offense hasn’t been very good this season, as they put up just
21.3 ppg and 376.9 ypg, but the unit found new life last week with a change
under center.

In his first-career start taking the place of an injured Brandon Bridge,
Hunter Vaughn completed 20-of-28 passes for 182 yards with a touchdown and an
interception, while also catching a 28-yard touchdown on a trick play in the
victory. Bridge is questionable to return this week, but even if he’s healthy
the squad will likely stick with Vaughn under center.

Shavarez Smith is the team’s leading receiver in terms of catches (39), yards
(552) and touchdowns (six). Braedon Bowman emerged as Vaughn’s top target last
week with four receptions for 81 yards.

The running game is anchored by Kendall Houston (518 yards, TD) and Xavier
Johnson (383 yards, TD), now that Jay Jones (393 yards, three TDs) is out for
the year with a knee injury.

The main reason South Alabama finds itself bowl eligible has been the strong
play of the defense, which gives up just 23.1 ppg and 380.2 ypg.

Terrell Brigham is the team’s leading tackler with 83 to go with a forced
fumble and two fumble recoveries. Theo Rich has generated a strong pass-rush
with 11.0 TFL and 7.0 sacks. Montell Garner (46 tackles) is the leader in the
secondary with two interceptions and another eight pass breakups.

The Gamecocks’ struggles this year have come in spite of an outstanding
offense, which puts up 34.6 ppg and 461.7 ypg.

Dylan Thompson went without a touchdown in regulation last week but sealed the
victory in overtime with a 4-yard rushing score. Thompson has been stellar
this season, completing greater than 60 percent of his passes for 279.4 ypg
with 25 touchdowns (three rushing) and 10 interceptions.

Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds both scored rushing touchdowns in the win over
Florida. Davis is the bell cow, turning 173 carries into 895 yards and nine
touchdowns, while Wilds (83 carries, 479 yards, four TDs) is used as a change-
of-pace back.

Thompson’s go-to receiver is Pharoh Cooper, who’s hauled in 55 passes for 826
yards and eight touchdowns. Nick Jones (35 receptions, 433 yards, four TDs)
has also been solid.

South Carolina’s defense has been vulnerable all season long, yielding 32.7
ppg and 442.3 ypg, although the unit stepped up its play last week by allowing
just 278 yards to Florida.

T.J. Gurley (63 tackles, INT), Skai Moore (63 tackles) and Brison Williams
(two INTs) have been standout performers on an otherwise underachieving

South Alabama has had a nice season, but the last time it ventured out of
conference it lost at home to Mississippi State, 35-3. This Gamecocks’ squad
certainly isn’t as good as MSU, but they are still much more talented than the
Jaguars and should give the home fans something to cheer about.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Carolina 38, South Alabama 17