FACTS & STATS: Site: Commonwealth Stadium (67,606) — Lexington, Kentucky.
Television: SEC Network. Home Record: South Carolina 2-2, UK 3-0. Away Record:
South Carolina 1-0, UK 0-1. Neutral Record: South Carolina 0-0, UK 0-0.
Conference Record: South Carolina 2-2, UK 1-1. Series Record: South Carolina
GAME NOTES: After getting ousted from the likes of the nationally ranked, the
South Carolina Gamecocks will try to get back on the winning track on Saturday
night in an SEC road matchup with the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth
After a season-opening loss to Texas A&M (52-28), South Carolina worked its
way up the ranks with three straight victories but fell from No. 13 to
unranked following a 21-20 loss at home to Missouri last Saturday. The
Gamecocks surrendered 14 unanswered points over the final seven minutes to
fall to 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the league.
South Carolina is unranked in the AP Poll for the first time in the last 69
At 3-1, Kentucky has already surpassed its win total from a forgettable 2013
campaign (2-10). The upstart Wildcats rebounded from a tough Sept. 13 loss at
Florida (36-30 in triple overtime) to take care of business at home versus
Vanderbilt last weekend, 17-7, to improve to 3-0 at home.
South Carolina holds a 17-7-1 advantage in the all-time series with Kentucky.
The Gamecocks have won three straight in the series and squeaked out a victory
in Columbia last season, 35-28.
The Gamecocks’ offense has been stellar this season, putting up 33.4 ppg and
421.6 ypg, but the unit let the team down in their most recent loss by
amassing just 338 yards and going 8-of-21 on third down.
Dylan Thompson was sacked four times versus Missouri but is still in the midst
of a strong campaign, completing 60.9 percent of his passes for 1,358 yards
with 14 touchdowns (two rushing) and just three interceptions.
Mike Davis is a workhorse in the backfield, turning 80 carries into 368 yards
and three touchdowns. Brandon Wilds also earns plenty of work with 248 yards
and a score on 48 touches.
Thompson’s most trusted receiving targets are Pharoh Cooper (24 receptions,
296 yards) and Nick Jones (22 receptions, 331 yards), who have three
South Carolina’s disappointing defense (33.0 ppg, 440.0 ypg) has fallen well
short of expectations, and while the unit performed well for most of the
Missouri game in allowing just 280 yards, it could not step up down the
stretch in yielding two long touchdown drives.
Skai Moore has registered a team-high 32 tackles and a sack. Gerald Dixon has
5.0 TFL and 2.0 sacks and T.J. Gurley (29 tackles) has an interception, one of
just four takeaways for the defense.
Kentucky’s offense has been much improved this season, as the Wildcats score
31.5 ppg and net 473.0 ypg, and in the win over Vanderbilt last weekend UK
controlled possession for more than 38 minutes.
Patrick Towles leads the attack from under center by completing 62.2 percent
of his passes for 1,117 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions. He’s
also a threat with his legs, rushing for 114 yards and two scores.
The Wildcats have a balanced running game in which five players have at least
99 yards. Braylon Heard (217 yards, two TDs) is the leading rusher despite
having just 29 carries (7.5 ypc).
Ryan Timmons has emerged as the top receiving option with 20 receptions for
246 yards and a touchdown, although 15 players have registered at least one
The biggest reason for Kentucky’s early season success has been the play of
its defense. After a dominant performance against Vanderbilt in which the unit
allowed just 139 yards and eight first downs, it now allows just 15.0 ppg and
Josh Forrest (26 tackles, 3.0 TFL) and Khalid Henderson (24 tackles, two FR)
have played very well at linebacker. Other defensive standouts include A.J.
Stamps (20 tackles, two INTs), J.D. Harmon (17 tackles, two FF), Jason Hatcher
(4.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks) and Regie Meant (2.0 sacks).
The Wildcats are trending upward while the Gamecocks are reeling after a tough
loss, and playing in Lexington will certainly give Kentucky another leg up.
However, expect Steve Spurrier to get South Carolina in line in time for this
matchup and back in the hunt for the SEC Eastern Division crown.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Carolina 28, Kentucky 20