Sept. 7, 2007
QUICKLY: The South Carolina Gamecocks (1-0, 0-0 SEC) travel to Athens, Ga. to open up their Southeastern Conference schedule against the #11/12 Georgia Bulldogs (1-0, 0-0 SEC) on Saturday, Sept. 8. The game from Sanford Stadium (92,746) will be nationally televised by ESPN2.
OVER THE AIRWAVES: This is the fourth straight year that this Carolina-Georgia contest has been nationally televised by the ESPN family. Mark Jones will provide the play-by-play for ESPN2 with Bob Davie handling the color commentary. Stacey Dales will work the sidelines. Todd Ellis and Tommy Suggs will once again be in the booth for the Carolina Gamecocks Sports Network, with former Carolina and NFL standout Duce Staley joining the team this season as a sideline reporter. The game can also be heard on SIRIUS satellite radio.
A LITTLE HISTORY: This is the 114th season of college football at the University of South Carolina, dating back to 1892. The University did not field a team in either 1893 or 1906. This is the 101st consecutive year in which USC has competed on the gridiron. Carolina owns an all-time record of 516-517-44. The school’s only conference championship came in the 1969 season when it posted a perfect 6-0 record to win the Atlantic Coast Conference title in Paul Dietzel’s fourth year.
GETTING BACK TO .500: A win this week would lift the Gamecocks back to the .500 level with an all-time record of 517-517-44. The last time Carolina was at .500 was during the 1988 season when they were 467-467-44 following a loss to Vanderbilt. A loss to Tennessee the following week dropped them below .500, where they have remained since.
ABOUT LAST WEEK: The South Carolina Gamecocks opened year three of the Steve Spurrier Era with a hard-fought 28-14 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette last Saturday in Columbia. The Gamecocks looked like they were going to roll up an easy win as they scored on each of their first two possessions. The first drive covered 64 yards in seven plays with Chris Smelley hitting Andy Boyd on a two-yard touchdown pass. After a quick three-and-out, Carolina drove 50 yards in five plays with Tommy Beecher hitting Kenny McKinley on a 19-yard TD pass to make it 14-0. ULL came back to tie the score on a pair of time consuming drives. The first went 80 yards in 15 plays and took 6:09 off the clock, while the next took 11 plays and covered 89 yards in 4:38 to tie the score at 14. The Gamecocks scored once more before the half as Cory Boyd went in from two-yards out to give USC a 21-14 halftime advantage. The defenses took over in the second half. Cory Boyd scored his second TD of the game on a four-yard run midway through the third quarter, the only points in the second stanza. ULL had a pair of chances in the redzone but turned the ball over on downs both times. The Gamecocks rolled up 433 yards of offense and logged 27 first downs in the contest, using a balance of run (195 yards) and pass (238 yards). The Ragin’ Cajuns totaled 315 yards of total offense, 252 on the ground but just 63 through the air.
OPENER NOTES: The Gamecocks improved to 74-36-4 in season openers, a .667 winning pct., including wins in each of their last eight and in 11 of their last 12 season lidlifters. Their only loss in that stretch was a 10-0 setback at North Carolina State to open the 1999 season. They have posted an impressive 67-19-4 record when opening the season at home, a .767 winning percentage. They have posted wins each of the last nine times they’ve opened the season at home, dating back to a 24-21 loss to Georgia to kick off the 1994 campaign.
THE HEAD BALL COACH IN OPENERS: South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier improved to 17-1 in season-opening games in his 18 years as a collegiate head coach. The only loss in that stretch was ironically a 27-21 loss to the Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia on Sept. 2, 1989 when he was the head coach in his final season at Duke. That Blue Devil squad went on to win the ACC title that season. The Carolina victory was led by the great Todd Ellis, who is now the play-by-play voice of Gamecock Football. Since that time, Spurrier has won 15 straight season opening games with his squad scoring 40 or more points in 10 of those 15 contests.
GAMECOCKS AND BULLDOGS: This is the 60th meeting between these two schools. Georgia holds a 44-13-2 lead in the all-time series, including a 25-6 advantage when the teams have played in Athens. The Bulldogs have won each of the last five meetings, but three of those contests were decided by six points or less. Carolina’s last win came by a 14-9 margin in Athens in the 2001 season.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: 12th-ranked Georgia shut down South Carolina’s rushing game en route to posting an 18-0 win last September in Columbia. It marked just the second time that a Steve Spurrier-coached team was shutout – the other came during his first year as a collegiate coach in 1987 when Duke lost 7-0 to Rutgers – a span of 193 games. Blake Mitchell completed 16-of-22 passes for 156 yards, but Cory Boyd and Mike Davis combined for just 34 yards on 15 carries. The Bulldogs got three field goals from Brandon Coutu, a nine-yard TD run from Danny Ware and a safety from Charles Johnson. Georgia had 387 yards of offense (198 rushing and 189 passing) to Carolina’s 255. The Gamecocks were 0-for-3 in the redzone.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET IN ATHENS: The 9th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs escaped with a 17-15 win over South Carolina on Sept. 10, 2005. Clinging to a 10-9 lead, Georgia finally wore down the Gamecocks with its running game. Thomas Brown finished with 144 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, leading Georgia’s 238-yard effort on the ground. A missed extra point early in the game forced USC to go for two when they had a chance to tie the game midway through the fourth quarter, but Blake Mitchell missed Sidney Rice and the homestanding Bulldogs were able to hold on. Mitchell completed 22-of-34 passes for 236 yards for Carolina.
SPURRIER AND THE BULLDOGS: South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier owns an 11-3 record against Georgia. He was 11-1 while in charge of the Florida Gator program, with his lone loss coming in the 1997 season. He is winless in two tries as the head coach at South Carolina. His squads have scored 30 or more points in nine of 14 contests against the Bulldogs.
TRYING TO GET TO 2-0: The Gamecocks are trying to get to 2-0 overall for the first time since 2003 (wins over Louisiana-Lafayette and Virginia). They have won their season opener in each of the past three seasons, only to fall to nationally-ranked Georgia in the season’s second game each time.
STREAKING GAMECOCKS: Carolina puts a four-game winning streak on the line against the Bulldogs. The Gamecocks were one of only 15 Division I teams to finish the 2006 season with three consecutive wins. It was the first time Carolina has finished the season with three straight wins since the 1973 campaign.
EVEN RARE FOR THE HBC: Winning the final three games of the season was even a rare occurrence for head coach Steve Spurrier. The `06 finish was just the second time in his career that he coached his team to victory in the season’s final three games. The only other time came in 1997 when Florida defeated South Carolina, Florida State and Penn State en route to a 10-2 campaign.
FRESH FACES: The Gamecocks played 11 members of their highly-touted recruiting class in the season-opener. against ULL. Travian Robertson started at defensive end. The others who saw their first collegiate action were wide receivers Jason Barnes, Matt Clements and Chris Culliver, tailback Brian Maddox, fullback Patrick DiMarco, tight end Weslye Saunders, defensive linemen Clifton Geathers, Cliff Matthews and Ladi Ajiboye, and linebacker Melvin Ingram.
FOR STARTERS: Three players made their first career start for the Gamecocks against ULL. Redshirt freshman Chris Smelley became the first redshirt freshman to start a season-opener at quarterback since Todd Ellis did so in the 1986 season. True freshman Travian Robertson made the start in his first collegiate game at defensive end. Sophomore Eric Norwood also made his first career start at the other defensive end position. Right guard Lemuel Jeanpierre made his first start on the offensive side of the ball. He had made one start on the D-Line last season.
PLAYING THE DAWGS: The key Gamecock skill position players have experience playing Georgia. Quarterback Blake Mitchell is 38-for-56 for 392 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions against the Bulldogs. Chris Smelley completed 7-of-11 passes for 64 yards last season. Cory Boyd has carried 12 times for 32 yards in three games, while Mike Davis has rushed 14 times for 55 yards in two contests against UGA.
SIDELINED: Reserve linebacker Yvan Banag suffered a right knee sprain in the win over ULL and will likely miss the Georgia game. Reserve tailback Bobby Wallace remains sidelined with a broken collarbone. Emanuel Cook has also been sidelined following an appendectomy. Offensive guard James Thompson has been suspended for the first three games for a violation of university policy.
GEORGIA ON MY MIND: The Gamecocks have 16 players on their roster who hail from the state of Georgia. The list includes Eric Norwood (Acworth), Addison Williams (Atlanta), Jonathan Williams (Augusta), Terrence Campbell (Austell), Yvan Banag (Buford), Carlos Thomas (College Park), Blake Mitchell (LaGrange), Ryan Broadhead (Leesburg), Chris Hail (Lovejoy), Kenny McKinley (Mableton), Ladi Ajiboye and Vandaral Shackleford (Riverdale), Nate Spurrier (Snellville), Jared Cook (Suwanee) and Jasper and Casper Brinkley (Thomson).
STOPPING THE PASS: Louisiana-Lafayette completed 12-of-19 passes for just 63 yards against the Gamecocks on Saturday. Only Fresno State allowed fewer yards passing in its opening game, surrendering 60 yards through the air to Sacramento State. The 63 yards represents the fewest yards allowed through the air in the Steve Spurrier Era at South Carolina.
REDZONE SUCCESS: The difference in the win over ULL was South Carolina’s ability to convert in the redzone. The Gamecocks were 4-for-4 in redzone opportunities, scoring twice on the ground and twice through the air. The Ragin’ Cajuns also had four redzone opportunities, but came away with just two scores, both on the ground, and were turned away twice on downs.
DUELING QB’S: The Gamecocks used a tandem quarterback system of redshirt freshman Chris Smelley and sophomore Tommy Beecher in the season opener against ULL. Smelley, making his first career start, completed 10-of-14 passes for 101 yards and his first career touchdown, while Beecher hit on 11-of-15 passes for 137 yards and a TD. Smelley became the first freshman (redshirt or otherwise) to start for the Gamecocks since Steve Taneyhill in 1992 and the first to start a season opener since Todd Ellis in 1986. Beecher has completed 13-of-17 passes in his brief career for 156 yards and two touchdowns.
BLAKE RETURNS: Fifth-year senior quarterback Blake Mitchell returns to the active roster after sitting out the season opener. Mitchell, who hails from LaGrange, Ga., ranks seventh in the Carolina record books with 4,245 career passing yards. Only four players (Todd Ellis, Steve Taneyhill, Anthony Wright and Phil Petty) have thrown for over 5,000 yards in a Gamecock uniform. He is the SEC’s top returning quarterback in career completion percentage (61.2 percent), which is also the best mark in school history. He also ranks seventh in the Carolina record books in pass attempts (539) and pass completions (330) and tied for fifth in touchdown passes (28). He owns an 11-6 record in 17 career starts. He was the MVP of the 2006 Liberty Bowl and completed 102-of-147 passes (69.4 percent) with 10 touchdowns over the final 18 quarters of the 2006 season.
MCKINLEY RISES TO THE TOP: With the departure of Sidney Rice to the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, junior Kenny McKinley becomes the top receiving threat for the Gamecocks. In the season opener, the Mableton, Ga. native led the Carolina receivers with six catches for 44 yards. McKinley caught 51 passes for 880 yards, an average of 17.3 yards per catch in 2006. The receptions (10th) and yards (6th) both figured in South Carolina’s single-season top 10 list. He logged a pair of 100-yard receiving games, including a 112-yard, two-touchdown performance in the Liberty Bowl win over Houston. With his six receptions in the season opener, McKinley has caught 82 career passes, which moves him into 18th place on the school’s all-time list.
22 STRAIGHT: Kenny McKinley has caught a pass in 22 straight games. That is the eighth longest current streak in the country.
BOYD IS BACK: Senior tailback Cory Boyd is back for his fifth and final season in the Garnet & Black. Boyd was the Gamecocks’ leading rusher a season ago when he totaled 823 yards on the ground in 164 carries, an average of 5.0 yards per tote. He also caught 35 passes out of the backfield for 406 yards, an 11.6 yard average. Boyd is just the fourth player in school history to log 1,000 yards rushing (1,411) and haul in 70+ receptions (85). The others are Stanley Pritchett, Brandon Bennett and Harold Green. Boyd needs just 69 receiving yards to go over 1,000 in his career. Only Stanley Pritchett (1,178 rushing and 1,097 receiving) has reached the 1,000-1,000 plateau at Carolina.
ONE-TWO PUNCH: Cory Boyd won’t be asked to carry all of the load for the Gamecocks in 2007, as junior Mike Davis has proven to be a capable rusher as well. In fact, Coach Spurrier has mentioned that he thinks the Boyd-Davis tandem is as good as any twosome he’s coached. Davis, who usually seems to get stronger as the season progresses, has rushed for 1,234 career yards for his hometown university, including a team-high 94 yards on 15 carries in the season-opener.
ANOTHER BOYD SIGHTING: Tight end Andy Boyd is back for his sixth year in the Garnet & Black. Boyd, who has been hampered by injuries throughout his Carolina career, was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. He played in five games as a true freshman in 2002, took a medical redshirt in 2003, played in a career-high 10 games in 2004, was limited to just two games in 2005 due to injuries, then played in nine games a year ago. Overall, he has played in 27 games including nine starts. He came into the season with just four career receptions, but three of those had gone for touchdowns. He caught three passes for a game-high 48 yards in the season opener against ULL, with one score, raising his career totals to seven receptions with four touchdowns. Boyd owns a bachelor’s degree in history and is working towards a second degree in psychology.
NOT THE OLDEST GAMECOCK: Despite turning 24 years old on August 15, Andy Boyd is not the oldest Gamecock on the roster. That distinction goes to walk-on linebacker Marcus Davis, who turns 28-years-old on Aug. 28. He was a 1997 graduate of Columbia’s Eau Claire High School. Research indicates that Davis is the oldest Division I football player in the country this year.
DOUBLE THE PLEASURE, DOUBLE THE FUN: Opposing quarterbacks may think they’re seeing double when they look across the line of scrimmage at the Gamecock defense. In fact, they may be. The Gamecock defensive roster features a pair of twins, Casper and Jasper Brinkley and Dustin and Jordin Lindsey.
B-52: The Gamecock defense features one of the nation’s best in No. 52, middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley. Brinkley, a 6-2, 262-pound senior from Thomson, Ga. totaled 107 tackles in 2006. He ranks second among the returning tacklers in the SEC behind only Kentucky’s Wesley Woodyard. He also leads all returning SEC players with 85 solo stops in 2006, which he logged en route to first team All-SEC acclaim by the Associated Press. He picked up in the season opener right where he left off a season ago, leading the team with eight tackles, including seven solo stops, despite playing with a sprained left ankle. He has led the squad in tackles in nine of the 14 games in which he’s appeared for the Garnet & Black, including the last five in a row.
B-51: Jasper Brinkley’s older brother, Casper Brinkley, moves to an outside linebacker position this season after recording 7.0 sacks as a defensive end in 2006. He was second on the squad with seven tackles in the season opener against ULL. Jasper and Casper both have started all 14 games since arriving on campus and have combined for 166 tackles in that time, an average of 11.9 tackles per game.
SUCCOP SUCCESS: The Gamecocks have another All-America candidate in placekicker Ryan Succop. Succop, a 6-2, 214-pound junior from Hickory, N.C., converted 16-of-20 field goal attempts in 2006, including a long of 55 yards against Vanderbilt. He also connected on a 55-yarder at Florida, but that one was called back due to penalty. He actually only had two misses all season – a 51-yarder that hit the left upright against Georgia and a 33-yarder against Houston in the Liberty Bowl. The other two misses were blocked. He was 10-for-11 from inside 47 yards. He averaged 42.8 yards per field goal attempt and 40.1 yards per field goal made. Succop also handles the kick off and punting duties for South Carolina. He averaged 43.7 yards per punt in 2006. He was the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week in last year’s season opener at Mississippi State. He had one field goal attempt last week against ULL, missing wide right from 47 yards out. He punted three times for a 45.0 yard average, including a long of 57 yards.
SUCCOP BOOTS `EM DEEP: Moving the kickoff back to the 30 yard line did not seem to face Ryan Succop in the season opener. Four of his five kickoffs were downed in the endzone. The other one was returned for just 14 yards.
PRE-SEASON ACCOLADES: Middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley was the only Gamecock to earn pre-season first team All-SEC honors by both the media and the coaches. Ryan Succop earned first team honors as a placekicker by the media, but was a second team selection by the coaches. Succop also earned second team honors by both the media and coaches as a punter. Tight end Andy Boyd was a second team selection by the coaches, while tailback Cory Boyd and defensive end Casper Brinkley gained third team recognition by the league’s coaches.
MORE PRE-SEASON RESPECT: Middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley is a pre-season All-America candidate. He is on the pre-season “watch list” for the Nagurski Award, for the Lombardi Award, for the Butkus Award and for the Walter Camp Player of the Year award. Quarterback Blake Mitchell is on the list for the Manning Award, while Ryan Succop is on the Lou Groza Award watch list.
EARNING HIS KEEP: Prior to the start of the season, Head Coach Steve Spurrier placed former walk-on Bryan Kingrey on scholarship. Over the past three years, Coach Spurrier has rewarded 10 former walk-ons on scholarships.
ABOUT THE 2007 SCHEDULE: The Gamecocks came into the season with the second-toughest schedule in the country, according to Rivals.com, behind only Washington. The conference road schedule reads like a “Who’s Who” of top-ranked programs, with stops planned at Georgia, LSU, Tennessee and Arkansas. Throw in a non-conference trip to North Carolina, where new head coach Butch Davis takes over, and the task is daunting. The home schedule features a visit from defending national champion Florida and in-state rival Clemson to wrap up the season. Other conference home games include Mississippi State, Kentucky and Vanderbilt. Louisiana-Lafayette and South Carolina State round out the slate.
ROTATING OFF AND ON: With the rotation schedule of SEC West opponents, the Gamecocks drop Auburn from their schedule and pick up LSU for the next two seasons. The Sept. 22 game will mark Carolina’s first trip to the Bayou since the 2002 season.
THURSDAY NIGHT SPECIAL: For the third straight season, the Gamecocks will play a Thursday night contest in 2007. They will host SEC rival Kentucky on Thursday, Oct. 4. Carolina opened its 2005 season on a Thursday night with a win against Central Florida. Last season, the Gamecocks opened the season at Mississippi State on a Thursday and came away with a 15-0 win. They also lost a mid-season Thursday night contest at home to Auburn.
NEW COACH IN TOWN: Steve Spurrier made just one change to his coaching staff in the off-season, bringing in Shane Beamer from Mississippi State to coach the outside linebackers and serve as co-coordinator of special teams. Beamer is the son of longtime Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer.
RECRUITING SUCCESS: The Gamecocks are coming off the most successful February signing day in school history. The class was ranked fourth in the country by ESPN.com, sixth by Rivals.com and seventh by Scout.com. It was the Gamecocks’ first top-10 class since 2003 (8th) and is the highest-ranked class in school history, bettering the 2002 class that was ranked as high as No. 7 by ESPN’s Tom Lemming. This year’s class features five players on the Rivals100 list including wide receiver Chris Culliver (19), defensive end Cliff Matthews (32), quarterback Stephen Garcia (90), defensive end Travian Robertson (96) and offensive tackle Quintin Richardson (99).
RECAPPING 2006: South Carolina won its final three games of the 2006 season to finish the year with an 8-5 record. All five of the Gamecock losses came to teams ranked in the top 12 in the country at the time of the game. The final four losses were by a combined 21 points. They were 3-5 in SEC action, finishing fifth in the Eastern Division. The Gamecocks posted a 3-4 record at Williams-Brice Stadium, logging non-conference wins over Wofford, Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee, but going 0-4 in SEC action, with all four losses coming to ranked foes – Georgia, Auburn, Tennessee and Arkansas. They were 4-1 on the road, posting wins at Mississippi State, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Clemson along with a one-point loss at eventual national champion Florida. They also had a neutral site win, defeating Houston in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, held in Memphis, Tenn.
GOING BOWLING: The Gamecocks appeared in the 2006 AutoZone Liberty Bowl, defeating Conference USA champion Houston by a 44-36 score. It was Carolina’s 13th bowl appearance. After dropping each of its first eight bowl games, Carolina has rebounded to win four of its last five to log an all-time bowl record of 4-9.
THAT WAS TOUGH: The Gamecocks had one of the nation’s toughest schedules in 2006, facing six ranked opponents during the regular season. According to the NCAA, Carolina’s schedule tied with Kentucky as the fourth-toughest in the nation behind only Florida, Michigan and Cincinnati. Nine of South Carolina’s 13 opponents in 2006 played in a bowl game. Only Florida (11) had more bowl opponents on the schedule than did the Gamecocks.
WINNING EIGHT: The 2006 season marked Carolina’s first eight-win campaign since 2001 when they finished 9-3 under Lou Holtz. It was just the school’s ninth eight-win season in school history, including their third this century, after having zero eight-win seasons in the 1990s.
NEW DECADE, DIFFERENT RESULTS: The Gamecocks have posted a 49-36 record since the calendar turned to 2000. The 49 wins is eight more their total of 41 victories posted in the entire decade of the `90s. Carolina’s most victories in any decade is 63, set from 1980-89.
WINNING MORE OFTEN THAN NOT: The Gamecocks have posted three consecutive winning campaigns (6-5 in 2004, 7-5 in 2005 and 8-5 in 2006). The last time they turned in three consecutive winning seasons was 1988-90 when they went 8-4, 6-4-1 and 6-5 in consecutive years.
UNDER COACH SPURRIER: Head coach Steve Spurrier is 16-10 in three seasons in Columbia. He matched Joe Morrison’s mark for the most wins by a Carolina head coach in his first two seasons with 15. Morrison went 5-6 and 10-2 in 1983 and `84. Coach Spurrier is the first coach in school history to take his team to a bowl game in each of his first two seasons at the university. South Carolina has never gone to bowl games in three consecutive seasons.
SPURRIER SETBACKS: South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier has lost 10 times during his two-year stint in Columbia, but those losses have been to some of the nation’s elite teams. Six of the 10 losses were to teams ranked in the top 12 in the country at the time of the contest. In addition, seven of his 10 losses in the Garnet & Black have been by seven points or less.
NOTABLES FROM 2006:
â€¢ Ryan Succop led the team with 85 points scored. It was the third highest single season total in school history behind only Collin Mackie (113) and Harold Green (96), who both logged their numbers in 1987. Succop, a semi-finalist for the Lou Groza Award, became the fourth kicker in school history to notch two field goals of 50+ yards, including a 55-yarder against Vanderbilt, the second-longest field goal in school history.
â€¢ The Gamecocks punted just 30 times in 13 games, an average of 2.3 punts per game. Only Hawaii had fewer punts among Division I teams in 2006.
â€¢ All-conference middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley recorded 107 tackles, including 85 solo stops. The 85 unassisted tackles was the second-highest single season total in school history, topped only by Jonathan Martin’s 2002 total of 93.
â€¢ Defensive ends Casper Brinkley and Eric Norwood tied for the team lead with 7.0 sacks apiece. It was the most sacks recorded by a player since Kalimba Edwards and Cecil Caldwell each registered 7.0 sacks in the 2000 season.
â€¢ With the benefit of playing a 13th game for the first time in school history, the Gamecocks established school single season records for total offense (5,135 yards) and first downs (270).
â€¢ Quarterback Blake Mitchell completed 66.8 percent of his passes on the season, the second best single-season mark in school history. He finished the season ranked seventh on Carolina’s all-time career list in yards passing (4,245), seventh in pass attempts (539), seventh in pass completions (330), first in completion percentage (.612), and tied for fifth in touchdowns passing (28).
â€¢ Tailback Cory Boyd led the team with 823 yards rushing. It was the most yards rushing for a Gamecock since the 2000 season when Derek Watson rushed for 1,066. Boyd is 22nd on the Carolina all-time rushing leaders list with 1,364 yards.
â€¢ Kenny McKinley caught 51 passes, the 10th highest single season total in school history, for 880 yards, sixth highest mark.
PLAYING OT: The Gamecocks have played just one overtime game in its history, falling to Tennessee by a 23-20 margin in Knoxville on Sept. 27, 2003. Every other SEC team has played at least three overtime games since the rule was established in 1996.
BOWL TIE-INS: The SEC has arrangements to send eight teams to post-season bowls. They include: BCS, Capital One, AT&T, Cotton, Chick-fil-A, Outback, AutoZone Liberty, Gaylord Hotels Music City and PetroSun Independence.
GAME CAPTAINS: The Gamecocks select captains for each game. ULL: Captain Munnerlyn, Brandon Isaac, Justin Sorensen.
THEY PAY TO SEE THE GAMECOCKS PLAY: The Gamecocks averaged 75,630 fans for its seven home games in 2006. That average ranked 19th in Division I football. Eight of the top 20 schools in home attendance hail from the SEC.
CALL `EM AS I SEE `EM: South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is one of just 12 Division I-A head coaches who calls his team’s offensive plays during the game. The others? Troy Calhoun (Air Force), Todd Dodge (North Texas), Jeff Tedford (California), Bob Toledo (Tulane), Art Briles (Houston), Bill Callahan (Nebraska), Ralph Friedgen (Maryland), Paul Johnson (Navy), June Jones (Hawaii), Charlie Weis (Notre Dame) and Hal Mumme (New Mexico State).
PLAYING A RANKED OPPONENT: The Gamecocks were 1-5 against ranked opponents in 2006 with their lone win coming against No. 24 Clemson. In 2005, Carolina was 2-1 against ranked opponents, knocking off No. 23 Tennessee and No. 12 Florida after losing to No. 9 Georgia.
SPURRIER AGAINST THE BEST: Steve Spurrier owns a 48-35-1 record when facing ranked opponents in his career, including wins in 14 of his last 23 opportunities. He has an 11-12 mark when facing teams ranked in the top five in the country. The last top-5 team he defeated was second-ranked Tennessee on Sept. 18, 1999 (23-21). He is 3-6 against nationally-ranked teams since taking over at Carolina, with wins over Tennessee, Florida and Clemson and losses to Florida, Georgia (twice), Auburn, Arkansas and Tennessee.
UP NEXT: History will be made when the Gamecocks host in-state foe South Carolina State on Sept. 15. It will mark the first time that the two Palmetto State schools have ever met on the gridiron.