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Oct. 17, 2014


DATE: Saturday, October 18
LOCATION: Columbia, S.C.
STADIUM: Williams-Brice Stadium
SERIES: South Carolina leads 27-20-1
TV: SEC Network
RADIO: Flagship – 107.5 FM “The Game” & the IMG Network

The South Carolina Gamecocks (3-3, 2-3 SEC) return home to face the Furman Paladins (2-4, 1-1 Southern) in the annual Homecoming game on Saturday, Oct. 18. The noon ET game will be televised nationally on the SEC Network with Tom Hart and Matt Stinchcomb in the booth and Kayce Smith on the sidelines.

A South Carolina win over Furman would…
Snap the Gamecocks two-game losing streak. South Carolina has not lost three in a row since the 2009 season.

Extend the Gamecocks’ winning streak over teams from outside the BCS automatic qualifying/Power 5 conferences to 35 consecutive games. Carolina’s last loss to a team outside that top tier came against East Carolina in 1999.

Extend the Gamecocks’ winning streak against non-conference opponents to 17-straight games overall and its regular season non-conference streak to 22-straight games.

Extend Carolina’s home winning streak against non-conference opponents to 20-straight games.

Give head coach Steve Spurrier a perfect 51-0 record against teams outside the BCS/Power 5.

A LITTLE HISTORY: 2014 marks the 121st season of intercollegiate football at the University of South Carolina, dating back to 1892. It is the 108th-consecutive year in which South Carolina has competed on the gridiron. The University did not field a team in either 1893 or 1906. Carolina owns an all-time record of 579-550-44. The Gamecocks were nine games under .500 until head coach Steve Spurrier took the reins in 2005, but are 38 games over since that time.

SEC HISTORY: 2014 marks South Carolina’s 23rd year in the Southeastern Conference. South Carolina and Arkansas joined the league prior to the 1992 campaign. The Gamecocks earned their first SEC Eastern Division title in the 2010 season. Carolina was 37-66-1 (.361) in SEC action from 1992-2004, but is 43-34 (.558) in conference play since Coach Spurrier took the reins, including a 20-9 (.690) mark since 2011.

CAROLINA VS. FURMAN: This is the 49th gridiron meeting between South Carolina and Furman in a series that dates back to 1892. The Gamecocks hold a 27-20-1 lead in the series, including a 14-8-1 advantage in Columbia. The teams have met just once since 1982, with that coming at Williams-Brice Stadium in 2010, a 38-19 Carolina victory. The Gamecocks have won 12 of the last 13 meetings between the two Palmetto State schools dating back to 1950 with all but one of the wins coming by double-digits. Furman has pitched a shutout 14 times in the series.

REMEMBERING THE FIRST TIME: Furman defeated the South Carolina College Jaguars on Dec. 24, 1892, by a 44-0 score in the first football game ever played by the state’s flagship school. Professor A.T. Smythe volunteered to oversee 11 of our “fastest and heaviest” young men (the team averaged nearly 160 pounds) for South Carolina, but they were no match for the Mountaineers, who put their four years of football experience to good use on that Christmas Eve day in Charleston. Melton Clark was elected the Garnet & Black’s first captain.

SPURRIER VS. FURMAN: South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier owns a 2-0 record against Furman. He was a 27-3 winner on Sept. 22, 1990 in his first year as the Florida head coach, then posted a 38-19 win on Sept. 18, 2010 as South Carolina’s head coach.

THE LAST TIME THEY MET: Stephen Garcia threw for two touchdowns, Marcus Lattimore rushed for one and No. 13 South Carolina posted a 38-19 win over Furman on Sept. 18, 2010 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. The Gamecocks opened up a 28-6 lead midway through the third quarter, but Furman rallied to narrow the deficit to 31-19 early in the fourth quarter. Stephon Gilmore’s 80-yard interception return midway through the final stanza sealed the win. Carolina defensive players that year included Taylor, Robertson, Matthews, Allen, Gilmore, Holloman, Swearinger and Culliver – all NFL players.

NON-CONFERENCE WINS: South Carolina has won 16-straight games against non-conference opponents. Its last non-conference loss came to Florida State in the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl. Since that loss they have defeated East Carolina (three times), Navy, The Citadel, Clemson (three times), Nebraska, UAB, Wofford, Michigan, North Carolina, UCF, Coastal Carolina and Wisconsin.

REGULAR SEASON NON-CON WINS: The Gamecocks have posted 21-consecutive regular season victories against non-conference opponents, dating back to the start of the 2009 season. Over the past six seasons, Carolina has logged regular season non-conference wins over Clemson (5 times), East Carolina (3 times), North Carolina State, Florida Atlantic, South Carolina State, Southern Miss, Furman, Troy, Navy, The Citadel, UAB, Wofford, North Carolina, Central Florida and Coastal Carolina.

NON-CON WINS AT HOME: South Carolina has won 19-straight home games against non-conference opponents. It’s last home loss to a non-conference team was to Clemson in the 2007 regular-season finale.

IN-STATE FCS FOES: Since the regular season was expanded to 12 games in 2006, Carolina has hosted an in-state FCS opponent every year. They are 8-0 in those games, defeating Wofford (2006, 2008, 2012), South Carolina State (2007, 2009), Furman (2010), Citadel (2011) and Coastal Carolina (2013). Citadel is back on the slate in 2015.

THE STREAK LIVES ON: The Gamecocks have won 34-consecutive games against teams outside the BCS automatic qualifying/Power 5 conferences dating back to a 1999 loss to East Carolina.

PERFECT RECORD: Head coach Steve Spurrier is a perfect 50-0 all-time against schools outside of BCS automatic qualifying/Power 5 conferences, including a 24-0 mark since coming to South Carolina.

THE LAST TIME OUT: No. 13/15 South Carolina held a 20-7 lead midway through the fourth quarter, but Missouri rallied with two touchdowns in the final 6:49 to pull out a 21-20 upset win in Columbia, S.C. last Saturday. Mike Davis rushed for 104 yards, the ninth 100-yard rushing game of his career, and scored a touchdown. Dylan Thompson completed 21-of-37 passes for 219 yards and a score. The defense played its best game of the season, forcing 10 consecutive punts, including six three-and-outs, before allowing touchdowns on Missouri’s final two drives of the game. The Tigers logged just 280 yards of offense, but 119 came on the final two drives.

ROLLERCOASTER RIDE: The Gamecocks opened the 2014 campaign ranked ninth in both national polls. It marked the first time in school history that Carolina has been ranked in the Associated Press’ preseason Top-25 in four straight seasons. Only five schools – Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, South Carolina and LSU – have been in preseason A.P. Top-12 each of last four years. In what has been an up-and-down first half of the season, the Gamecocks spent the first five weeks in the nation’s Top-25, extending their streak to a school-record 69 consecutive polls, but have not been ranked in each of the last three polls. Only Alabama, LSU, Oregon, Oklahoma and Stanford had streaks as long as Carolina before it fell out of the Top-25 after a loss to Missouri.

EARLY TESTS: South Carolina played four teams in the first five weeks of the season that were ranked in the Associated Press Top-25 at one point during the season. The Gamecocks lost to Texas A&M, but defeated Georgia and East Carolina before dropping a one-point decision to Missouri. No other school played as many teams in the Top-25 as the Gamecocks through the season’s first five games.

SHOW YOUR PINK: This week’s game is Carolina’s annual pink game in show of support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

THE LAST TIME OUT: For the second-straight week, the Gamecocks saw a double-digit advantage evaporate in the fourth quarter, in a 45-38 loss at Kentucky on October 4 in Lexington. The Gamecock offense clicked on all cylinders for much of the night, rolling up season highs in rushing yards (282), total yards (500) and first downs (32). Mike Davis did the bulk of the work, carrying 23 times for a career-high 183 yards and three touchdowns. Dylan Thompson completed 23-of-37 passes for 218 yards and a score, but also was intercepted three times, doubling his season total. Pharoh Cooper again led the receivers with six catches for 83 yards and a score. Skai Moore led the defense with nine tackles.

500 YARDS OF OFFENSE: The Gamecocks rolled up 500 yards of offense at Kentucky, 282 on the ground and 218 through the air. It marked the 12th time in the Steve Spurrier Era at South Carolina that his offense produced 500 or more yards, a feat that was accomplished three times last season.

THAT’S A LONG ONE: The Gamecocks opened the Kentucky game with a 19-play, 79-yard drive that consumed 7:56 of the clock. It was the second-longest drive in the Steve Spurrier Era at South Carolina in terms of plays, topped only by the 20-play drive at Tennessee on Oct. 29, 2011. 17 of the 19 plays were runs (although two were scrambles on pass plays).

THAT’S ANOTHER FIRST DOWN: The Gamecocks picked up 32 first downs against Kentucky, matching their high water mark in the Steve Spurrier Era at South Carolina. They also logged 32 first downs against Kentucky in 2011 and at Arkansas in 2013.

DAVIS SHINES: Junior running back Mike Davis came up with his best performance at Kentucky, rushing 23 times for a career-high 183 yards and three touchdowns. The three rushing touchdowns matched the school record, accomplished many times. He averaged 8.0 yards a carry, including a 40-yard burst on a 2nd-and-28 from the Carolina 10. The effort pushed him over the 2,000-yard mark in his career, becoming the 16th player in school history to accomplish that feat.

MAKING A POINT: Halfway through the season, the Gamecocks are averaging 34.2 points per game. That puts them just slightly ahead of the record-setting mark of 34.1 points per game, set last season.

THROWIN’ IN THE WIND: Fifth-year senior Dylan Thompson is the only player on the squad to throw a pass this season. Thompson, a 6-3, 218-pounder from Boiling Springs, S.C., waited patiently for his turn behind Connor Shaw, the winningest quarterback in school history. It’s already been a big year for Thompson, as he proposed marriage to his girlfriend at midfield in August. Thompson is 6-3 as a starter and is one of only 13 players in school history to throw for over 3,000 yards. He has thrown for over 300 yards in a game on three occasions and has thrown at least three touchdown passes in a game three times.

THOMPSON IN 2014: Dylan Thompson has completed 61.1 percent of his passes this season (132-for-216) for 1,577 yards with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions. He ranks third in the SEC in passing yards per game (262.8) and seventh in total offense (263.5). His best game came when he threw for a career-high 366 yards with a career-high four touchdowns against Texas A&M. The 366 yards ranks as the ninth-best single-game performance in school history.

NOTHING CATCHY ABOUT THIS: The Gamecocks feature four wide receivers that receive the bulk of the action:

Sophomore Pharoh Cooper (5-11, 201) was an All-SEC Freshman selection last season as both an all-purpose back and return specialist. He is the Gamecocks’ top pass catcher through six games with 30 receptions (5.0/game, T7th in the SEC), with 379 receiving yards (63.2/game, 9th in the SEC) and with four touchdown receptions. He had a breakout game at Vanderbilt, catching 10 passes for 114 yards, both career highs. He added six catches for 83 yards and a score at Kentucky. He has also seen action at the “Wildcat” position, rushing nine times for 96 yards, an average of 10.7 yards per carry, and handles the punt return duties. He has two carries in his career of 70 yards or more.

Fifth-year senior Nick “Governor Nicky” Jones (5-7, 168), has been consistent and sometimes overlooked throughout his Carolina career. He just has a knack for getting open and catching the ball. He logged the first 100-yard receiving game of his career against Texas A&M, catching five passes for a career-best 113 yards and two scores, including a 69-yard TD reception. He is second on the squad in receptions (27), receiving yards (363) and touchdown receptions (3). He is 10th in the SEC in both catches and yards/game.

Junior Shaq Roland (6-1, 176), a former “Mr. Football” in the state of South Carolina (following in the footsteps of Stephon Gilmore, Marcus Lattimore and Jadeveon Clowney), is the most gifted of the receiving corps. He came on strong at the end of his sophomore season, posting a career-high 112 receiving yards on six catches in the 2014 Capital One Bowl win over Wisconsin. He had a career-high seven catches for 94 yards against East Carolina. He is fourth on the squad with 15 catches for 180 yards and two scores.

Senior Damiere Byrd (5-9, 170) is the fastest Gamecock and one of the fastest players in the SEC. He has eight career receptions of 40 yards or more, including a 46-yard TD catch against Texas A&M, is a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-District selection, is a semifinalist for the Campbell Trophy and was a captain on the Gamecocks’ track & field squad. He had four catches at Kentucky, doubling his season total, while two of his eight receptions have gone for touchdowns.

STELLAR TIGHT ENDS: The Gamecocks are blessed with a pair of standout tight ends. Senior Rory “Busta” Anderson (6-5, 227) is an All-SEC candidate and is on the John Mackey Midseason Watch List. Anderson has averaged 15.6 yards per catch with nine touchdowns in his career. He suffered a torn triceps muscle late in spring drills but worked his way back and caught three passes for 52 yards in the opener against Texas A&M. He had a big day against Georgia with five catches for 67 yards and a score. Junior Jerell Adams (6-6, 242) has averaged 16.6 yards per catch and had three scores in his first two campaigns. He had two catches for 40 yards against A&M. Senior Cody Gibson (6-7, 278) made the conversion to tight end this fall after spending his career at tackle. He is used primarily used as a blocker, but hauled in a 27-yard pass at Kentucky.

THREE OF THE BEST: The Gamecocks feature what many believe may be the best offensive line in school history, led by three veterans. Senior left guard A.J. Cann (6-4, 311) is the anchor. He has made 44 career starts, the most on the squad, and has been named to five preseason first-team All-America squads. Senior left tackle Corey Robinson (6-8, 344) has made 28 starts and was a second-team preseason All-SEC pick by both the media and coaches. He was the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week for his performance against Georgia. Redshirt junior right tackle Brandon Shell (6-6, 333) has made 29 career starts and was a preseason third-team All-SEC selection by the league’s 14 coaches.

CANN DO: Senior left guard A.J. Cann made his 44th career start at Kentucky. He is one of only six players in school history to make 44 or more starts for the Garnet & Black.

No. Player Starts 1. T.J. Johnson (2009-12) 53
2. Cliff Matthews (2007-10) 47
3. Travelle Wharton (2000-03) 45
Ladi Ajiboye (2007-10) 45
Devin Taylor (2009-12) 45
6. A.J. Cann (2011-14) 44

THE SKAI’S THE LIMIT: The best linebacker in the SEC that no one has heard about may be sophomore Skai Moore. The 6-2, 213-pounder from Cooper City, Fla. led the Gamecocks in both tackles (56) and interceptions (4) as a true freshman in 2013, despite starting just four games. He logged six tackles, all solo stops, in the season opener against Texas A&M, including the Gamecocks’ lone sack, and has led the team in tackles three this season with seven stops against East Carolina, a career-best 10 vs. Georgia and nine more tackles at Kentucky.

LEADER IN THE SECONDARY: Senior Brison Williams is the unquestioned leader in the secondary. The 5-11, 208-pound senior from Warner Robins, Ga., has played both safety positions during his Gamecock career, and has spent the bulk of the 2014 season at cornerback. He has started 30 times in his career. He is tied for fifth on the team with 17 tackles, including 14 solo stops. He turned the Vandy game around with his 53-yard interception return for a touchdown.

THE FRISCO KID: Elliott Fry continues to shine. He missed his only field goal attempt in the opener against A&M (from 54 yards out) and hasn’t missed since, converting all 10 of his attempts. He went 4-for-4 against East Carolina, matching his career-best performance, and accounting for 15 points while earning SEC Special Teams Player of the Week honors. He hit from 32-yards out against Georgia, and was 2-for-2 at Vanderbilt and versus Missouri, before knocking home a 31-yard attempt at Kentucky. He is tied for the SEC lead with 10 field goals and is 10th in the country with a 91 percent field goal accuracy. He is third in the league in points scored by kicking, averaging 9.2 points per game. Fry walked on to the Gamecock squad last summer and earned the starting placekicking chores. The Frisco, Texas product went 15-for-18 in field goal attempts and was successful on 54-of-55 extra point attempts for a team-leading 99 points, earning Freshman All-SEC accolades. The point total was the fourth-highest single-season mark in school history.

HULL OF A PUNTER: Senior Tyler Hull handles the punting chores for Carolina for a third-straight season. He averaged 39.4 yards as a sophomore and 37.8 yards as a junior. He is having his best season, punting 22 times for a 42.6-yard average, which ranks eighth in the SEC.

EVERY TIME OUT: The Gamecocks have had eight players start each of the first six games this season. On offense, LT Corey Robinson, LG A.J. Cann, RT Brandon Shell and QB Dylan Thompson have made every start. On defense, DT J.T. Surratt, DE Darius English, DB Brison Williams and S T.J. Gurley have been starters in each contest.

UP NEXT: South Carolina returns to SEC action next week when they head to Auburn for a tilt with the defending SEC champion Tigers. The Gamecocks have won just once in 11 previous meetings with Auburn and have lost each of the last seven times the two teams have met on the gridiron, most recently in 2011. Carolina is 0-3 on the Plains. The teams met four times from 1930-33, then did not play again until 1996.