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Nov. 14, 2014


DATE: Saturday, November 15
LOCATION: Gainesville, Fla.
STADIUM: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (88,548)
SERIES: Florida leads 24-7-3
TV: SEC Network
RADIO: Flagship – 107.5 FM “The Game” & the IMG Network
GAME NOTES: South Carolina | Florida

Coming off their second bye week of the season, the South Carolina Gamecocks (4-5, 2-5 SEC) get back into action this week when they head to “The Swamp” to take on the Florida Gators (5-3, 4-3 SEC) in the final SEC contest of the 2014 season. Game time is set for noon ET at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (88,548) in Gainesville. The SEC Network will televise the game nationally, with Dave Neal and Andre Ware in the booth and Laura Rutledge working the sidelines. It can also be heard on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game,” with Todd Ellis and Tommy Suggs in the booth and Langson Moore working the sidelines. Sports USA has the national radio broadcast with Mike Morgan and Gary Barnett describing the action.

A South Carolina win over Florida would…
Give the Gamecocks their fourth win in their last five meetings with the Gators. The Gamecocks defeated Florida just four times in 30 tries from 1911-2009 before winning three times in the past four years.

Be just the second win for the Gamecocks in “The Swamp”. South Carolina’s only other win in Gainesville came in the 2010 season by a 36-14 score, clinching the SEC Eastern Division title.

Snap the Gamecocks’ four-game SEC losing streak. The Gamecocks have lost four-straight in the conference for the first time since the end of the 2007 season (Vanderbilt, at Tennessee, at Arkansas, Florida) and the start of the 2008 campaign (at Vanderbilt, Georgia) when they lost six in a row.

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 580-552-44. The Gamecocks were nine games under .500 until head coach Steve Spurrier took the reins in 2005, but are 37 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 43-36 (.544) in conference play since Coach Spurrier took the reins, including a 20-11 (.645) mark since 2011.

CAROLINA VS. FLORIDA: This is the 35th meeting in a series that dates back to 1911. The Gators lead the all-time series, 24-7-3, including a 13-1 advantage in Gainesville. The Gamecocks have won three of the last four contests between the two squads after losing 18 of the previous 19 meetings. South Carolina won for the first time ever in Gainesville in 2010, 36-14, with the SEC Eastern Division title on the line.

THE HBC VS. FLORIDA: Steve Spurrier owns a 4-5 record against his alma mater including a 1-3 mark in Gainesville. The first time he was on the opposing sideline, Spurrier defeated the Gators at Williams-Brice Stadium by a 30-22 score in 2005. After four straight losses, he and the Gamecocks won in Gainesville by a 36-14 score for the SEC Eastern Division title in 2010. Carolina made it two straight with a 17-12 win in 2011 in Columbia. Florida won in 2012, the last time they met in Gainesville, by a 44-11 score. The Gamecocks won for the third time in four years with a 19-14 victory in Columbia last season.

THE LAST TIME THEY MET: The No. 11/12 Gamecocks rallied from a 14-6 halftime deficit to defeat the Florida Gators, 19-14, on November 16, 2013 at Williams-Brice Stadium in front of a home season-high crowd of 83,853. Elliott Fry booted a career-high four field goals and little-used tailback Shon Carson rushed for 102 yards on 13 carries, including a key fourth-quarter 58-yard burst that led to the game-winning points. Bruce Ellington scored Carolina’s only TD on a 32-yard pass from Connor Shaw in the third quarter. The Gamecock defense pitched a shutout in the second half, holding the Gators to 130 total yards over the final two periods.

THE LAST TIME THEY MET IN GAINESVILLE: No. 9/8 South Carolina was unable to overcome four costly turnovers as it fell to No. 3/4 Florida, 44-11 on October 30, 2012 in “The Swamp.” In a game in which neither offense could muster much of an attack, the Gamecocks actually outgained the Gators, 191-183, but the turnovers allowed Florida an average starting field position of the 50-yard line. The Gators had nearly as many points (21) in the first half as they did yards gained (29), but their three scoring drives started at the Carolina 2-, 29- and 1-yard line. The Carolina defense forced seven “three-and-outs” in the game. Adam Yates kicked three field goals and Victor Hampton scored on a blocked PAT return to account for Carolina’s points.

ROAD WARRIORS: South Carolina is 1-2 on the road this season with two road games remaining, but are 13-7 in their last 20 true road contests. Five of the seven road losses in that stretch came to teams ranked in the top 11 in the country: at No. 8 Arkansas in 2011, at No. 9 LSU and No. 3 Florida in 2012, at No. 11 Georgia in 2013, and at No. 5 Auburn this season. They have also lost to a pair of unranked teams in Tennessee (2013) and Kentucky (2014).

MAKING A POINT: The Gamecocks are on pace to score 467 points this season (35.9 ppg) if they play 13 games. That puts them ahead of the record-setting mark of 443 points scored, set last season. The school record for points per game is 36.5, set in 1995 in an 11-game season (401 total points).

FINISH STRONG: The Gamecocks have three regular season games remaining – at Florida, vs. South Alabama and at Clemson. They need two wins to secure their 10th-straight bowl eligible season. The Gamecocks have been a strong closer of late. They won the final four games of the 2011 season, the final five games of the 2012 season and a school-best six-consecutive wins to close the 2013 season.

THE LAST TIME OUT: The Gamecocks held a two touchdown lead in the fourth quarter, only to see it evaporate for a third time this season in a 45-42 overtime loss to Tennessee in Columbia on November 1. It was the first overtime game ever played at Williams-Brice Stadium. The Gamecocks rolled up a season-high 625 yards, 377 through the air and 248 on the ground, but surrendered 645 to the Vols in the setback. Pharoh Cooper had a career-day for Carolina, catching a career-high 11 passes for a school record 233 yards and two touchdowns, including an 85-yard TD catch. Cooper also scored on an 11-yard run and completed a 30-yard pass for another score. Brandon Wilds also had his best game as a Gamecock, carrying just eight times for 143 yards and two scores, including a career-long 70-yard burst. Dylan Thompson completed 20-of-32 passes for 347 yards and two scores, but was sacked five times, including twice in the overtime period. Jonathan Walton, starting in place of the injured Skai Moore, paced the team with 11 tackles.

SUPER COOPER: Sophomore wide receiver Pharoh Cooper had one of the top games recorded by a Gamecock against Tennessee. The 5-11, 201-pounder from Havelock, N.C. caught a career-high 11 passes for a school record 233 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed three times for 23 yards and a score, and completed 1-of-2 passes for 30 yards and a touchdown. He became the first Gamecock since Connor Shaw in the 2014 Capital One Bowl to account for touchdowns via the run, pass and catch. In addition, he recovered the Vols’ onside kick attempt late in the contest, that appeared to have sealed the win.

HALF A GRAND: The Gamecocks totaled 500 yards at Kentucky, collected 548 yards against Furman, added another 535 at Auburn before rolling up a season high 625 yards against Tennessee, the third-highest single-game tally under Steve Spurrier. That marks the first time in school history that South Carolina has put together four-straight games of 500-plus yards of offense. Logging 500 yards of offense in three-straight games had only happened twice previously – first in 1987, then again in 1995.

THAT SETS A RECORD: Elliott Fry has set the school record for consecutive extra points made with 89. He made his first six as a true freshman before missing at Georgia last season. He hit his final 48 of the 2013 season and has connected on all 41 this season. Fry broke Scott Hagler’s mark of 82, set from 1984-86.

THAT’S ANOTHER CAROLINA…: The Gamecocks lead the SEC in first downs per game, averaging 25.8 first downs each contest. With 232 first downs through nine games, the Gamecocks are well on their way to breaking the school record of 291, set last season.

JUST GO FOR IT: The Gamecocks have converted 11-of-16 fourth-down conversion attempts this season. The 11 conversions lead the SEC, while the 16 tries is even with Ole Miss behind only Kentucky (20). The Gamecocks nearly pulled off the upset at Auburn when they went for it on six-of-seven fourth down situations, converting five, four of which came inside South Carolina territory, all between the 33- and 40-yard lines.

THROWIN’ IN THE WIND: Fifth-year senior Dylan Thompson has taken virtually every meaningful snap for the Gamecocks 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 7-5 as a starter, is one of only 13 players in school history to throw for over 3,000 yards and one of only 10 players to throw for over 4,000 yards. He has thrown for over 300 yards in a game on five occasions and has thrown at least three touchdown passes in a game four times.

THOMPSON IN 2014: Dylan Thompson has completed 60.9 percent of his passes this season (195-for-320) for 2,588 yards with 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He ranks second in the SEC and 17th in the country in passing yards per game (287.6), is third in the SEC and 26th in the country in total offense per game (285.1), and his 22 TD passes ranks second in the SEC and 16th in the country. His best game came when he threw for 402 yards, the fifth-best single-game performance in school history, with a school record-tying five touchdown passes at Auburn.

WHAT A PACE: Senior quarterback Dylan Thompson is on pace for a record-setting season. He has thrown for 2,588 yards (287.6 yards per game) and 22 touchdowns (2.4 per game).

SIX WITH FIVE: Dylan Thompson became the sixth player in Carolina history and the first since Syvelle Newton in 2006 to throw five touchdowns in a game when he accomplished the feat on his birthday at Auburn.

BE LIKE MIKE: Junior tailback Mike Davis is playing more like the player that earned preseason All-America recognition. The 5-9, 223-pounder from Atlanta, Ga., has rushed 158 times for 819 yards and a team-high eight rushing scores. He is sixth in the SEC in rushing yards per game at 91.0 and is tied for seventh in touchdowns with nine. He has four 100-yard rushing games, posting an 18-carry, 101-yard, 2 TD effort against East Carolina, carrying 22 times for 104 yards and a score against Missouri, going for a career-high 183 yards on 23 carries with three scores at Kentucky, then rumbling for 111 yards and 2 TDs on 18 carries against Furman. He logged the fourth-most single-season rushing yards in school history last season when he rambled for 1,183 yards with 11 touchdowns. In his third season at Carolina, he became the 16th player in school history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a career. Davis is the younger brother of former Clemson standout James Davis.

IN ELITE COMPANY: Mike Davis has logged 11 100-yard rushing games in his career, tying him with Brandon Bennett, Harold Green and Marcus Lattimore for second on the all-time list behind only George Rogers.

RUNNING WILDS: Junior Brandon Wilds (6-2, 230) has logged 445 yards on 71 attempts this season, averaging 6.3 yards per carry. He became the 42nd player in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in his career. As a true freshman in 2011, he posted three 100-yard rushing games as a freshman, including a then-career-high 137 against Tennessee, but was injured much of his sophomore campaign. He likes to run against the Vols, as he posted a career-high 143-yard, two-touchdown effort on just eight carries against Tennessee this season for his fourth-career 100-yard game, including a career-best 70-yard burst.

THESE FOUR ARE CATCHING ON: The Gamecocks feature four wide receivers that receive the bulk of the action:

An All-SEC Freshman selection last season as both an all-purpose back and return specialist, Pharoh Cooper is the Gamecocks’ top pass catcher with 51 receptions (5.7/game, 2nd in the SEC), for 786 receiving yards (87.3/game, 2nd in the SEC) and eight TDs. He had a breakout game at Vanderbilt, catching 10 passes for 114 yards, surpassed that with a seven-catch, 127-yard, 2 TD effort at Auburn, then went for a career-high 11 receptions for a school record 223 yards and two scores against Tennessee.

Fifth-year senior Nick “Governor Nicky” Jones has been consistent and sometimes overlooked throughout his career. He just has a knack for getting open and catching the ball. He logged his first 100-yard receiving game against Texas A&M, catching five passes for a 113 yards and two scores, including a 69-yard TD reception. He is second on the squad in receptions (32), receiving yards (413) and TD receptions (4).

Junior Shaq Roland is a former “Mr. Football” in the state of South Carolina, following in the footsteps of Stephon Gilmore, Marcus Lattimore and Jadeveon Clowney. He came on strong at the end of the 2013 season, posting a career-high 112 receiving yards in the 2014 Capital One Bowl win over Wisconsin. This season, he had a career-high seven catches for 94 yards against East Carolina and has 21 catches for 300 yards and four scores.

Senior Damiere Byrd (5-9, 170) is the fastest Gamecock. He has eight career receptions of 40 yards or more, including a 46-yard TD catch against Texas A&M, is a three-time CoSIDA Academic All-District selection, is a semifinalist for the Campbell Trophy and was a captain on the Gamecocks’ track & field squad. This season he had four catches at Kentucky, while two of his 12 receptions have gone for touchdowns.

CANN DO: Senior left guard A.J. Cann made his 47th career start against Tennessee. He is tied for second on the Gamecocks’ all-time list and one of only 11 players in school history to make 40 or more starts for the Garnet & Black.

THE SKAI’S THE LIMIT: Skai Moore, a 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. This season, he was named to Phil Steele’s Midseason All-SEC second team. He has led the team in tackles four times with seven stops against East Carolina, a career-best 10 vs. Georgia, nine more tackles at Kentucky and eight at Auburn. He sat out the Tennessee game with sprained ankle.

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 33 times in his career. He has 24 tackles, including 21 solo stops, owns two of the team’s five interceptions and has a team-high five pass breakups. He turned the Vandy game around with his 53-yard interception return for a touchdown.

PICK THIS: The Gamecocks intercepted 18 passes a season ago, led by linebacker Skai Moore’s four INTs. They have five this season, two against East Carolina, Brison Williams’ pick-six at Vanderbilt, one against Furman and one vs. Tennessee.

THE FRISCO KID: Elliott Fry continues to be a bright spot on special teams. A midseason first-team All-SEC selection by Phil Steele, Fry missed his only field goal attempt in the opener against A&M (from 54 yards out) before hitting each of his next 12 attempts, three shy of the school record, set by Collin Mackie. Two of the Lou Groza semifinalist’s misses have come from beyond 50 yards. 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 is third in the SEC with 12 field goals and is second in the league in points scored by kicking, averaging 8.6 per game. Fry walked on to the squad last summer and earned the starting placekicking chores. The Frisco, Texas product who also deals with Type 1 diabetes, went 15-for-18 in field goal attempts and hit 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. He has made a school record 89 consecutive extra points.

HULL OF A PUNTER: Senior Tyler Hull, who is on the Ray Guy Watch List, 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 to date, punting 27 times for a 41.7-yard average, which ranks ninth in the SEC.

EVERY TIME OUT: The Gamecocks have had seven players start every game 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, DB Brison Williams and S T.J. Gurley have been starters in each contest.

UP NEXT: South Carolina will return to Williams-Brice Stadium for Senior Day and the final home game of the 2014 season when it hosts South Alabama in a non-conference game on Saturday, November 22. It will mark the first meeting ever between the Gamecocks and Jaguars (5-4) out of the Sun Belt Conference. Game time is set for noon and the game will be televised on Fox Sports South with Bob Rathbun and Tim Couch in the booth and Olivia Harlan on the sidelines.