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Gamecocks and Wildcats Meet Saturday Night
Football  . 

Gamecocks and Wildcats Meet Saturday Night

SEC Home Opener Set for 7 pm Sept. 25

It’s the SEC home lidlifter for first-year head coach Shane Beamer as the South Carolina Gamecocks (2-1, 0-1 SEC) host the Kentucky Wildcats (3-0, 1-0 SEC) in a 7 pm ET game on Saturday, Sept. 25, at Williams-Brice Stadium (77,559) in Columbia. The SEC Eastern Division matchup will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
OVER THE AIRWAVES: Brian Custer will call the action for the deuce. He will be joined in the booth by Kelly Stouffer. Lauren Sisler will patrol the sidelines. The familiar voices of Carolina Hall of Famers Todd Ellis and Tommy Suggs handle the call for the Gamecock Radio Network with Jamar Nesbit on the sidelines.
A LITTLE HISTORY: 2021 marks the 128th season of intercollegiate football at the University of South Carolina dating back to 1892. It is the 115th-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 616-596-44, a .508 winning pct.
IT JUST MEANS MORE: The 2021 season marks South Carolina’s 30th year in the Southeastern Conference. South Carolina and Arkansas joined the league prior to the 1992 campaign. The Gamecocks earned the SEC Eastern Division title in the 2010 season. The Gamecocks are 99-135-1 (.423) all-time in SEC regular-season play.
CAROLINA VS. KENTUCKY: This is the 33rd meeting between the Gamecocks and Wildcats in a series that dates back to 1937. Carolina leads the all-time series 18-13-1, including a 9-5-1 advantage in Columbia. The teams played just three times (1937, 1978 and 1981) before Carolina joined the SEC in 1992. Since then, they have met every year. Since joining the SEC, the Gamecocks own a 17-12 record against UK, including wins in 14 of the 21 meetings in this century.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: Due to COVID altering the schedule, the Gamecocks and Wildcats did not meet until the final regular season game of the 2020 season, a Dec. 5 contest in Lexington. Kentucky posted a 41-18 win over Carolina that night, the largest margin of victory for the Cats in 32 meetings with the Gamecocks. Both teams moved the ball effectively on the ground, with South Carolina rushing for 297 yards, behind Kevin Harris‘s 210 yards on 21 carries. Kentucky countered with 291 rushing yards as Chris Rodriguez Jr. and A.J. Rose each went over the century mark. Luke Doty, making just his second career start at quarterback, completed 11-of-25 passes for 85 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET HERE: Tavien Feaster (107) and Rico Dowdle (102) combined for 209 rushing yards, nearly matching Kentucky’s entire offensive output of 212 yards, as the Gamecocks rolled to an easy 24-7 win in Columbia on Sept. 28, 2019. Feaster scored twice and Dowdle once as the Gamecocks rolled up 387 yards in the win. The Carolina defense pitched a shutout until Kentucky finally got on the board with just 2:32 left in the contest. The seven points was the fewest the Wildcats had scored against the Gamecocks since being held to three points in the 2011 contest. The Carolina win snapped a five-game losing streak in the all-time series.
A GAME OF RUNS: South Carolina won 10-straight games over Kentucky from 2000-2009, and 13-of-14 from 2000-2013. Since then, the Wildcats posted five-straight wins from 2014-18 and have won six of the last seven overall.
OLD FRIEND ALERT: Kentucky offensive line coach Eric Wolford, has logged two stints on the South Carolina coaching staff. Wolf served as the run game coordinator and offensive line coach under Steve Spurrier during the 2009 season, then returned to Columbia for four seasons (2017-20) as the offensive line coach under Will Muschamp.
ABOUT LAST WEEK: South Carolina forced three turnovers but the Georgia Bulldogs showed why they were the second-ranked team in the country, as they posted a 40-13 win over South Carolina in Athens last Saturday night. JT Daniels threw for 303 yards and three touchdowns to lead the undefeated Bulldogs. Josh Vann turned in a second-straight big game for Carolina, catching three passes for 128 yards and a score. Jaylan Foster picked off two passes, giving him three on the season.
QUARTERBACK SHUFFLE: Former graduate assistant coach Zeb Noland made his third-straight start for the Gamecocks at Georgia and completed a 61-yard pass to Josh Vann on the first offensive series, but had his hand stepped on early in the contest and was unable to continue. Luke Doty took over the reins in his first action this season. Doty, who was the projected starter at QB, had been sidelined since suffering a mid-foot sprain in his left foot on August 13. Doty responded by going 13-for-26 for 153 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also rushed six times for 15 yards.
GONE GREENE: Fifth-year senior Sherrod Greene, the Gamecocks’ top linebacker, suffered a serious lower leg injury on the second play from scrimmage in the loss at Georgia and will be out for an extended period of time after undergoing surgery. It’s the second-straight year that the season ended very early on for Greene, as he suffered a fracture in his hip in the 2020 season opener against Tennessee and missed the remainder of the season.
VANN IS THE MAN: Senior wide receiver Josh Vann continues to impress and has established himself as the Gamecocks’ top wide receiver. The Tucker, Ga. native caught three passes for a career-high 128 yards in the loss at Georgia. Included was a career-long 61-yard reception on the first series from scrimmage and a 36-yard touchdown reception. He was credited with one more receiving yard than he had in the previous game at East Carolina.
REMEMBERING DEEBO: With back-to-back games of 127 receiving yards at East Carolina and 128 at Georgia, Josh Vann is the first Gamecock to record consecutive 100-yard receiving games since Deebo Samuel went for 112 vs Chattanooga and 210 at Clemson at the end of the 2018 regular season.
FOSTER JUBILEE: Sixth-year senior safety Jaylan Foster intercepted a pair of passes Saturday at Georgia, picking off both JT Daniels and Stetson Bennett. Foster became the first Gamecock with two interceptions in a game since Jaycee Horn had a pair against Auburn in 2020. With three interceptions this season, Foster is tied for second in the nation behind Boise State’s Seyi Oladipo (4). The Gamecocks have had just one player (Israel Mukuamu with 4 in 2019) log more than three interceptions in a season since 2015.
YOU GET ONE AND YOU GET ONE: The Gamecocks have intercepted six passes this season, two in each of their three games. Jaylan Foster leads the way with three, while both Jordan Burch and Damani Staley have returned interceptions for scores. The Gamecocks are tied for third in the NCAA in interceptions behind only Boise State and Kent State, who each have eight. South Carolina had eight interceptions in 10 games last season.
SO FAR, SO GOOD: The early returns on the defense under defensive coordinator Clayton White show the Gamecocks are much improved over last year’s unit, despite losing three starters (Jaycee Horn, Ernest Jones and Israel Mukuamu) to the NFL. The Gamecocks are surrendering just 19.0 points and 287.7 yards per game this season. Last year, Carolina allowed 36.0 points and 451.5 yards per contest. In addition, opponents are converting on 30 percent of its third-down opportunities in 2021, compared to 48 percent a year ago.
FINISH STRONG: The Gamecocks have been very good in the fourth quarter of their games this season. Carolina has outscored its opponents by a 27-3 margin in the final period through three contests. The Gamecocks have been outscored by a combined score of 54-52 over the first three quarters of their games so far in 2021.
NEVER SAY NEVER: The Gamecocks overcame a 14-0 deficit to defeat East Carolina, 20-17. The 14-point deficit was the largest that resulted in victory for the Gamecocks since they trailed Michigan by 16 points, 19-3, in the third quarter of the 2018 Outback Bowl before storming back for a 26-19 win.