Gamecocks Travel to Tennessee for Saturday Showdown
QUICKLY: The South Carolina Gamecocks (2-2, 1-1 SEC) are back on the road this week as they travel to Knoxville, Tenn. for an SEC Eastern Division showdown with the No. 21/19 Tennessee Volunteers (3-1, 0-1 SEC). The contest at Neyland Stadium (101,915) is set for a 7:30 pm kick.
OVER THE AIRWAVES: This week’s game will be televised by the SEC Network. Tom Hart will handle the play-by play while Jordan Rodgers adds the color commentary. Cole Cubelic will patrol the sidelines. The Gamecock Sports Radio Network features a pair of Gamecock Great quarterbacks in Todd Ellis (32nd season) and Tommy Suggs (51st season) in the booth. Chet Tucker is in his first season as the sideline reporter.
GAMECOCK REWIND: The Gamecocks are 2-2 on the season including a 1-1 mark in SEC play. They opened the season with a 31-17 setback to No. 21/20 North Carolina in the Duke’s Mayo Classic, held in Charlotte, N.C., then bounced back with a convincing 47-21 win over Furman, the sixth-ranked team in the FCS. The Gamecocks opened SEC play at two-time defending national champion Georgia in Week 3. South Carolina took a 14-3 lead into intermission, but the top-ranked Bulldogs rallied for a 24-14 win. Carolina again rebounded with a 37-30 win over Mississippi State in Columbia last Saturday night. The Gamecocks have been led all season by quarterback Spencer Rattler and wide receiver Xavier Legette. Rattler has completed 95-of-128 passes (74.2 pct.) for 1,242 yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions. He ranks sixth in the nation in passing yards per game and 12th in completion percentage. Legette has caught 27 passes for 556 yards, an average of 20.6 yards per catch and 139.0 yards per game, with three touchdowns. He leads all FBS players in receiving yards through four games.
It’s fun here 🤙 pic.twitter.com/6fFsIslMgg
— Gamecock Football (@GamecockFB) September 26, 2023
WEARING THE PATCH: Coach To Cure MD is a partnership between the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), a professional organization for over 10,000 college football coaches and staff, and Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD), the largest national charity devoted exclusively to Duchenne (pronounced DOO-SHIN) muscular dystrophy. The South Carolina coaching staff and coaching staffs around the country are wearing patches on their sleeves this week to raise awareness of Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
CAROLINA VS. TENNESSEE: This is the 42nd gridiron meeting between the Gamecocks and Volunteers in a series that dates back to 1903. Tennessee leads the all-time series, 28-11-2, including an 18-3 advantage in Knoxville and a 10-8-2 mark in Columbia. The teams have met every year since Carolina joined the SEC for the 1992 season, with the Volunteers winning 21 of the 31 meetings as conference rivals. The Gamecocks defeated Tennessee just three times in a 105-year period from 1903-2007 but have won eight times in the last 15 years from 2008-22, including four of the last seven contests.
IT USED TO BE CLOSE: After playing eight of nine games from 2012-20 that were decided by six points or less, including seven straight from 2012-2018, the last two contests have been one-sided affairs. Tennessee rolled up a 45-20 win in Knoxville in 2021, but the Gamecocks returned the favor with a 63-38 rout in Columbia last season. The 63 points and 25-point margin of victory were both high marks for the Gamecocks in this rivalry.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: Carolina put together arguably the best offensive game in school history in a 63-38 rout of No. 5 Tennessee in Columbia on Nov. 19, 2022. The Gamecocks scored touchdowns on nine of 10 possessions with one punt. For its efforts, South Carolina was selected as the Cheez-It Bowl National Team of the Week and Shane Beamer was recognized as the Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Week.
MAKING A POINT: The Gamecocks put up 63 points against Tennessee last season:
* It was the second-highest point total scored by Carolina in an SEC game behind only the 65 tallied against Mississippi State in 1995.
* It was the most points by a Carolina team against a top-5 opponent. The previous high was 35, accomplished several times.
* It was the most points scored by an unranked team against an A.P. top-5 opponent in the poll era (since 1936).
* It was the most points ever scored by an unranked SEC team vs a ranked SEC team in regulation.
* It was the most points ever allowed by Tennessee in an SEC game.
THAT’S ANOTHER CAROLINA FIRST DOWN: The Gamecocks logged 35 first downs in the 2022 win over Tennessee. That set a new school single-game record, surpassing the old mark of 34, set against Mississippi State in 1995 and matched against Vanderbilt in 2001. The Gamecocks had 12 first downs via the run, 19 through the air and four on penalties against the Vols. Carolina had not recorded more than 17 first downs in any of the previous five games leading up to the Tennessee tilt.
SIMPLY THE BEST: Spencer Rattler had maybe the best game by a quarterback in school history in the 2022 win over UT. Rattler completed 30-of-37 passes for 438 yards and a school-record six TDs with no picks. The 30 completions, 438 yards and six TDs were all then-career highs. The 438 yards was the fourth-highest single game mark in school history. Rattler was selected as the Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week, the CFPA National Performer of the Week and the co-SEC Offensive Player of the Week.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET HERE: Tennessee scored early and often in a 45-20 win over the Gamecocks in Knoxville on Oct. 9, 2021. The Volunteers put up 28 first-quarter points and took a 38-7 lead into intermission. Hendon Hooker was 17-of-23 for 225 yards with three TD passes and added 66 yards on 20 carries on the ground to lead UT. Luke Doty was 19-for-31 for 167 yards to Carolina. The Vols rolled up 472 yards of offense to 370 for the Gamecocks.
WHATEVER IT TAKES: South Carolina has played seven overtime games in its history, logging a 3-4 mark in those contests that needed more than 60 minutes to decide. Tennessee has been the opponent in three of the seven overtime games and accounted for three of the Gamecocks’ four overtime losses, all decided by a field goal.
GOOD OL’ ROCKY TOP: Head coach Shane Beamer was a Tennessee G.A. in 2002 and 2003 under Phillip Fulmer. Running backs coach Montario Hardesty is a former UT running back, a 2009 grad and worked for the Vols in 2018 as a quality control coach. Offensive line analyst Greg Adkins served on the UT staff from 2003-08. Defensive back DeAngelo Gibbs graduated from UT in 2022.