Gamecocks vs Gamecocks Saturday at Williams-Brice
After back-to-back road games, the South Carolina Gamecocks (2-6, 1-5 SEC) return to the friendly confines of Williams-Brice Stadium (77,559) in Columbia, S.C. to host the Jacksonville State Gamecocks (7-2, 5-1 C-USA) out of Conference USA in a non-conference tilt on Saturday, Nov. 4. Game time has been set for noon ET and the contest will be televised nationally on ESPNU. South Carolina is looking to snap a four-game losing streak and keep its bowl hopes alive, while Jacksonville State enters the contest as winners of its last two and five of its last six contests.
OVER THE AIRWAVES: This week’s contest will be televised nationally on ESPNU. South Carolina has appeared on ESPNU just once since the 2015 season, posting a 56-20 win over Charlotte last season. Brian Custer will provide the play-by play while Rod Gilmore adds the color commentary. Lauren Sisler will handle the sideline duties. 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.
WELCOME BACK: Festivities around this week’s game include a reunion of the 2010-2013 South Carolina football teams. That four-year period under head coach Steve Spurrier denotes the best stretch of football at the University, with the 2010 team representing the Eastern Division in the SEC Championship game, then the 2011-13 squads posting consecutive 11-win seasons and top-10 national finishes. The 2013 squad won its final five games to finish fourth in the final Associated Press poll, the best mark in school history.
GAMECOCK REWIND: The Gamecocks are 2-6 in 2023 including a 1-5 mark in SEC play. Four of their six losses have come to teams ranked in the AP Top-25 while five of the six losses have come away from Williams-Brice Stadium. The eight teams that Carolina has played have a combined 48-16 record. South Carolina opened the season with a 31-17 loss to No. 21 North Carolina in the Duke’s Mayo Classic in Charlotte, before posting 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 held a 14-3 lead at intermission, but the top-ranked Bulldogs rallied for a 24-14 win. Carolina rebounded with a 37-30 win over Mississippi State in Columbia to even its record at 2-2. The Gamecocks have lost their last four, falling at No. 21 Tennessee by a 41-20 count, surrendering a 10-point fourth quarter lead in a 41-39 home loss to Florida, then dropping a 34-12 decision at No. 20 Missouri before coming out on the short end of a 30-17 decision at Texas A&M last week. The Gamecocks have been led all season by quarterback Spencer Rattler and wide receiver Xavier Legette. Rattler has completed 185-of-266 passes for 2,117 yards with 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. He ranks 35th in the nation with 264.6 passing yards per game and is 15th with a 69.5 percent completion rate. Legette has caught 41 passes for 756 yards, averaging 18.4 yards per catch and 94.5 yards per game, with three touchdowns. He ranks 12th among all FBS players in receiving yards per game and is 24th in yards per reception.
A LITTLE HISTORY: 2023 marks the 130th season of intercollegiate football at the University of South Carolina, dating back to 1892. It is the 117th-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 631-612-44, a .507 winning pct. Since the start of the 21st century, Carolina is 165-130, a .559 mark.
BATTLE OF THE GAMECOCKS: For the first time in history, two college institutions with the nickname “Gamecocks” will battle on the gridiron when South Carolina hosts Jacksonville State.
ABOUT JSU: The next era of Jacksonville State Athletics got underway on July 1, 2023, when the Gamecocks officially became members of Conference USA. Jax State accepted C-USA’s invitation to join the league in November of 2021 and immediately got to work on its application for the league and specifically Football’s Bowl Subdivision. The Gamecocks saw that work come to fruition on July 1, when they joined eight other programs to make up the new-look conference that has been a force in Division I athletics since 1995. C-USA is Jax State’s third Division I conference home after spending 18 years in the Ohio Valley Conference and 10 total years in the ASUN, which was the Gamecocks’ first Div. I conference home from 1995-03 and again from 2021-23.
BEEN HERE, DONE THAT: Jacksonville State will be playing its second game of the 2023 season in the Palmetto State. They went to Conway on Sept. 9 and suffered a 30-16 loss to the Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina in a non-conference game.
THEY COME TO SEE CAROLINA PLAY: The South Carolina Gamecocks have played in front of a sold-out stadium six times this season. South Carolina has sold out all three of its home games, drawing 78,281 in the home opener against Furman, 78,311 in the SEC home opener versus Mississippi State, and a season-high 79,247 against Florida in the annual Homecoming game. The Gamecocks rank 15th in the country in average home attendance at 78,613 and have announced a sellout in 10 of its last 11 home games. The Gamecocks also played in front of sold-out crowds of 92,746 at Georgia, 101,915 at Tennessee and 62,621 at Missouri this season. Last week’s attendance of 95,297 at Texas A&M was not a sellout.
IT JUST MEANS MORE: The South Carolina Gamecocks are 41-14 in their last 55 non-conference games, a .745 winning percentage, with seven of the 14 losses in that stretch coming against Clemson. The Gamecocks went 4-1 against non-conference foes in 2022, posting wins over Georgia State, Charlotte, South Carolina State and Clemson and losing to Notre Dame in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. The Gamecocks are 1-1 in non-conference games this season, losing to North Carolina in the season opener in Charlotte, then defeating Furman at home the following week. South Carolina’s fourth and final non-conference game of the 2023 season is set for Nov. 25 in the annual Palmetto Bowl with the Clemson Tigers. That contest is also slated for Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia.
PROTECT THIS HOUSE: Carolina has won 37 of its last 43 home games against non-conference foes. The Gamecocks had put together a school-record 22-straight home game winning streak against non-conference teams before dropping the final two games of the 2015 regular season to The Citadel and Clemson. The Gamecocks were 3-0 in home non-conference games in 2022, posting wins over Georgia State, Charlotte, and South Carolina State. They are 1-0 this season with a win over Furman.
THE POWER OF FIVE: Since the turn of the century, the Gamecocks have a 53-4 mark (.930) against teams not currently in a Power-5 conference. The only four losses in that stretch came to UConn in the 2010 Papajohns.com Bowl, to The Citadel in 2015, to USF in the 2016 Birmingham Bowl and to Appalachian State in 2019. It should be noted that UConn was in the Big East, which was a BCS automatic qualifier during the 2009 season.
SCHEDULING QUIRK: South Carolina played its final road game of the regular season last week at Texas A&M. The Gamecocks’ final four games will all be played at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia during the month of November. South Carolina is the only school in the FBS to have each of its final four games of the 2023 regular season at home. The Gamecocks will host Jacksonville State, Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Clemson in the month of November.
BATTLE TESTED: South Carolina and Notre Dame were the only schools that played four ranked opponents through the first eight weeks of the season. The Gamecocks opened the 2023 season with a loss to No. 21 North Carolina before falling at top-ranked Georgia two weeks later. The gauntlet continued with a loss at No. 21 Tennessee to close out September. They also lost at No. 20 Missouri. The eight opponents that Carolina has played are a combined 48-16. Removing games involving FCS teams, South Carolina’s opponents played are 42-14, a .750 winning percentage, the top mark in the FBS. South Carolina is the only team in the country that has 11 of its 12 regular season opponents currently owning a record of .500 or better. Vanderbilt is the only opponent on the slate with a losing mark. Going back to last season, seven of South Carolina’s last 11 opponents were ranked in the AP Top-25 at the time of the game.