Gamecocks and Wildcats Set to Tangle Saturday Night
The South Carolina Gamecocks (4-6, 2-5 SEC) wrap up the Southeastern Conference portion of their 2023 slate when they host the Kentucky Wildcats (6-4, 3-4 SEC) in an SEC Eastern Division matchup on Saturday, Nov. 18. Game time has been set for 7:30 pm ET and the contest will be televised on the SEC Network. South Carolina is looking to extend its winning streak to three and keep its bowl hopes alive, while Kentucky enters the contest having dropped four of its last five games after opening the season with five-straight victories.
OVER THE AIRWAVES: This week’s contest will be televised on the SEC Network. Tom Hart will provide the play-by play while Jordan Rodgers adds the color commentary. Cole Cubelic 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.
SANDSTORM ALERT: In conjunction with corporate partners Ariat and Harrison’s, Finnish DJ and producer Darude will be in the house on Saturday. He will perform a one-hour DJ set in Gamecock Village presented by Farm Bureau Insurance begining at 4:15 p.m. and will serve as the celebrity starter.
GAMECOCK REWIND: The Gamecocks are 4-6 in 2023 including a 2-5 mark in SEC play. Four of their six losses came to teams ranked in the AP Top-25 while five of the six losses have come away from Williams-Brice Stadium. The 10 teams that Carolina has played have a combined 66-35 record, a .653 winning percentage. South Carolina opened the season falling to No. 21 North Carolina in the Duke’s Mayo Classic in Charlotte, before posting a convincing win over FCS nationally-ranked Furman. The Gamecocks dropped their SEC opener at two-time defending national champion Georgia but evened their mark at 2-2 with a home win over Mississippi State. The Gamecocks dropped their next four, all conference games, losing at No. 21 Tennessee, surrendering a 10-point fourth quarter lead in a home loss to Florida, then dropping decisions at No. 20 Missouri and at Texas A&M. Carolina has rebounded with back-to-back wins over Jacksonville State and Vanderbilt to keep its bowl hopes alive. The Gamecocks have been led all season by quarterback Spencer Rattler and wide receiver Xavier Legette. Rattler has completed 240-of-340 passes for 2,867 yards with 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He ranks third in the SEC and 14th in the nation with 286.7 passing yards per game and is fourth in the SEC and eighth in the country with a 70.6 percent completion rate. Legette has caught 59 passes for 1,093 yards, averaging 109.3 yards per game and 18.5 yards per catch with five touchdowns. He ranks second in the league and fifth among all FBS players in receiving yards per game and is third in the SEC and 20th in the country in yards per reception.
THEY COME TO SEE THE GAMECOCKS PLAY: The Gamecocks have played in front of a sold-out stadium six times this season. Carolina has sold out three of its five 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 for Homecoming. The Gamecocks rank 17th in the country in average home attendance at 77,374 and have announced a sellout in 10 of its last 13 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. The second-largest attended game of 95,297 at Texas A&M was not a sellout.
CAROLINA VS. KENTUCKY: This is the 35th meeting between the Gamecocks and Wildcats in a series that dates back to 1937. Carolina leads the all-time series 19-14-1, including a 9-6-1 advantage in Columbia and a 10-8 mark in Lexington. 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 an 18-13 record against Kentucky, including wins in 15 of the 23 meetings in this century.
A SERIES 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 seven of the last nine overall.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: South Carolina went into a sold-out Kroger Field in Lexington on Oct. 8, 2022, and handed the 13th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats a 24-14 setback. MarShawn Lloyd rushed for 110 yards on 22 carries and Spencer Rattler completed 14-of-19 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown. The Gamecocks took the lead just 13 seconds into the contest and never trailed. The game was deadlocked at 7 at the intermission, but Carolina scored the next 17 points to earn the upset win. The Gamecock defense held UK to just 299 total yards.
NATIONAL RECOGNITION: Following the upset win at No. 13 Kentucky in 2022, South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer was selected as the Dodd Trophy National Coach of the Week. The win marked the first win over a ranked opponent in the Shane Beamer Era at South Carolina.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET HERE: Chris Rodriguez ran for 144 yards on 26 carries and Matt Ruffolo connected on three field goals to lift Kentucky to a 16-10 win over South Carolina in Columbia on Sept. 25, 2021. The Wildcats took a 10-0 lead into the intermission before South Carolina cut the margin to three early in the third period. Ruffolo countered with a pair of field goals, the last one with under five minutes remaining to put Kentucky ahead by nine. The Carolina defense forced three turnovers, but the offense could generate just 216 total yards in the loss. Luke Doty was 17-for-25 for 158 yards.
THE LAST GAMECOCK WIN IN COLUMBIA: 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.
HAVE TO SCORE TWENTY-FOUR: When the Gamecocks won 13 of 14 games from 2000-2013, they averaged 30.7 points per game, including a 10-year stretch (2005-14) in which they scored no fewer than 24 points in any game, going 8-2 in those 10 contests. In the last eight games in which South Carolina has only won twice, the Gamecocks have been held under 24 points six times, all losses. They won the two games when scoring 24 points.
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 633-612-44, a .508 winning percentage. Since the start of the 21st century, Carolina is 167-130, a .562 mark.
SCHEDULING QUIRK: South Carolina played its final road game of the regular season in the last week of October at Texas A&M. The Gamecocks’ final four games are all scheduled for 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.
THEY REMEMBER NOVEMBER: The Gamecocks are 2-0 in the month of November, have won their last four games in November dating back to last season and are 7-3 in November during the Shane Beamer Era at South Carolina. The Gamecocks have not gone 4-0 in November since 2013.
BATTLE TESTED: South Carolina has faced one of the toughest schedules in the nation, including four ranked opponents in nine weeks. The Gamecocks opened the 2023 season playing No. 21 North Carolina before falling at top-ranked Georgia two weeks later. The gauntlet continued at No. 21 Tennessee to close out September and a game at No. 20 Missouri two weeks later. The nine opponents that Carolina has played are a combined 66-35. Removing games involving FCS teams, South Carolina’s opponents played are 60-31, a .659 winning percentage, tying for the sixth-best mark in the FBS. Ten of its 12 regular season opponents own a record of .500 or better. Mississippi State and Vanderbilt are the only opponents on the slate with a losing mark. Going back to last season, seven of South Carolina’s last 13 opponents were ranked in the AP Top-25 at the time of the game.