One thing I never hear about is any fan base hating Vanderbilt. Their in-state rival (Tennessee) couldn't care less about them, although Vanderbilt has amazingly won 3 of the last 5 in that series so this year's match-up could have a little more heat than usual. The reason no one hates Vanderbilt is because they pity them. This team has only had 7 winning seasons since 1959. Chris Lee at vandysports.com took a look at how Derek Mason compares to past Vanderbilt coaches, and pointed out how poorly this team has been since the '60s. Interestingly, Vanderbilt was a consistent national power in the 70 years prior to 1960, having only 9 losing seasons during that span. As Chris Lee explains, Vanderbilt refused to increase athletic scholarships when the NCAA drastically increased the limit, and from that point onward Vanderbilt football has been irrelevant. This is a team that is 'gritty' and 'fights hard' every year according to the media, but then goes and loses 75% of their games. To put plainly, Vanderbilt is not a team you lose to if you are a supposed team on the rise.
- One very interesting stat is that South Carolina and Vanderbilt both have exactly 598 wins entering the game. Vanderbilt does have 40 more losses on the resume, however. South Carolina leads the series 22-4.
- Despite having one of the better running backs in the conference in Ralph Webb, the Commodores are terrible running the ball, averaging less than 93 yards / game. The bad news is that the Gamecocks are not much better, only rushing for just under 111 yards / game, and lost Rico Dowdle for the season last week.
- The Vanderbilt defense looked incredible during the first 3 games of the 2017 season, giving up a total of 13 points. Then they decided they wanted 'Bama, but got obliterated to the tune of 59 points in that game. This apparently gave them a severe case of PTSD, as opponents are averaging almost 47 points / game since then (including the dumpster fire offense of Florida getting 38!!!). Which Vanderbilt defense will show up after the bye? It will be important for the Gamecocks to score early and take them out of the game.
- The Gamecocks are getting Zach Bailey, Cory Helm, and Malik Young back from injuries this week. I think Sadarius Hutcherson and Blake Camper have played well enough the past two games to earn some playing time in the game. We may therefore see some subbing on OL, which should keep everyone more fresh than usual, and allow the Gamecocks to run the ball effectively in the 2nd Half.
- I expect Jake Bentley to be more accurate with his throws after working on his mechanics during the bye. I think we'll see a completion percentage north of 65%.
Vegas has the Gamecocks as 7-point favorites in the game. I think they pull ahead late in the game and beat the spread. Prediction: USC 27 - Vanderbilt 13. The lady of the house has the Gamecocks winning a close one: USC 30 - Vanderbilt 27.
Watch Will Muschamp's first win as a Gamecock below.