Week 3: Kentucky

The Gamecocks have their first home game of the season Sunday morning against a challenging Kentucky squad. Here's some thoughts:

  • Kentucky brings a 3-game win streak into the game, which is a travesty. Mark Stoops has done a great job in 4+ years as head coach, drastically improving recruiting and tying for 2nd in the SEC East last season. If the Gamecocks want to be better than mediocre, however, they need to get back to beating Kentucky year in, year out.
  • The atmosphere at Williams-Brice should be the best it has been in years. The game is officially a sell-out, and fans are looking forward to finally seeing a good product on the field. There's also been several enhancements to the atmosphere which should step things up a notch. Muschamp has declared the game a blackout, and although I would normally say we shouldn't be making such a big deal about Kentucky, you have to consider the win streak mentioned above. I'm not sure Kentucky is prepared for environment they're going to witness inside the stadium.
  • Kentucky will be without their best player on defense as LB Jordan Jones is out with a shoulder injury. This is a big loss and should open things up for Hayden Hurst and the running game.
  • The Wildcats haven't looked super sharp in their first two games against lesser competition. The defense has been fairly solid, but the offense seems to have been mostly pedestrian so far.
  • The Wildcats have been able to run the ball all they wanted the last few games against the Gamecocks, but this year they're without Boom Williams and Jo Jo Kemp, and the offensive line has been suspect. Benny Snell is a good back, however, and I still think they'll have some success and get some yards, but I expect the Gamecocks' excellent red-zone defense to continue to keep teams out of the end zone.
  • The Gamecocks opened as 5-point favorites, with the odds quickly climbing to as much as 7.5 points. The line currently sits at 5.5. This is the first game SC has been favored in so far this year.
  • If South Carolina wins, they'll likely enter the Top 25 for the first time since their loss to Missouri on September 27, 2014.

Unlike past years, I think the Gamecocks have the edge in talent in almost every position. They've also demonstrated that their preparation has been second to none. I expect the Gamecocks to make it to 3 - 0.

Prediction: USC 31 - Kentucky 24

You can see last year's game against the Wildcats below.