We know that Kentucky has stunk up the SEC so far this year, but hope springs eternal in the Big Blue breast, at least for most of us. Those poor, dour folk who have already given up on the season are also welcome to join, but try to smile a little lest you harsh the mellow of us optimistic types.
If you haven't read Ken's game preview below, go do that. Then follow me past the jump for today's tailgate menu.
As usual, in honor of our opponents, we'll be serving up some of their local favorites in the tailgate today. First off, y'all look a little thirsty, so grab a cold drink. Today we're serving a slightly alcoholic twist on sweet ice tea. We also have the original nonalcoholic version for you teetotalers and non-drinkers:
sweet tea mojitos (via ginnerobot)
For most of this menu, we'll be serving classic low-country cuisine, so if you have any seafood allergies, please do let me know. First the apps:
she crab soup (via stu_spivack)
Yeah, that's nice and rich.
For the main event, we'll be serving a classic low-country boil. Just come on over to the table and grab some:
Low country boil made just for you! (via LaMenta3)
Our side will be everyone's favorite:
Mac & cheese! (via ffg)
And since we're in Columbia, we can't forget a little Carolina barbecue for the seafood-allergic:
Carolina-style Pulled Pork (via arnold | inuyaki)
Finally, the one thing no tailgate would be complete without:
Cold beer (via Najots)
So now that you have your food and cold drinks, let's talk a little football.
Kentucky comes to Columbia only half a football team -- no offense. It's really hard to win at football if you can't push the ball across the goal line in some fashion, and Kentucky hasn't been able to do that but twice in the last two games. That's as anemic as it gets.
The defense has been giving a heroic effort, but they just can't be expected to win games in the SEC all by themselves, and so far, they haven't. But as long as they don't give up, against all but the very top teams in the nation, Kentucky could have a theoretical chance. Las Vegas doesn't think the 'Cats have much of one, though, as they have made the Gamecocks a three touchdown favorite.
But with all that said, South Carolina has issues. They have not been at all impressive offensively despite having a legitimate Heisman candidate in Marcus Lattimore. They also have one of the best receivers in the nation in Alshon Jeffery, but the Ol' Ball Coach can't seem to locate a quarterback who can get him the ball. Stephen Garcia has been almost as proficient at completing passes to the other team as to his own receivers, and after last week's debacle versus the Auburn Tigers, Spurrier finally blew his top and benched the senior in favor of sophomore Connor Shaw, who has thrown all of 11 passes so far this year.
As usual, South Carolina has one of the best defenses in the SEC. South Carolina's defense is led by tackling machine Antonio Allen and a player widely considered to be the best incoming defensive lineman in America, Jadeveon Clowney, to go along with senior Melvin Ingram, who has made it hard on Kentucky these last several years. If Morgan Newton thinks he's had pressure before, Clowney promises to present him with more opportunities to watch the game from his backside.
Despite noises of perhaps taking off the redshirt of Bookie Cobbins to get more offensive punch, that seems unlikely in this game based on the comments of Joker Phillips during the week. I think it is pretty late in the season to think about burning redshirts, and apparently, Cobbins didn't produce enough offensive excitement in practice for Phillips to make that move.
The good news is that Raymond Sanders, who has been injured much of the season, is expected to return today to and offense that desperately needs him. We really haven't seen Sanders much at all this year, and at the very least, he will help keep the running threat higher than without him.
Here's a bit more reading about today's game:
- Tom Leach's Saturday links
- 10 keys to winning at South Carolina
- John Clay's Big Blue Links
- Garnet and Black Attack game preview
Well, that's about it. Now we need your comments and observations. Enjoy today's tailgate.