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What to Watch for: Kentucky vs. South Carolina

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Things to look for when the Wildcats face the Gamecocks Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium

Veteran running back JoJo Kemp (left) is hugged by head coach Mark Stoops after Kentucky’s comeback win over South Carolina at Commonwealth Stadium in 2014
The Courier-Journal

Saturday will mark the first appearance by South Carolina at Commonwealth Stadium since Kentucky scored three consecutive touchdowns to complete the 45-38 comeback win in 2014.

Last season, the Wildcats edged South Carolina in Columbia, 26-22, and will look to make it a three-year streak this Saturday.

Kentucky (1-2) is currently fifth in the SEC East, two spots behind second place South Carolina (2-1).

"We’re looking forward to having the opportunity to get to .500 this week at home vs. South Carolina," said Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops. In his third year at Kentucky, Stoops will look to have as many victories against the Gamecocks after Saturday night’s game.

Here is what to watch for when Kentucky hosts South Carolina.

The Wildcats have one win on this season’s resume. However, in that one win, they managed to out-gain their opponent via both the pass and the rush. South Carolina is allowing 223 passing yards and 192 rushing yards per game.

Kentucky, on offense, is averaging 226 passing yards and 191 rushing yards per game. The advantage here: the Wildcats.

In Kentucky’s lone victory this season, they threw less interceptions than the opposing quarterback. Kentucky’s secondary also ranks first in the South Eastern Conference in interceptions with six.

South Carolina’s only loss came when they threw an interception. Their secondary has also only recorded 3 interceptions.

Advantage: Kentucky

South Carolina ranks second to last in punt return yards and ninth in kickoff return yards in the SEC. Kentucky ranks sixth in punt return yards and first in kickoff return yards, having already returned a punt for a touchdown.

Look for Kentucky to start their drives with great field position, while the Wildcat defense will have the Gamecocks back in their territory. I like Kentucky’s advantage here as well.

Though Kentucky allowed 500 total yards in their victory against New Mexico State, the Gamecocks are averaging just 310 total yards in their two victories this season.

If the Kentucky secondary can slow down South Carolina quarterback Brandon McilWain, I like the Cats front seven to hold up against South Carolina’s last-place rush attack.

Advantage: Kentucky

Six of the last ten meetings between these two teams have been won by the home team. South Carolina, on the road, is averaging just 13.5 points. Kentucky, at home, is averaging 48.5. South Carolina has also yet to record a win against Mark Stoops.

Advantage: Kentucky