The Kentucky Wildcats will look to score their first SEC win when the South Carolina Gamecocks come to town Saturday.
Last week, the Cats showed a shine of hope in what otherwise has been a dark first three weeks. The offense was able to move the ball, and while the defense struggled, even with Stoops taking over, the secondary still played well with two more turnovers.
This week's game won't exactly be the New Mexico State that the Cats played this past Saturday. While the Gamecocks have struggled the past few seasons, new coach Will Muschamp is trying to get the Gamecocks to go in the right direction. They've started the season off this year 2-1 so far with wins against Vandy and Eastern Carolina while losing to Mississippi St.
The Gamecocks ended the season last year 3-9 with Kentucky being one of their many losses. Last year, it was a close one for the Cats against South Carolina last year in Columbia but, they were able to pull out the win. This year in Commonwealth, one would hope that would help the Cats pull out the W, but who knows with the inconsistency and the impending back injury to Drew Barker, as well as if the neck spasms affecting Stanley "Boom" Williams will continue to linger.
We've already seen last week Boom can play through it, but we'll see what the week brings. With Barker's injury, we can only expect to see more from the dual-threat quarterback Stephon Johnson. A new face we also are wondering if we'll see more of is Freshman Benny Snell. Could his success continue against a tougher opponent will be the big question if he does get to play, however, with the injury to Jojo Kemp as well I do expect we'll see him.
A big question for the Cats this weekend will be how will the defense perform against South Carolina's dual-threat quarterback Brandon Mcilwain. Quarterbacks who can run, pass, and extend plays have traditionally been able to succeed in college football. Just look at what Lamar Jackson is doing at Louisville right now.
With the Cats up front guys being one of the weaker points of the defense, one wonders if the front guys will be able to not only put pressure on Mcilwain but also contain him. With it being his first start we'll see how the Gamecocks' offense fairs against the Cats' defense.
The Gamecocks' defense should prove a tougher test than New Mexico State's did this past weekend. South Carolina's defense forced four turnovers against East Carolina, which essentially won them the game. So needless to say, turnovers will be a key part of this week’s game.
This will be a very different game than this past Saturday for the young Stephon Johnson, no matter how bad South Carolina might seem to be, this is still and SEC game which brings much more tension and pressure. We will see how poised the young Johnson will be in this high-pressure game.
Overall, this should be a good match for the Cats. Two young, developing teams facing off early in the year can only tell us more about our up and coming Wildcats.
Here is everything you will need to watch and follow this matchup.
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday
Where: Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Ky.
TV: SEC Network
Channel: DirecTV 611, Dish 408; FiOs 75/575; Time Warner Cable 76/796 in Lexington
Announcers: Brent Musburger (play-by-play), Jesse Palmer (analyst) and Kaylee Hartung (sideline).
Local Radio: Tom Leach (play-by-play), Jeff Piecoro (analyst) and Dick Gabriel (sideline) will have the call on 840 AM in Louisville and both 630 AM and 98.1 FM in Lexington.
Online Radio: Satellite radio (XM 190 and Sirius 106) or online at UKathleticsgameday.com/football.
Live Online Stream: WatchESPN
Replay: WatchESPN; Sept. 26 at 5 am EST on SEC Network
Odds: Kentucky by 2.5
Prediction: Kentucky 27, South Carolina 24