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Kentucky Wildcats Football vs South Carolina Gamecocks Primer, Stats and Facts

What you need to know about the Cats and Gamecocks as they look to climb the SEC East.

Jason Marcum

Kentucky begins SEC play this year with a road matchup against South Carolina. The Cats have won three straight meetings between these two teams, as this matchup has always provided for great football in the Mark Stoops era.

While the wins haven’t been pretty, Kentucky is of to a good start this year with a 2-0 record. South Carolina is their first real test, though, and a win in the SEC opener would go a long way in determining the success of this season.

Kentucky Wildcats

  • Mark Stoops is 3-1 against South Carolina in his time as head coach at Kentucky.
  • In last year’s matchup with the Gamecocks, the Cats trailed 7-3 at halftime and were tied at 10 entering the fourth quarter before Benny Snell Jr.’s touchdown run gave them a late lead and Denzil Ware’s sack closed the door on Carolina.
  • Despite that, South Carolina leads the all-time series, 17-10-1.
  • Kentucky is second in the nation in fumbles, having forced five and recovered four in the first two games.
  • The Cats rank 11th in the nation in rushing defense, as they’ve allowed just 58.5 yards per game.
  • Through two games, they’ve allowed their fewest rushing yards total since 1987
  • Denzil Ware and Josh Allen have combined for 4 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a defensive touchdown.
  • Garrett “Juice” Johnson has caught a pass in 13 straight games. He ranks eighth on the school’s all-time receiving yards list.
  • Johnson needs just 47 more yards to tie Randall Cobb for seventh on that list.
  • This will be a homecoming for Blake Bone, Tavin Richardson and Naquez Pringle, as they are all South Carolina natives.
  • At least 23 players have seen action on the defensive side of the ball in each of the first two games.
  • C.J. Conrad already has 125 receiving yards and two touchdowns this season
  • Austin MacGinnis is 33 points away from catching Lones Seiber as Kentucky’s all-time leading scorer.
  • A win would give Stephen Johnson his 10th victory as starting quarterback.
  • Kentucky has three players from the state of South Carolina on its roster: WR Blake Bone (Woodruff), WR Tavin Richardson (Greer) and DT Naquez Pringle (Georgetown). •

South Carolina Gamecocks

  • The Gamecocks lead the all-time series, 17-10-1.
  • The series in Columbia favors USC as well, 8-4-1.
  • Head coach Will Muschamp is 4-1 against Kentucky.
  • The Gamecocks are 2-0 with a win over SEC opponent Missouri (31-13).
  • South Carolina was the only Division I school to have true freshmen lead the team in both passing and rushing last year thanks to quarterback Jake Bentley and running back Rico Dowdle
  • Bentley did not play in the first six games of the year, but started the last seven.
  • D.J. Smith is returning for South Carolina; he started every game and led the team in tackles last year.
  • Kick returner Deebo Samuel already has two kickoffs returned for touchdowns this year.
  • Samuel took a kickoff return 97 yards for a touchdown against NC State, becoming the first player in school history to open the season with a kickoff return for a score and earned SEC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his efforts.
  • Against Missouri, Samuel’s 97-yard return changed the momentum of the game after the Tigers had taken a 10-0 lead.
  • South Carolina’s tight ends coach Pat Washington, and co-offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, both had positions on UK football’s coaching staff in the past.
  • South Carolina co-offensive coordinator Kurt Roper was the quarterbacks coach at Kentucky for the 2005 season with head coach Rich Brooks.
  • South Carolina tight ends coach Pat Washington spent the 2012 season at Kentucky as the wide receivers and passing game coordinator with head coach Joker Phillips.