Kentucky Wildcats (4-0, 2-0 in SEC) vs. South Carolina Gamecocks (2-1, 1-1 in SEC)
Location: Kroger Field
Start Time: 7:30 PM EST
TV: SEC Network
Radio: The radio crew of Tom Leach, Jeff Piecoro and Dick Gabriel will call the action on the UK Sports Network.
Replay: SEC Network (check local listings) and ESPN+
Odds: South Carolina opened as a 2-point favorite and are 2.5-point favorite as of Saturday morning, according to Vegas Insider.
Series: South Carolina leads the all-time series 17-11-1, including a 9-6 mark in games played in Lexington. The Wildcats has won the past four meetings beginning with a 45-38 win in 2014. Four of the past five meetings have been decided by a touchdown or less with the other being last year’s 10-point Wildcat victory.
While we wait for tonight’s game, here’s a pregame hype video to get fired up with:
The Wildcats look to continue their magical season when they host the Gamecocks in Week 5. It will be a sold-out Kroger Field crowd that hopefully makes for one of the most electrifying atmospheres in the Mark Stoops era.
Will Muschamp, now in his third season at the helm of the Gamecocks, is still searching to find consistency and the correct approach to take his program to the next level in the SEC. Losing to Kentucky for a fifth-straight year would drop Muschamp to under .500 (9-10) in conference play during his tenure in Columbia.
The Gamecocks are 2-1 on the season with the lone loss coming to the third-ranked Georgia Bulldogs. South Carolina has only played three games so far due to Hurricane Florence prompting the cancellation of their game against Marshall in Week 3.
So far in three games this season, South Carolina has given up 489 yards on the ground, just under 165 yards per game. Granted, 271 of those yards were against Georgia’s powerful offense. In their other two games, the Gamecocks did not allow the opposing team to rush for more than 100 yards.
Meanwhile, Benny Snell has now tallied 540 total rushing yards and seven touchdowns on the season. He ranks seventh among active FBS players in career rushing yards with 2,964. He currently ranks fourth all-time at UK and needs just 32 more to move up to No. 3 with Rafael Little (2,996/2004-07).
To become UK’s all-time leading rusher, Snell needs 872 yards to break Sonny Collins’ record (3,835/1972-75).
UK’s gameplan to run the ball early and often will continue to be known by opponents, but I am not sure there is anything they can do to combat it.
“When everyone in the stadium knows you’re going to run and you still get yards, that’s a good thing.” Mark Stoops said recently.
Expect a heavy heavy load of Snell against South Carolina.
Switching sides of the ball, Kentucky’s defense has been nothing short of spectacular this season. They once again showed how tough they are in Saturday night’s beatdown of the Mississippi St. Bulldogs. Josh Allen looked completely unstoppable rushing on the edge and proved why he is so high up on NFL draft boards.
Allen and others were putting pressure on Fitzgerald all night and impressively held Mississippi State to only seven points. Matt House’s defense is now only surrendering about 13 points a game, which is incredible. The Wildcats are gang tackling and smothering the ball. Kash Daniel is proving to be a leader and the anchor in the middle.
Through four games, the defense ranks seventh nationally in scoring defense (13.3), seventh in pass efficiency and 11th in total defense (279.5). UK has their fewest points allowed through their first two SEC games of a season (23) since 1977 (20).
South Carolina does have weapons on the offensive side of the ball, including quarterback Jake Bentley, who is averaging 260 yards in the air and has thrown six touchdowns over three games.
The Gamecock rushing attack is a two-back approach that features both Rico Dowdle and Ty’son Williams. Each rushed for a touchdown in last week’s 37-14 demolition of the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Speaking of, the Gamecocks ran up 534 yards of total offense and were extremely balanced (273 rush, 261 pass) in the win. The defense held the Commodores to under 100 yards rushing and 300 total yards.
The Carolina defense has 21 tackles for loss in just three games and has forced four turnovers. While they don’t have great size and strength up front, they make up for it with speed and athleticism that will present a unique challenge for Kentucky.
Expect this to be another down-to-the-wire war that could easily go either way in the end.