South Carolina Gamecocks (2-7) at Kentucky Wildcats (3-6)
- Game Time: 7:30 pm EST
- Location: Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky.
- TV Channel: Today’s game can be seen on the SEC Network.
- Announcers: Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers and Cole Cubelic will be on the call.
- Online Stream: WatchESPN and fuboTV
- Replay: WatchESPN and SEC Network (check local listings).
- Radio: Tom Leach and Jeff Piecoro will call the action on the UK radio network call on 630 AM, 98.1 FM in Lexington, and on the UK Sports Network.
- Odds: Kentucky opened as a 10.5-point favorite, and the line is now 11.5. ESPN FPI gives the Wildcats a 68.0% chance of winning.
- Rosters: UK | USC
- Weather: Clear skies and mid-to-high 30s with a 2% chance of rain, according to Covers.
- Prediction: TeamRankings projects a 28-18 win for the Cats, while numberFire went with a 26-16 victory for Kentucky.
Enjoy your #CollegeFootball Caturday, #BBN— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) December 5, 2020
Can't wait to honor our 2020 seniors this evening in Kroger Field pic.twitter.com/NRVchErjrz
In the final game of a wild and unpredictable 2020 college football season, the Kentucky Wildcats will host the South Carolina Gamecocks on Senior Day to wrap up the regular season.
Kentucky enters the game at 3-6, while the Gamecocks have only two wins on the year. Both teams are looking to finish this conference only schedule with a W.
South Carolina is going into its third game after firing coach Will Muschamp. Once considered to have the Gamecocks on the precipice of contention for the SEC East, the South Carolina program has continued to underperform in recent years. This season, after starting the year 2-5, the administration had had enough and decided to find a new coach.
South Carolina was being led by senior quarterback Collin Hill, who has had an up and down season. He has completed just 59% of his passes and has thrown as many interceptions as he has touchdown passes.
However, Hill was benched during the Gamecocks’ 17-10 loss to Missouri on Nov. 21. Since then, true freshman Luke Doty has taken over and completed 32/45 passes for 320 yards and one score vs. two picks against the Tigers and in the 45-16 loss to Georgia this past week.
Doty can also run, as he accounted for 59 yards on 15 runs vs. Missouri. However, he had -15 yards on 15 runs vs. Georgia, part of which was due to three sacks he took. Kentucky should be prepared to see Doty or Hill this week.
Wide receiver Shi Smith and tight end Nick Muse carry the load with the receiving corps, combining for over 1,000 receiving yards and five touchdowns on the year. Smith is a true gamebreaker that could shred Kentucky’s secondary if they don’t come prepared, especially now that star cornerback Kelvin Joseph has opted out to focus on the 2021 NFL Draft.
It’s worth noting that Smith missed the Georgia game due to injury but is expected to play this week.
The Gamecocks rely heavily on the run game as well, and they have a running back that is looking to reach the 1,000 yard mark for the season. Kevin Harris has 928 yards on 164 carries this season, good for 5.7 yards per rush. He has also found the end zone 14 times on the year, which is good for second in the SEC. The Wildcats are going to have to load up against the run game and force whoever is at QB to beat them if they want to win this game.
Kentucky’s game plan is much more of a mystery. Last season, wide receiver Lynn Bowden took the majority of the snaps from the quarterback position. The Wildcats chose to run the ball down the throat of opponents, even though they knew there was no passing threat. This season, however, the passing attack has only been marginally better than a year ago.
You can blame the play calling, the quarterback play, or the lack of play making wide receivers. The truth is that there is enough blame to go around. But with the frustration coming from the players after last week’s loss, the pressure is really on Eddie Gran this week to make something happen with the offensive scheme.
It will be interesting to see if the Wildcats choose to ride with the starters they have had all year, or if they choose to get the young players some reps before the season ends. Of course you want to end the season with a win. But given the lack of productivity from some of the seniors, it is hard to believe that there would be a large drop-off in going to the second team with some positions.
Much like life, we all tend to carry the feelings of the most recent event. If Kentucky performs well on Saturday and wins, no matter who is making the plays, many fans will finish the season feeling positive about where the program is. But if this team continues the downward spiral we have seen since beating Tennessee, Big Blue Nation will be calling for big changes this offseason.
With a win Saturday, Kentucky would likely receive a bowl invite. The most recent projection from Yahoo Sports has the Cats in the Music City Bowl vs. the 10 Indiana Hoosiers. For all of the issues and challenges Kentucky has had to overcome this year, getting to a bowl like that against a top-25 opponent would be a great opportunity to end the season on a strong note.
But for that to happen, Kentucky must first take care of business in their final home game of 2020.