- Location: Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina.
- Game Time: 7:00 pm ET on September 25th.
- TV Channel: ESPN2 will have tonight’s TV coverage.
- Announcers: Brian Custer, Kelly Stouffer and Lauren Sisler will call the action.
- Live Online Stream: Use WatchESPN or the ESPN app to catch the game online and on mobile devices.
- Replay: WatchESPN and the SEC Network (check local listings).
- Radio: Catch the game on your radio device via the UK Sports Network with Tom Leach, Jeff Piecoro and Dick Gabriel calling the action.
- Satellite Radio: Channel 136 on Sirius and channel 191 on XM.
- Rosters: UK | USC
- Weather: 74 °F, humidity at 52%, winds at 3.6 mph, and a 0% chance of rain, according to Covers.com.
- Odds: UK -5 with the over/under set at 48.5. However, the ESPN matchup predictor gives South Carolina a 56% chance of victory.
- Score Projection: TeamRankings is going with a 28-22 victory for Kentucky.
The Wildcats are 3-0 on the season for just the third time under Mark Stoops (2017 and 2018). They’re looking to start 2-0 in conference play for just the second time since 1977 (2018) with a win over the Gamecocks.
For South Carolina (2-1), they started off conference play with No. 2 Georgia in Athens last week and lost 40-13. Shane Beamer has had a solid start to his first season in Columbia, however, as they’ve still beaten the opponents they should have, but this game will be the first real test of his tenure.
In the Mark Stoops era, the Cats are 6-2 against the Gamecocks, with both losses coming in Williams-Brice Stadium. Currently, the Cats trail in the all-time record for the series, as it’s currently 13-18-1.
In last year's meeting, Kentucky cruised to an easy 41-18 victory to end the season. When the Gamecocks came to Lexington in 2020, the team was going through a mid-season coaching search and had numerous players opt-out for the remainder of the season. So fans should expect this Saturday’s matchup to be a lot tougher than what happened last season.
The Kentucky offense through three games has looked good overall under new offensive coordinator Liam Coen, despite looking rough in the Chattanooga game. They racked up 500+ total yards in each of the first two games of the season for the first time in school history and rank 27th nationally in total offense.
Chris Rodriguez has picked up right where he left off in 2020 and should get 20-25 touches a game for the remainder of the season as he continues moving up the UK record books for rushing.
Wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson has been even better than advertised with three-straight games of 100 yards from scrimmage, as he’s clearly established himself as the go-to weapon in this passing game.
Then you get to the most important spot on offense in QB Will Levis. After three games, Levis should be getting more comfortable running the show and the calls coming in from Coen.
To win this game on Saturday, the Wildcats need Levis to avoid pressure a little better than he has, make better decisions, and use his speed to keep the offense ahead of the chains.
The defense has been a bit more volatile than most expected it to be. Stoops and defensive coordinator Brad White both like to play the soft zone scheme, and that’s what they’ve stuck to so far this season.
Teams have started to use the dink-and-dunk method to keep their drives alive, and while it’s worked more than you’d like to see, they’ve rarely been able to hit the big play.
This South Carolina passing game features one big-play threat in wide receiver Josh Vann, who has 10 grabs for 282 yards and two scores this season. No other Gamecock has more than 72 receiving yards. If the UK secondary lets him get loose, it could provide the Gamecocks the spark they need to pull the upset.
Making his first start of the season at QB for the Gamecocks this well will be Luke Doty, who Shane Beamer announced would get the nod vs. Kentucky. Zeb Noland started the first three games while Doty recovered from a foot injury. Noland injured his hand in last week’s loss to Georgia, but Beamer is still confident that Noland will be available this week.
Last year against Kentucky, Doty threw for 85 yards while completing 11/25 passes for a touchdown and interception at Kroger Field. He was a true freshman then , so don’t expect him to look like a deer in the headlights this time around against Kentucky’s defense.
Coming into the season, running back Kevin Harris was expected to be the Gamecock’s featured weapon on offense, which was the case in 2020 when he ran for 1,138 yards and 15 touchdowns.
However, offseason back surgery led to Harris being limited in fall camp, missing Week 1 vs. Eastern Illinois, and accounting for just 64 yards on 23 attempts thus far. He actually ran for 210 yards and a score on 21 carries vs. Kentucky last season. If he can produce like that this time around, the Gamecocks are probably coming away with a big win over the Cats.
If Harris is still rusty, however, look for senior ZaQuandre White to get a big workload, as he has 167 yards and one score on 22 carries this season. Freshman Juju McDowell has 113 yards on 23 carries.
Ultimately, this defense needs to get the QB on the ground. They’ve done well in getting pressure, but just haven't been able to hit home. With Jordan Wright returning this weekend it will add some extra speed off the edge, but also allow the team's best pass-rusher in JJ Weaver to come in fresh for the downs he is needed.