INSIDE THE GAME: No. 13 South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt
No. 13 South Carolina will host Vanderbilt at 7 p.m. Saturday on ESPN in its first home SEC game. Here’s a closer look at South Carolina’s game against Vanderbilt:
This week is all about getting over and past last week. Losing at Georgia was a disappointing letdown, but it also was only the second game of the fall. There’s a long season ahead. South Carolina can’t afford to dwell on its past. The mark of a good team is in how well it recovers from adversity. For the Gamecocks, that test comes Saturday.
In three of the past four seasons, South Carolina has had a running back rush for more than 100 yards against Vanderbilt. Sophomore Mike Davis has exceeded 100 rushing yards in both games this season. (He’s fourth in the SEC with 264 yards.) The numbers indicate Davis is ready for another huge game Saturday.
Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews may be the best receiver South Carolina defends this season. The Preseason All-SEC first-team selection is off to a phenomenal senior season with 16 catches, 289 yards and two touchdowns. After being gashed in the passing game last week, this is a monumental challenge for USC’s secondary — which Steve Spurrier called “confused” against Georgia. The Gamecocks probably can’t afford to only play one coverage against Matthews. They’ll likely show a mix of several zones, combo and single-man coverage.
South Carolina has not lost to Vanderbilt in the past three years. Given these are the Commodores we’re talking about, you might think the win streak would be longer. Instead, Vandy has played USC especially tough recently. In the past six seasons, the Gamecocks are 4-2 against the Commodores. They have won by more than two possessions twice — in 2011 and 2010. There has been a lot of reference made to last season’s opener — a closer-than-expected 17-13 win in Nashville — but it goes deeper than that. Most years, Vanderbilt is at least competitive against South Carolina. No reason why Saturday would be different.
South Carolina 27, Vanderbilt 21