No. 12 South Carolina will try to get a winning record in the SEC East for the first time this season when it hosts Kentucky at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on FSN. Here’s what to watch when the Gamecocks welcome the Wildcats into Williams-Brice Stadium:
Steve Spurrier called it a “miraculous recovery.” After a sprain to his throwing shoulder knocked Connor Shaw out of the game on the first series of USC’s trip to Central Florida, the “Head Ball Coach” wondered if he’d lost his starting quarterback for the season. After the game, trainers told him Shaw would be out two to three weeks. Instead, Shaw won’t skip a beat. The senior is starting against Kentucky, defying the medical odds. It’ll be interesting to see how much of the offense Shaw can run with his shoulder, especially after the adrenaline wears off following the first quarter. A healthy Shaw is critical to USC’s plans down the road this season.
Gamecocks sophomore running back Mike Davis is having a monster season, highlighted by his 167 yards and three touchdowns at UCF. Leading the SEC in rushing, now comes a new challenge for Davis. The youngster who is hungry to make a name for himself must show he can handle success. Against Kentucky’s run defense, Davis shouldn’t struggle with a magnificent encore.
It wasn’t fun to be in USC’s film room as the defense reviewed its performance at UCF. Once again, the Gamecocks’ defense struggled closing out a game. Given a large lead for the second straight game, USC ended Saturday on its heels instead of holding its momentum. If USC jumps out to a big lead against Kentucky — a likely scenario — everyone will want to know if the defense can play with the same intensity and close out the blowout.
Two of the SEC’s worst teams when it comes to turnover margin will be on the same field. Kentucky is dead last in the league, losing half of a turnover on average each game. The Gamecocks are tied for 10th, losing a quarter of a turnover on average each game. USC’s defense forced four turnovers at UCF — more than it had all season entering the game — but the offense had the same number. The Gamecocks are still searching for their first complete game in the turnover category.
South Carolina 41, Kentucky 17