There were two games last season that South Carolina might have liked to have back. The first was a loss at Auburn that ended the Gamecocks' undefeated season after Connor Shaw came into the game and threw two back-breaking picks late in the game. The second was a loss at Kentucky that marked an enormous letdown after the thrilling win against No. 1 Alabama.
So it's maybe ironic that South Carolina is turning from the goat of the Kentucky game last season -- Stephen Garcia -- to the goat of the Auburn game for its revenge against the Wildcats. And it's ironic that Garcia played his way out of the starter role against Auburn, after Shaw's performance against the Tigers made Garcia the unquestioned quarterback for the team in 2010.
There aren't a lot of easier maiden voyages that Shaw could have drawn than a home game against what is a truly bad Kentucky team. The Wildcats are not ranked higher than 10th in the SEC in any major offensive category and are ranked in the top half of the league in two major offensive or defensive categories -- pass defense and pass efficiency defense. (IKentucky is first in the SEC at punting, presumably because the Cats get to practice it quite a bit.)
Not that the Garcia-led Carolina offense has been setting the field ablaze. The only thing that has really worked is Marcus Lattimore running the ball, and that's far more a statement about Lattimore's ability than South Carolina's offensive competence. And the defense has not been as much of a terror as you might think, though the powerful defensive line had made up for plenty of shortcomings on the back end.
But Kentucky is so bad -- so comically bad for Kentucky haters and heartbreakingly bad for Wildcats fans -- that's it hard to see them doing much of anything in this one. South Carolina wins and gets its revenge, but that doesn't mean the Gamecocks are out of the woods yet.
South Carolina 24, Kentucky 11