The Gamecocks and Volunteers both enter this matchup with sub-.500 records. The Gamecocks are closer to attaining .500 status both overall and in conference play, while the Vols have a tricker and more imposing climb ahead of them. South Carolina could attain such a record if they are to knock the Volunteers down. But Tennessee, to be sure, would like to clip them to ensure that doesn’t happen at their expense.
These two teams don’t share records as they go into this matchup but they do share a different common thread: Both were dispatched by the leaders in the two divisions at the moment. The Florida Gators knocked South Carolina on their heels to the tune of a 38-27 beating in Columbia. Meanwhile, the Alabama Crimson Tide soundly beat Tennessee 35-13 down in Tuscaloosa.
It’s hard to really knock Tennessee for their performance against Alabama. The doors weren’t really blown off them, as they did cover the spread against the Tide. The YPP (yards/play) was lofty, a mark of 6.4, the second-highest mark they’ve allowed all year to the 7.5 they gave up against the Georgia Bulldogs. But... again, it’s ‘Bama, so it was pretty run of the mill.
South Carolina’s performance against Florida was a little more worrisome. Especially on defense. They gave up 5.7 YPP, the highest mark they’d given up since playing aforementioned ‘Bama. The 355 total yards weren’t as much as they allowed against Georgia the previous week, but it took 95 play for UGA to get there, and just 62 were needed by UF to climb to that mark.
The biggest concern was how the defense played against the run. It wasn’t so much the yards they gave up, as the 155 yards allowed to the Gators weren’t the most, the second-most or even the third-most they’ve permitted this season. But it was how UF got there. It took just 29 rushes to reach that mark, good for a YPC of 5.3, the highest mark all season long.
Tennessee doesn’t have a great ground game. They’ve climbed over 4.0 yards per carry just three times all season. They’re coming off a day where they averaged 3.2 yards per carry against the ‘Bama defense, and SC has been otherwise stout against the ground this year. Even though they’ve been showing cracks of late, with the mark of 5.3, and 4.0 and 4.1 in each of the last three weeks. Will Tennessee be able to strike against them? If they do, that could prove to be a noticeable sieve in SC’s defense.
HOW TO WATCH
Time: 4 p.m. ET
TV: SEC Network
Watch Online: WatchESPN