South Carolina will continue to make its case as a national title contender as it takes on Kentucky in another difficult SEC matchup for the Wildcats.
The Gamecock’s Connor Shaw heroically completed 20-of-21 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns against Missouri last week, despite having a hairline fracture on his throwing shoulder. South Carolina defeated Missouri 31-10 and improved to No. 6 in this week’s AP Top 25 poll.
Kentucky’s struggles continued as it failed to compete against Florida, losing 38-0. The Wildcats will try to fare significantly better this week.
Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming game.
Where: Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, Ky.
When: Saturday, September 29, 7 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Betting Line: Kentucky -21 (according to Covers.com)
South Carolina Injury Report (via USA Today)
Brandon Wilds—sophomore running back is day-to-day with an ankle injury.
Akeem Auguste—senior cornerback is out indefinitely with a groin injury.
Shon Carson—freshman running back is out indefinitely with a wrist injury.
Kentucky Injury Report (via USA Today)
CoShik Williams—senior running back is questionable with a hip injury.
Cartier Rice—senior cornerback is questionable with a quadriceps injury.
Trevino Woods—senior offensive tackle is questionable with an ankle injury.
Gabe Correll—senior tight end is questionable with a hip injury.
Josh Clemons—sophomore running back is questionable with a knee injury.
Glenn Faulkner—sophomore safety is out until the middle of October after undergoing ankle surgery.
Anthony Kendrick—junior tight end will miss entire season due to academic inelligibility.
Maxwell Smith—sophomore quarterback is day-to-day with a shoulder injury (via Courier-Journal)
BCS/Top 25 Poll Implications
The Gamecocks will not be able to significantly improve their No. 6 ranking until they play a more difficult opponent. The Wildcats are unlikely to be ranked at any point this season.
Barring a major upset, this game will have no effect on the rankings.
John Clay of the Lexington Herald-Leader does not feel confident about the Wildcats’ chances against South Carolina this weekend:
Ugh. Steve Spurrier has the Gamecocks hitting on all cylinders and that isn't likely to end Saturday. The Old Ball Coach tasted defeat his last trip to the Bluegrass and Spurrier owns a long memory.
ESPN’s Edward Aschoff sees plenty of positive signs from the Gamecock’s recent victory over Missouri:
Connor Shaw has proven he's a true player for the Gamecocks... You're starting to see more balance from this Gamecocks offense and that will be very important as SEC play continues. The defensive front is also getting stronger each week.
South Carolina Player to Watch: Connor Shaw, Quarterback
While running back Marcus Lattimore is one of the best in the country, Shaw’s performance last week was both great and gutsy. He played through pain to turn in an incredible performance.
If he is as efficient as he was against Missouri, the Gamecocks will be nearly impossible to beat.
Kentucky Player to Watch: La’Rod King, Wide Receiver
The 6’4”, 222-pound wideout certainly has the physical tools to stand out in the SEC. Regardless of who is playing quarterback for Kentucky on Saturday, King must make plays for his team to have a chance.
He has 26 catches for 227 yards and two touchdowns this season, and he must use his size and strength to get into the end zone against the Gamecocks.
Key Matchup: Kentucky Quarterback vs. South Carolina Defense
Starter Maxwell Smith has a bruised shoulder and is day-to-day for the game against South Carolina. After a dismal day from Morgan Newton against Florida, freshman Jalen Whitlow may take snaps on Saturday.
Whoever is under center for the Wildcats, they will have to play a phenomenal game to keep their team in contention. If Kentucky receives a subpar performance at quarterback, this will be a blowout.
Key Storyline: South Carolina’s National Championship Hopes
After starting 4-0, South Carolina has its eyes on the national championship. In order for the Gamecocks to accomplish their goal, they must make a statement against teams like Kentucky.
Who is the second-best team in the SEC behind Alabama?
The Gamecocks will be looking to put on a dominant performance to prove that they are one of the best teams in the nation and to gain momentum heading into back-to-back games against No. 5 Georgia and No. 3 LSU.
Prediction: South Carolina 44, Kentucky 7
South Carolina is playing extremely well and this game will be out of reach early for the Wildcats.