The South Carolina Gamecocks' chances of playing for a BCS title are done. They were blasted by the No. 2 Florida Gators 44-11 on Saturday. It was their second consecutive loss, and now they must try to get their feet beneath them again.
This Saturday they take on Tennessee who was thrashed by No. 1 Alabama, by almost the identical score. They lost 44-13, but the worst part of their defeat is that it came at home. The Vols dropped to 3-4 overall, and a dreadful 0-4 in SEC play.
The bruised and wounded will now battle each other in Columbia, S.C.
Here is a closer look:
When: Saturday, Oct. 27, 12:00 p.m. ET
Where: Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C.
Live Stream: SEC Network
Radio: WNML FM 99.1/99.3 in Knoxville, WNKT-FM 107.5 in Columbia
Odds: Per Oddsshark.com Gamecocks are favorites (-14)
Injury Report: Per Oddshark.com
George Bullock - K - Out For Season (leg)
LaTroy Lewis - LB - Out For Season (knee)
Brian Randolph - DB - Out For Season (knee)
Da'Rick Rogers - WR - Out For Season (disciplinary)
Rajon Neal - RB - Questionable - October 27 (ankle)
South Carolina Gamecocks
Shon Carson - RB - Out Indefinitely (wrist)
Kelcy Quarles - DT - Questionable - October 27 (disciplinary)
What's at Stake?
The Gamecocks still have a shot at playing in a decent bowl game, but a third loss in a row would really send this team reeling. They could find themselves ranked in the 20s if they are upset by the Vols. Moreover, Steve Spurrier's bunch would have to ask themselves some serious questions.
The Vols don't want to fall to 0-4 in the conference for obvious reasons. This young team needs a signature win to build on for the rest of this season, and moving into next year.
This will likely be their final shot at a ranked opponent.
What They're Saying
The Old Ball Coach is glad to be back home. After two straight losses, he talks about the team's goals moving forward in his press conference from Oct. 23 on South Carolina's official website:
It feels good to get back home. We're home for three straight. One of our goals is to win all the home games. We're still in the position to achieve that if we can regroup a bit, start playing smart and start playing up to our potential.
It should also feel good to play a team that doesn't have a blistering defense like LSU and Florida, the Gamecocks last two opponents. They still have to play the game, but this should be a much easier test for the team.
On the Vols' side, head coach Derek Dooley talked about "staying the course" in the most recent Vols report on the football program's official website. He said:
"I think that their practice habits and routine have been very consistent. From fall camp to NC State week to Florida week it has been pretty consistent. This team has been like this all year.
That doesn't mean we aren't all hurting a little bit, but we have to dust it off and get a little confidence going."
The Vols are a little better than their record would indicate. If Tyler Bray returns for his senior season at quarterback, next year will be the year the team can make strides.
This is such a tough conference. Growing pains hurt even more as the competition is unrelenting.
The Vols certainly aren't getting a break this week.
Gamecocks Player to Watch - Jadeveon Clowney
Clowney has continued to show himself as an impact player off the edge. He's a premier pass-rusher on the college level, and he should be especially disruptive in this game.
Coming off two losses, and playing in the comfort of home, the Gamecocks should be amped for this game. The crowd should be especially raucous in passing situations. That's precisely when Clowney does his best work.
He has 7.5 sacks this season, and I think there's a good chance he'll add a couple on Saturday.
Volunteers Player to Watch - Tyler Bray
Bray has thrown 16 touchdown passes this season, but he didn't have a good game against Alabama on Saturday. He was 13-of-27 for 184 yards with two interceptions.
It was the only game this season he completed less than 50 percent of his passes, and the first game he didn't throw a touchdown pass.
If the Vols are to have a chance to pull the upset, Bray must get back on track.
Key Matchup - Clowney vs. Antonio Richardson
Richardson replaced Dallas Thomas on the edge, and this assignment is no picnic. Clowney has exceptional quickness and speed. How Richardson manages to contain him will play a huge factor in Bray's effectiveness.
He'll likely get some help on Clowney, but the initial battle between these two is a key matchup.
The Gamecocks should have little issue rebounding from their losses with a win here. Tennessee is not only winless in the SEC, they are also winless on the road. This will turn into the Vols second straight blowout loss.
The Gamecocks will win 45-20.
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