The 2012 season hasn't gone as planned for either the No.13 team in the country, the South Carolina Gamecocks (6-2, 4-2 SEC), or the Tennessee Volunteers (3-4, 0-4 SEC).
South Carolina watched its hopes of both a SEC Championship and a National Championship vanish last week after losing its second conference game in a row, a 44-11 thumping courtesy of the No. 2 Florida Gators in Gainesville.
Tennessee was equally embarrassed at the hands of No. 1 Alabama, a 44-13 drubbing that not only marked the Volunteers' third consecutive loss of the season, but their fourth loss in the past five games.
One team's fortune is going to change when the two meet on Saturday afternoon.
Here's everything you need to know heading into the game.
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC
When: Saturday, Oct. 27, 12:00 p.m. ET
Listen: WNML FM 99.1/99.3 in Knoxville, WNKT-FM 107.5 in Columbia
Live Stream: SEC Digital Network
Spread: South Carolina -14 (per VegasInsider.com)
South Carolina won the last two games between these two teams by an average of 12.5 points, which falls in line with the spread.
While both squads have the ability to put points on the board, nobody is going to confuse Tennessee's defense with what the Gamecocks bring to the table.
Take the Gamecocks giving two touchdowns.
Over/Under: 55.5 (per VegasInsider.com)
Both teams come into the game averaging more than 30 points per game, with Tennessee ahead by a field goal, 34.4 to 31.3.
However, South Carolina's defense is an elite unit compared to Tennessee's, so take the under as one team isn't going to come close to hitting its typical offensive output.
Rajion Neal remains probable for South Carolina Saturday. Zach Fulton is doubtful. Then Dooley added "unlikely" on Fulton.— @GrantRamey (@GrantRamey) October 23, 2012
RB Rajion Neal (Knee), Probable
OL Zach Fulton (Ankle), Doubtful
DB Brian Randolph (Knee), Out for Season
PK George Bullock (Leg), Out for Season
South Carolina's Steve Spurrier expects Marcus Lattimore to start vs. Vols es.pn/Pkg5yH— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) October 21, 2012
T Cody Gibson (Flu), Questionable
T Mike Matulis (Shoulder), Doubtful
DT Kelcy Quarles (Shoulder), Doubtful
RB Bradon Wilds (Ankle), Out Indefinitely
RB Shon Carson (Wrist), Out Indefinitely
BCS/Top 25 Implications
South Carolina's BCS Bowl chances likely hinge on its chances to win out the rest of the way, as another loss will not only kill its chances at a BCS Bowl, but of landing in one of the better bowl games at all.
Right now, ESPN's Bowl Projections are split on where the Gamecocks land.
Mark Schlabach has them out of the BCS picture, taking on Northwestern in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl while his counterpart, Brad Edwards, has them taking on No. 8 Oklahoma in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Key Matchup: Tennessee's Offensive Line vs. South Carolina's Pass Rush
Lost amid all of its struggles has been the play of Tennessee's offensive line, which has allowed only three sacks all year, the second-fewest in the nation.
Lined up across from it on Saturday will be a South Carolina pass rush with 29 sacks, the third-highest total in the country.
If Tennessee can stop Jadeveon Clowney and company from getting to Tyler Bray, it'll have a shot at pulling off the upset. Should it allow the Gamecocks' pass rush to have its way, what figured to be a long day for Bray figures to be a lot more difficult—and a lot more painful.
Prediction: South Carolina 35, Tennessee 14
Bray is a quality quarterback and he's going to put some points on the board. That being said, Tennessee's defense is allowing 33.3 points a game, double the 16.5 average that the Gamecocks defense is surrendering to opposing offenses.
South Carolina wins its third consecutive game against the Volunteers, keeping its hopes of playing in a BCS Bowl alive while potentially sending Tennessee coach Derek Dooley one step closer to being replaced at the end of the season.
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