After a rough start to the season, No. 12 South Carolina got back on track with a 35-25 victory over Vanderbilt in Week 3.
Coming off a bye, the Gamecocks travel to Orlando to take on UCF on Saturday.
Steve Spurrier's squad took a 35-10 lead into the fourth quarter against Vanderbilt in Week 3, eventually going on to the victory. Senior quarterback Connor Shaw tossed for 284 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 84 yards in the win.
UCF (3-0) has defeated Akron, Florida International and Penn State this season.
In the 34-31 victory over the Nittany Lions, the Knights posted 507 total yards. Junior quarterback Blake Bortles passed for 288 yards with three touchdowns to one interception, while junior Storm Johnson rushed for 117 yards and a score.
Let's take a look at the matchup on Saturday in Orlando.
*Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com
When: Saturday, Sept. 28 at 12 p.m. ET
Where: BH Networks Stadium, Orlando, FL
Betting Line (via Covers.com): South Carolina -7
South Carolina Injuries (via USA Today)
Out: DE Devin Washington (Concussion)
Questionable: LB Cedrick Cooper (Elbow), C Cody Waldrop (Foot), WR Carlton Heard (Hamstring), OT Mike Matulis (Shoulder), LB Kyle Morini (Elbow), LB James King (Foot), DE Gerald Turner (Ankle)
Probable: RB Mike Davis (Ankle)
UCF Injuries (via USA Today)
Questionable: OT Torrian Wilson (Knee)
Top Storyline: Is South Carolina's Defense Overrated?
After Jadeveon Clowney and Co. ranked 13th in the nation in scoring defense last season, it was naturally expected that the unit would perform admirably in 2013.
Well, the Gamecocks rank 66th in scoring defense this season, and they've allowed 41 points to Georgia and 25 points to Vanderbilt.
Meanwhile, Clowney—who posted 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss in 12 games last season—has registered two sacks and three tackles for loss in three games this season. Part of that is because teams have been running plays away from him, but, still, that's not the kind of production many expected from the electric defensive end coming into the 2013 campaign.
UCF—which has averaged 36.7 points per game this season—is going to be motivated in this one.
Head coach George O'Leary said, via ESPN.com:
We're going to have to go out and play well on all sides of the ball -- offense, defense and special teams. I think it's like any national game anybody is playing. If you win the game you get great exposure and national attention.
UCF is one of the top five bubble teams in the AP Top 25 rankings.
Prediction: South Carolina 38, UCF 31
The 34 points put up by UCF in University Park two weeks ago was impressive. This team has balance offensively with Bortles and Johnson.
But it's worth noting that the Knights also allowed 31 points against Penn State, and South Carolina appeared to make some strides offensively against Vanderbilt with 579 yards of total offense.
In that sense, I think South Carolina's offense will save it from an upset in this matchup. The Gamecocks rank in the top 25 in the nation in yards per carry, while the Knights rank 43rd in yards allowed per carry.
South Carolina also ranks 18th in the nation in yards per pass attempt, while UCF ranks 42nd in yards allowed per pass attempt.
This figures to be a high-scoring affair. In the end, I have Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks holding on.
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