Week 8 of the 2013 college football season will be highlighted by a number of high-profile meetings between conference opponents. No group is in for as serious a test as the SEC, as five ranked teams from the prestigious conference are set to play on the road.
What will happen when the No. 11 South Carolina Gamecocks travel to play the Tennessee Volunteers in the first of many critical games? More importantly, how can you watch it?
Keep reading to find out.
When: Saturday, Oct. 19 at 12:00 p.m. ET
Where: Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn.
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Betting Lines (via VegasInsider.com):
- Over/Under: 54.5
- Spread: South Carolina (-7.5)
|Allan Carson||DL||Questionable||Undisclosed Injury|
|Marlin Lane Jr.||RB||Questionable||Lower-body Injury|
|Jacob Gilliam||OL||Questionable||Undisclosed Injury|
|Maurice Couch||DL||Questionable||Eligibility Issues|
|Michael Williams||DB||Questionable||Undisclosed Injury|
|Trevarris Saulsberry||DL||Out||MCL Injury|
|Devrin Young||WR||Out||Broken Wrist|
Mike Davis: Heisman Trophy Candidate
Through six games, South Carolina is 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the SEC. Quarterback Connor Shaw has played well, and Dylan Thompson was solid when the starter went down, but as the defense plays inconsistently and the Gamecocks keep winning, Mike Davis has become the hero.
It's time South Carolina's running back gets respect as a Heisman Trophy front-runner.
Is Mike Davis the best running back in the SEC?
Davis currently has 111 carries for 742 yards and nine touchdowns, also catching 15 passes for 185 yards. He's topped 100 yards rushing in all but one game thus far, and he had 144 yards of total offense and a running score during the outing in which he failed to reach that plateau.
During South Carolina's one-possession victories over UCF and Kentucky, Davis accounted for a combined 273 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Clutch.
South Carolina hasn't been playing like a national title contender, but Davis seems to bail the team out during every moment of weakness. Whether the Gamecocks need a goal-line run for a score or a big play to open up the field, Davis has done it all.
Up next is Tennessee, which allowed the Georgia Bulldogs to run for 238 yards on Oct. 5.
If Davis is able to shine against the Volunteers, he should be viewed as one of the top Heisman Trophy candidates. Not only are his numbers extraordinary, but his play in late-game situations is also unparalleled among players at his position.
If nothing else, Davis will show a national audience why he has the look of a legitimate NFL featured back. Whether it's a foot race or a meeting between running back and linebacker, Davis is going to win.
On Oct. 27, 2012, South Carolina used a fourth-quarter interception to outlast Tennessee 38-35 at home. On Oct. 29, 2011, the Gamecocks held the Volunteers off in a 14-3 defensive war in Knoxville. One year prior, the Gamecocks won 38-24 after entering the final 13 minutes of the game in a 24-24 tie.
No matter what their records may say, South Carolina and Tennessee routinely have memorable games.
Which team will win?
Don't expect 2013 to be any different.
Tennessee running back Rajion Neal will counter Davis on the ground, looking to build upon his season numbers of 616 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Most recently, Neal ran for 148 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns against Georgia.
Without consistent quarterback play, however, Neal and the defense won't be enough against South Carolina.
Davis is playing extraordinary football, and Shaw continues to be one of the best fourth-quarter quarterbacks in the nation. Whether or not you believe the hype, Jadeveon Clowney is due for a monster performance, and this is the perfect stage for him to shine.
It'll be a battle, but South Carolina will extend its winning streak over Tennessee to four consecutive games.
South Carolina 34, Tennessee 28