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South Carolina vs. Tennessee: Complete Preview and Prediction

COLUMBIA, SC - OCTOBER 01:  Head coach Steve Spurrier yells to the referees as time expires against the Auburn Tigers at Williams-Brice Stadium on October 1, 2011 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Michael DixonAnalyst IIIOctober 25, 2011

On Saturday, the South Carolina Gamecocks (6-1, 4-1) travel Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers (3-4, 0-4) in an SEC tilt.

Both teams have had tumultuous seasons, but South Carolina has obviously done a much better job surviving their run.

When the two teams met in 2010, South Carolina beat Tennessee 38-24.

Where: Neyland Stadium. Knoxville, Tenn.

When: Saturday, October 29 at 7:15 p.m. EDT

Watch: ESPN2. Streamed at ESPN3.com

Listen: WNKT-FM 107.5 FM in Columbia, WIKV 107.7 in Knoxville.

Betting Line

South Carolina (-4), according to Bodog. This is potentially a trap game for the Gamecocks, but I am going with them to win and cover.

 

Key Storyline

Can South Carolina survive without RB Marcus Lattimore and QB Stephen Garcia?

 

Who Might Not Play for South Carolina

CB Akeem Auguste (foot), T Kyle Nunn (back), FB Matt Coffee (knee), and RB Marcus Lattimore (knee) are out for the season.

RB Jacob Baker (knee) is out indefinitely.

T Rokevious Watkins (head), TE Justice Cunningham (calf), S Brison Williams (quadricep), S Corey Addison (head), and RB Kenny Miles (wrist) are questionable.

 

Who Might Not Play for Tennessee

WR Naz Oliver (wrist), and WR Justin Hunter (knee) are out for the year.

DL Stephen Fowlkes (academics), QB Tyler Bray (thumb), and LB Herman Lathers (ankle) are out for the year

 

BCS/Top 25 Implications

South Carolina currently sits atop the SEC East. Actually, they are tied, but have already beaten their closest competition, Georgia. Their spot in the Top 25 is safe, but more wins are a must if they are going to stay in the SEC East race.

Tennessee's chances at getting into the Top 25 this year are slim to none. They need to find a way to win some games if they are going to make any bowl this year.

 

What They're Saying

ESPN's Chris Low wrote in his SEC blog that the Gamecocks will have a hard time replacing Lattimore, on and off of the field.

Simply, this is not the same team emotionally without Lattimore. For all of his success on the field, recapturing that edge without him the rest of the way will be South Carolina’s stiffest challenge.

 

South Carolina Player to Watch

Connor Shaw is the key. Replacing Garcia, in addition to making up for the loss of Lattimore, Shaw will need to be in charge of the offense and not make any mistakes. If that happens, they will win this one easily.

COLUMBIA, SC - OCTOBER 08:  Connor Shaw #14 of the South Carolina Gamecocks drops back to pass during their game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Williams-Brice Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

 

Tennessee Player to Watch

RB Tauren Poole has been effective in games that the Volunteers have won and terrible in games that they have lost. This isn't a coincidence.

He'll need to be a major factor this week.

 

On the Hot seat

Derek Dooley needs to get his team in gear. Given the injuries and sanctions to Tennessee's program, he's probably safe through the season. But without showing that the program is heading in the right direction, it's hard to see his leash being terribly long.

 

Prediction

Despite the injuries, South Carolina is still the better team in this game. It will be reasonably close, but the Gamecocks have the edge.

 

South Carolina 27, Tennessee 20.

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