Friday, October 09, 2009

Gamecocks vs Wildcats Preview / Prediction

Kentucky at South Carolina, Oct. 10

The Kentucky Wildcats (2-2, 0-2), will travel to face the South Carolina Gamecocks (4-1, 1-1 SEC) in a SEC Conference college football game on Saturday afternoon. Kick off time in South Carolina is set for 12:30PM.

South Carolina is feeling pretty good about itself after being included in the AP Top 25 recently. But the Gamecocks better be careful in Saturday's game against Kentucky as it will be a tough test. This game scares me a little as South Carolina has lost its last five games when ranked in the AP poll dating back to its collapse at the end of the 2007 season.

Yes, looking at history it will show that the gamecocks have found success against the wildcats…..South Carolina has won 9 straight against Kentucky, including a 24-17 win in Lexington last season. Two years ago, Kentucky and South Carolina were both ranked in the Top 10 when the Wildcats visited Columbia. South Carolina won that game 38-23. South Carolina leads Kentucky, 16-6-1. But again the wildcats cannot be overlooked by Carolina with an upcoming date with ‘Bama next week.

Meanwhile, Kentucky is reeling, having suffered consecutive blowout losses to Florida at Alabama. UK and Coach Brooks need this game to go their way. Kentucky is 2-2 on the season and their most impressive victory was a 31-27 victory over a down Louisville Cardinals team from the Big East Conference. The wildcats are looking to rebound in Columbia and avoid the 0-3 start in the SEC.  Looking at stats these two teams are similar and it may come down to "who wants it more."

UK Offense vs. USC Defense: Kentucky starting quarterback Mike Hartline has struggled in his past two starts hitting on just 30 of 59 with 2 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in two defeats. Kentucky has had no luck with the ground game with just 4.2 yards per gain average in 152 rushing attempts on the year. The Gamecocks are only giving up 264 yards of offense per game and 4.3 yards per play against average ranking third in the SEC conference. UK will try to establish a balanced attack early with running and passing. May see UK WR Cobb in the Wildcat. USC Defense will look to take care of business and shut down the running attack and force Hartline to beat them. USC will need to get pressure and disrupt the backfield. Look for the USC secondary to step up and create TOs once UK realizes that there is no time to pass and running lanes are closed. Thus putting USC in good position to win but like most Carolina games it is up to the Defense to shut down the opposing offense.

USC Offense v UK Defense: Sophomore quarterback Stephen Garcia is hitting on 60% of his passes for 1035 yards, 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions on the year. Steve Spurrier will look to pass on the Kentucky secondary that are very young at the cornerback position especially with Lindley out. On the ground South Carolina is running by committee and is producing average numbers at 4.5 yards per carry. Teams have ran all over the Kentucky Wildcats defense this year to the tune of 190 yards per game and a 4.88 yards per carry attempt ranking 12th and last in the SEC and 107th nationally. Kentucky the last two games, allowed a combined 566 yards on the ground to Florida and Alabama. Garcia is completing better than 60 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and only two interceptions. He’s only thrown two interceptions this season and heads into Saturday’s game against Kentucky having gone 116 pass attempts without an interception.
The first quarter will hold the key in this game. Two years ago against Vanderbilt, USC committed a couple of early turnovers in their own end of the field and the Commodores jumped out to an early lead that USC was never able to overcome. Considering USC has committed just five turnovers all season, that scenario is unlikely to repeat itself unless the offense melts down. Look for the Gamecocks to establish the run early and keep the UK Defense in check, especially with a weak secondary, with a test of the long ball.

I feel this game will go the way of the gamecocks but it may not be so pretty in getting the “W” but let’s hope I am wrong and the gamecocks play with urgency and have a “killer instinct” – meaning they come out electric and just don’t let up (i.e. blowout).

After thinking about this game....I see Carolina winning 27-17 versus UK.....Go Cocks!

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