Location: Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, TN
Time: 12:00 PM ET on SEC Network
All-Time Series: South Carolina Leads 25-4
Last 10 Meetings: South Carolina Leads 10-0
Spread: South Carolina -13.5
Noon game in Nashville 🤙 pic.twitter.com/bvEoAdRJVq— Gamecock Football (@GamecockFB) September 28, 2020
The Vanderbilt Commodores have been the perennial doormat of the SEC for a long time, and the 2020 season is no exception.
Both head coaches are fighting for their jobs after 0-2 starts to seasons that they already began on the hot seat. Much like the rest of the SEC, South Carolina has owned Vanderbilt since the Gamecocks joined the conference in 1992.
Vanderbilt has only won this matchup twice since 2000, and have not defeated the Gamecocks since 2008.
Needless to say, this is a game that everyone close to South Carolina expect to win, and win easily.
Lets check out how these two teams match up this year.
When Vanderbilt Has The Ball
The Vanderbilt offense has been one of the worst in the nation so far this season, albeit only two games in against SEC opponents. Only two FBS teams have fewer offensive yards per game than the Commodores.
Vanderbilt also holds the sixth lowest pass yards per game, only gaining 131 yards per game through the air. Also, their 8.5 points per game is the lowest in the FBS, and they are the only team with fewer than 10 PPG.
While they have played two talented defenses in the Texas A&M Aggies and the LSU Tigers, it should be clear that the offense is not very potent.
Starting quarterback Ken Seals has totaled just 263 yards, 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions on 57% completion through his first two games.
As far as the receiving corps, no player has caught more than 6 balls on the year thus far. Their leader in receiving yards, junior Cam Johnson, has just 5 receptions for 84 yards and no touchdowns.
“When them situations came I came out like a champ” 💫🏆 pic.twitter.com/4tLiXOOHHJ— Camron Johnson (@camjohnson_23) July 11, 2019
With South Carolina’s secondary being a strong point, I expect the Vanderbilt pass game to be very limited and inefficient this Saturday.
The Vanderbilt running game has been much better than the pass game so far. Their 129 rush yards per game is just a couple yards fewer than their 131 pass yards per game, which is not common these days.
Their rush YPG even exceeds South Carolina’s 103 per game. They do have a run first offense, as even when they are losing games they stick with the run game rather than through the air.
The offensive line has played like one of the better units on the offense, only allowing five sacks on the year. For comparison, the South Carolina offensive line has already allowed for Collin Hill to be sacked 8 times.
With that said, I think this is a perfect game for the South Carolina pass rush to finally make its mark. It has been fairly underwhelming so far this year, but one big game could completely flip the confidence, and set them up to play better for the rest of the year.
A key for the Gamecocks will be to keep Vanderbilt away from third and short. If Vandy is stuck in third and long all day, there wont be much they can do and Muschamp’s defense could have a field day.
VU OL vs SC DL: Edge, South Carolina
VU RB+TE vs SC LB: Edge, South Carolina
VU WR vs SC DB: Edge, South Carolina
When South Carolina Has The Ball
This game also serves as an obvious breakout opportunity for the Gamecock offense.
The Commodores defensive unit hasn’t been as bad as its offense, but it is still subpar and short on talent compared to Carolina and the rest of the SEC. The Vanderbilt defense is currently allowing 29 points per game through its first two contests.
The performance against Texas A&M was somewhat impressive, only allowing 17 points and 372 yards, but returned back to its subpar form against LSU. Against a much better Tigers offense, they allowed 41 points and just under 500 yards of offense.
Now, South Carolina probably wont put up 500 yards and over 40 points, but they will probably split the difference between the stats of Vandy’s first two opponents.
Vanderbilt only has one sack on the season, so Collin Hill should have plenty of time to work with in passing situations.
Against the run, the Commodores allowed 6.8 yards per rush against Texas A&M and 5 yards per rush against LSU, so Kevin Harris and the other backs should have little or no trouble finding holes to get through.
Harris broke out last week with his first 100 yard game against a FBS opponent, and has a real chance to beat that total this weekend. If the Gamecocks get out to an early lead, there will be plenty of opportunities for the rest of the backfield to make their mark as well.
This game will likely turn out to be run heavy for South Carolina, especially if the Gamecocks start out hot in the first half.
Collin Hill will probably not throw the ball near as much as he did against Florida or Tennessee. This means that Shi Smith might have his first game with fewer than 10 receptions.
On the bright side, the younger receivers should have some lighter matchups and be able to make some noise more than they have been. Xavier Legette is a breakout candidate for this week in my opinion.
I hope to see Mike Bobo run a balanced offense, at least early on, and spread the ball around more than it was in the first two weeks.
SC OL vs VU DL: Edge, South Carolina
SC RB+TE vs VU LB: Edge, South Carolina
SC WR vs VU DB: Edge, South Carolina
SC QB vs VU QB: Edge, South Carolina
SC Coaching vs VU Coaching: Push
There is no real reason for this game to be particularly close unless the Gamecocks come out flat and sloppy. If South Carolina goes out and executes, especially offenively, the spread could be covered by halftime.
If Will Muschamp ends up losing this game it would be an absolute nightmare and he should be fired on the spot.
With that being said, theres still no reason to expect this game will be anything short of a blowout and South Carolina should cover the spread of -13.5.