Location: Kroger Field, Lexington, Kentucky
Time: 7:30 on SEC Network
All-Time Series: South Carolina leads 18-12
Spread: Kentucky -11.5
This meeting is the final game of the season for both teams, and that is somewhat bittersweet in both corners. Both of these teams have had disappointing seasons and are limping to the finish line.
South Carolina is on a five game losing streak while Kentucky has lost four of its last five. With that said, both teams are still in play for bowl season since there is not a record requirement this year, and finishing with a W would go a long way in that regard.
Let’s check out some of the details about this matchup.
When South Carolina Has The ball
True freshman Luke Doty will be able to tally his second career start this weekend, and this matchup is a little more friendly than last weeks.
The Kentucky defense is giving up 27.3 points per game this season, which is good for 7th in the SEC. The Wildcats pass defense has been much better than their run defense so far, which bodes well for Gamecock running back Kevin Harris.
Harris is 72 yards shy of being the first Carolina player to rush for 1,000 yards since Mike Davis in 2013. It has been noted that the offensive unit has made it a goal to get Harris to that landmark, and I expect to see Carolina running the ball early and often.
Luke Doty should also be involved in the ground game, as he is one of the more electric players on the team with the ball in his hands. However, Doty has already shown the ability to be accurate throwing the football if Kentucky chooses to focus on stopping the quarterback’s running ability.
Wide receiver Shi Smith is set to return to the lineup Saturday after being out since the first half of the Missouri game, and this will be his first action with Luke Doty in at quarterback.
As for Kentucky, defensive back and team interception leader Kelvin Joseph will miss the game this Saturday, which only goes to help the South Carolina offense.
The Gamecocks will need to account for senior linebacker Jamar Watson, who leads the Wildcats with 5 sacks on the season.
I hope to see Mike Bobo run the ball until he is forced to pass, especially since the weather is looking to be cold and wet.
Time of possession will be important in a game like this, and the field position battle will be another underrated aspect of the game that could go a long way.
SC OL vs UK DL: Push
SC RB+TE vs UK LB: Push
SC WR vs UK DB: Push
When Kentucky Has The ball
Quarterback Terry Wilson holds the reigns of the Kentucky offense, but has been somewhat of a disappointment this season. Wilson has just 894 passing yards, 7 touchdowns and 4 interceptions on the season so far, but has also added 364 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground.
As a whole, the Kentucky offense ranks dead last in the SEC with only 291 yards per game. The running back duo is a solid one-two punch between Chris Rodriguez and Asim Rose, who have combined for 979 yards on the ground.
Chris Rodriguez ICES IT for Kentucky (-16.5)— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 14, 2020
Leading wide receiver Josh Ali could end up having a decent outing considering how decimated the secondary is for South Carolina.
The offensive line is the strong point of the Wildcats offense, and they have multiple guys who will be playing on Sundays in the near future.
As for the South Carolina defense, the group is almost as thin as it could be. The lineup will look almost entirely different than it did to begin the season, and the huge injury/opt out numbers are bringing back dreaded memories of the end of the 2018 season.
It is sad to say, but when Kentucky has the football it will be a display of bad vs bad. As for the gameplan defensively, I hope to see South Carolina crowd the line of scrimmage and focus on stopping the run, and force Terry Wilson throw the ball deep downfield.
Wilson has been very questionable this season throwing the football, and I think it would give Carolina their best chance if they sellout to stop the run. Especially since the weather is going to make it tougher to throw, the Kentucky offense will have a hard time getting things going if they cant run the football.
Even with a young and inexperienced secondary, I think that this would be the way to go.
UK OL vs SC DL: Advantage, Kentucky
UK RB+TE vs SC LB: Push
UK WR vs SC DB: Push
UK QB vs SC QB: Advantage, SC
UK Coaching vs SC Coaching: Advantage, Kentucky
It was once expected to snow during this game, but instead it is looking like it will just be cold, and maybe a little wet. I definitely believe that this will be a low scoring, hard nosed battle won off of effort and toughness.
Factors like time of possession, turnovers, and field position will go a very long way in deciding the outcome of this game. While South Carolina is a double digit underdog, I think that taking the points will be a safe bet in this one, especially since it is probably going to be low scoring.
The bookies are on Kentucky, but for some reason I feel good about South Carolina in this season finale.
I’m picking the Gamecocks to pull off the upset and finish on a good note.
Prediction: South Carolina 20, Kentucky 17