LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- South Carolina is a program that Kentucky has consistently defeated during the Wildcats’ rise to the mid-tier of the Southeastern Conference East Division.
The Wildcats are favored to extend their dominance in 2021 when they play their first SEC road game Saturday night.
It’s also the first meeting between UK coach Mark Stoops and Shane Beamer of South Carolina. The son of Hall of Fame coach Frank Beamer, Shane Beamer took over from Will Muschamp after last season. Beamer worked for Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma.
TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m., Brice-Williams Stadium, Columbia, South Carolina
WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN: TV — ESPN2, (Brian Custer, play by play; Kelly Stouffer, analyst; Lauren Sisler, sidelines); Radio — UK Radio Network, WHAS 840 AM (Tom Leach, play by play; Jeff Piercoro, analyst; Dick Gabriel, sidelines).
THE LINE: Point spread — Kentucky by five; Over/Under total points 48 1/2.
THE LAST TIME: UK defeated the Gamecocks, 41-18, last December in Lexington, extending UK’s recent dominance in the series to six wins in seven games.
THE RECORDS: Kentucky 3-0, with an SEC win against Missouri; South Carolina: 2-1, but 0-1 in league play after losing at Georgia, 40-13, last weekend.
PLAYER TO WATCH KENTUCKY: Quarterback Will Levis. The Gamecocks’ defense leads the SEC with six interceptions, grabbing two in each of their three games. Overall, South Carolina ranks fifth in the SEC in passing yards per game allowed at 179. Levis has been solid while leading Kentucky to three wins, but his four interceptions are the second most in the SEC, trailing only Emory Jones of Florida.
PLAYER TO WATCH SOUTH CAROLINA: Quarterback Luke Doty. Slowed by a sore foot, Doty finally returned in a reserve role at Georgia last Saturday. He completed half of his 26 throws for 153 yards and a touchdown with one interception. Doty was a major in-state recruit for South Carolina in its 2020 class out of Myrtle Beach. Although he played well in the Gamecocks’ final three games last season as a true freshman, he was not able to lead South Carolina to any victories.
SIDELINE STORYLINES: Kentucky will push for its second 2-0 start in SEC games since 1977. This is the third time in five seasons the Wildcats have opened 3-0. Their last 4-0 start was 2018, when UK started 5-0 on its way to a 10-3 season. A victory would give Stoops his 26th win in SEC play, the most by any UK coach. With 1,739 career yards rushing, UK halfback Chris Rodriguez needs 232 yards to move into the school’s all-time top 10. Rodriguez has rushed for 125, 207 and 46 yards this season. His 378 total leads the SEC. South Carolina returns home after back-to-back road games. In their only home game, South Carolina defeated Eastern Illinois, 46-0, in front of an announced crowd of 64,868 at Brice-Williams Stadium, which holds 77,559. UK offensive line coach Eric Wolford worked at South Carolina under Steve Spurrier and then returned to serve Muschamp as the offensive line coach the last four seasons.
THE QUOTE: UK coach Mark Stoops said that he sees similarities between the Gamecocks and Wildcats:
“You see some under center, you see the run game carryover, you see the play-action, you see the shots — I feel like they have some guys that can hurt you outside, they have some difference-makers at wide receiver, but they also have some really good backs. So (they are a) very, very good team.”
THE PICK: Kentucky 27, South Carolina 21.
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