No. 10 South Carolina Gamecocks (4-1, 3-2 ATS) at Kentucky Wildcats (3-3, 4-2 ATS), Week 7 College Football, Saturday October 16th, 6:00PM Eastern Commonwealth Stadium Lexington, Kentucky
By Jay Horne, Professional Sports Handicapper of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: USC -7/University of Kentucky +7
Over/Under Total: OFF
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In case somehow you missed it, the South Carolina Gamecocks accomplished the unthinkable last week by slaying the top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide 35-21. Not only did the Gamecocks capture their first win over a number 1 ranked team in football, but they flat beat Alabama the entire game and led by as much as 21-3 mid-way through the 2nd quarter. South Carolina jumped up to the no. 10 ranking in the AP Polls this week and now must go on the road to take on the Kentucky Wildcats to continue their march towards an SEC Championship.
South Carolina has to avoid the infamous “letdown” situation against Kentucky this weekend. After a hard fought victory over Alabama, Kentucky would appear to be a breeze for the Gamecocks. However, Kentucky took no. 8 Auburn down to the wire last week and they are in the perfect position to pull of an upset when the Gamecocks come into Lexington. Despite dropping to 0-3 in SEC action, Kentucky has an offense that can give opposing defenses a very difficult time. The Wildcats posted 34 on the scoreboard against Auburn which had a defense that had allowed only 18 points per game beforehand.
Kentucky has guys at the skill positions to move the football. WR Randall Cobb is one of the best “pure” athletes in the SEC. Cobb has 32 catches for 403 receiving yards this year. Cobb also is the premier guy when Kentucky goes to their “wildcat” formation where he has run the ball 24 times for 168 yards. Tailback Derrick Locke is a great runner that has produced 574 yards already this season and he also makes the “wildcat” formation very dangerous when sharing the backfield with Cobb. Also, QB Mike Hartline has been solid throwing the football this season. Hartline has completed 66% passing for 9 touchdowns, and only 3 picks resulting in 1,442 yards. Even though the Wildcats like to run the football, Hartline gives them the opportunity to make plays in the passing game as well.
On defense, Kentucky has not been able to stop anyone which is very troubling when South Carolina brings a high octane offense into Lexington. South Carolina can run the football behind their sensational freshman tailback in Marcus Lattimore and they are extremely dangerous throwing the football as well. QB Stephen Garcia had a great performance against Alabama completing 17 of 20 passing for 201 yards, 3 scores, and 1 pick. Garcia has been solid on the season and he also has a big time wide out in Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery proved again last week why he is the best wide out in the SEC as he caught 7 passes for 127 yards and 2 scores. In fact, if the season ended right now Jeffery just may be the best wide out in the country as he has put together nothing but spectacular catches in big game scenarios.
However, Kentucky has been rather solid against the pass this season holding opponents to just 153 yards per game. Therefore, the Gamecocks will likely give the more often to their freshman tailback Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore had 23 carries for 94 yards last week which is the most Alabama has allowed to a single rusher in over 2 years. On the season, Lattimore has rushed for 459 yards and he could be the featured guy again considering how Kentucky has been unable to stop the run this season.
On defense, South Carolina was brilliant against Alabama keeping the running back tandem of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson to just 64 yards combined. However, that was after allowing Auburn to run for 334 yards in the prior outing. It will be very critical to see which South Carolina defense shows up this Saturday. If they do not come out with the same intensity as they did against Alabama, Kentucky will move the football and have a shot to score the big upset they nearly pulled off just a week ago in their last second loss to Auburn 37-34. If the Gamecocks defense shows up, I do not believe that the Kentucky defense has the personnel to stop the Gamecocks balanced offense.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier is 17-0 all-time against Kentucky. While I think the streak continues, I can see this game being too close for comfort similar to South Carolina’s 28-26 win a year ago over the Wildcats. Take Kentucky and the points.
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