CAROLINA VS. KENTUCKY: This is the 31st meeting between the Gamecocks and Wildcats in a series that dates back to 1937. Carolina leads the all-time series 17-12-1, including an 8-5-1 advantage in Columbia. The teams played just three times (1937, 1978 and 1981) before Carolina joined the SEC in 1992. Since then, they have met every year. Since joining the SEC, the Gamecocks own a 16-11 record against UK, including wins in 13 of the 19 meetings in this century, but the Wildcats have won each of the last five contests, their longest winning streak in the series.
SNELL-LESS ‘CATS: Thankfully for the Gamecocks, the Wildcats will be without the services of running back Benny Snell, who has finally used up his eligibility. Over the last three seasons, Snell was a thorn in the Gamecocks’ side, rushing 76 times for 274 yards and four touchdowns against Carolina defenses. He carried the pigskin a combined 60 times in the last two meetings.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: Benny Snell ran for 99 yards and one of Kentucky’s three-consecutive first-half touchdowns before the No. 17 Wildcats held on for a 24-10 win over South Carolina on Sept. 29, 2018, in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky scored on four-straight drives to take a 24-3 lead into intermission. The two teams were close in total yards (327-321 in favor of Kentucky) and first downs (20-19 in favor of Carolina) but four Gamecock turnovers proved to be the difference.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET HERE: Benny Snell rushed for 102 yards and two TDs and the Wildcat defense held Carolina to just one score over the final 59:13 as Kentucky upended the Gamecocks 23-13 in Columbia on Sept. 16, 2017. Jake Bentley connected with Deebo Samuel on a 68-yard scoring strike on the game’s first play from scrimmage, but Carolina could muster just 290 yards of offense the rest of the way. Bentley completed 24-of-36 passes for 304 yards and two scores and Samuel logged 122 yards on five catches before suffering a season-ending injury.
THE LAST CAROLINA WIN: The 13th-ranked Gamecocks opened up a 27-7 lead, but the Wildcats made it interesting with 21 fourth-quarter points before falling by a 35-28 count in Columbia on Oct. 5, 2013. Mike Davis rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Connor Shaw added 312 yards of total offense, including 262 through the air on 17-of-20 passing. Damiere Byrd had one of the top days of his career, catching five passes for 94 yards, including a 62-yard TD catch on the first drive of the game.
MUSCHAMP VS. THE CATS: Head coach Will Muschamp owns a 4-3 record against Kentucky. He was a perfect 4-0 against the Wildcats as the head coach at Florida, but has dropped all three games as the Carolina head coach.
BLUE GRASS TIES: Gamecock assistant coach Kyle Krantz served as a GA on the Wildcat staff in 2011 and 2012.
ABOUT LAST WEEK: The Missouri Tigers used a pair of defensive scores en route to a 34-14 win over South Carolina last Saturday in Columbia, Mo., taking the Mayor’s Cup for the first time since 2015. The turning point in the game came in the third quarter with Mizzou holding a 24-14 lead. The Gamecocks were three yards away from making it a three-point game, but Ronnell Perkins intercepted a pass and raced 100 yards for a touchdown, giving the Tigers a 31-14 advantage with the 14-point swing. The Gamecocks were limited to just 271 yards of offense in the contest.
EDWARDS STAYS HOT: Bryan Edwards continues to put up impressive numbers. The senior wide receiver had another big day against Missouri, hauling in six passes for 113 yards, including a career-long 75-yard touchdown reception. After being limited to just one catch for seven yards in the season opener, Edwards has hauled in 20 passes for 304 yards over the last three games, including a pair of 100-yard receiving games. With three-straight strong performances, he has moved among the SEC leaders with 5.2 receptions per game (t8th) and 77.8 receiving yards per game (8th).
CHARLTON WAS SENSATIONAL: Joseph Charlton may have had the Gamecocks’ best performance against Mizzou. The senior punter boomed eight punts for 427 yards, a 53.4-yard average, with a long of 63 and three pushing the Tigers inside the 20. It was the best day of punting for a Gamecock in the four years under head coach Will Muschamp, and moved Charlton into third among the nation’s punters with a 48.9-yard average this season.
ANOTHER GAME, ANOTHER SACK: Javon Kinlaw continues to play at a high level. The senior defensive tackle had another sack, his fourth sack in as many games this season among his four tackles at Missouri. He also recovered a fumble and was credited with a pass break up and a quarterback hurry. Kinlaw leads the SEC with 4.0 sacks this season.
AMONG THE LEADERS: Several Gamecocks are listed in the SEC’s top-10 this week:
Passing Avg/Game – Ryan Hilinski – 4th – 257.3
Receptions/Game – Bryan Edwards -t8th – 5.2
Receive Yds/Game – Bryan Edwards – 8th – 77.8
Total Offense – Ryan Hilinski – 6th – 253.7
Punt Returns – Bryan Edwards – 1st – 22.0
Scoring (Kick) – Parker White – t9th – 7.2
Kick Returns – Shi Smith – 6th – 23.1
Punting – Joseph Charlton – 2nd – 48.9
Field Goals – Parker White – t6th – 1.5
Field Goal Pct. – Parker White – 5th – 75.0
PAT Kicking Pct. – Parker White – t1st – 100.0
Tackles – Ernest Jones – t4th – 7.8
Tackles – T.J. Brunson – 9th – 7.2
Sacks – Javon Kinlaw – 1st – 1.0
Tackles for loss – Javon Kinlaw – t6th – 1.0
Tackles for loss – Aaron Sterling – t6h – 1.0
Passes Defended – Jaycee Horn – t6th – 1.0
Forced Fumbles – Jaycee Horn – t1st – 0.5
Fumbles Recovered – Javon Kinlaw – t1st – 0.5
THE B-MAC ATTACK: The Gamecock offense has been up-and-down this season, playing very well against Charleston Southern and Alabama, but struggling in losses to North Carolina and Missouri. They were virtually unstoppable against an undermanned Charleston Southern squad, rolling up a school record 775 yards, including a school record 493 on the ground. The Gamecocks scored on 11 of 13 possessions, including 10 touchdowns against the Bucs. Against Alabama, Carolina collected 459 yards while running 86 plays. The Gamecocks are eighth in the SEC in scoring offense (32.2), fifth in rushing offense (193.0) and sixth in total offense (443.8).