Tomorrow night at 7 ET on ESPN2, No. 12 South Carolina and Vanderbilt will face off in the first SEC game at Williams-Brice this season. So far, both teams are undefeated in and out of the conference.
South Carolina is favored to win by 16 points, but I’m not quite sure why. The Gamecocks have looked pretty mediocre as a whole, and this is the time to prove that they deserve their No. 12 ranking.
USC has relied heavily on Marcus Lattimore, and likely will do so again. The guy is a beast, but he can’t be the whole team. QB Stephen Garcia needs to get it together and get his good mojo back, because he’s been approaching the road to disaster the past few weeks.
Alshon Jeffery will certainly look to have a more productive game that last week (when he was virtually a non-factor), and guys like Ace Sanders, Nick Jones, and Justice Cunningham will probably get some chances to shine, too.
Defensively, this could finally be Jadeveon Clowney’s big breakout game. He’s been good and useful when on the field, but look for him to maybe get some more playing time against the Commodores. Melvin Ingram, Stephon Gilmore, and Antonio Allen will also try to continue improving on their seasons, and especially Allen, who’s been a stud and appears headed for a spectacular season.
The ‘Dores lead the country in intercepting the ball, with 10 total takeaways, three of which have been turned into scores. Trey Wilson leads the SEC in interceptions with three, so the Cocks will have to keep him away from the ball. Garcia will have to maintain good accuracy if he doesn’t want to give anyone on the Vandy defense any chances to score. Vanderbilt also likes to blitz, something South Carolina will have to pay attention to. O-lineman Chris Marve leads the SEC with 23 tackles so far this season.
Vandy is less strong on the other side of the ball. Offensively, the Commodores have rushed for 177 yards per game on average this season, and will likely look to stick with a running game. When they do gain yardage through the air, it won’t be a whole lot. They’ve stuck to short slant and screen passes so far this season, and you can expect they’ll do the same tomorrow night.
This is the first time Vanderbilt has been 3-0 since 2008, and they certainly hope to create history this year, just like the Gamecocks are trying to do. This is a big game for both teams, and the underdog Commordores aren’t going to back down, but they will have a challenge in containing Lattimore.
On paper, USC should come away with the win. If they can finally get all parts of the game clicking, then the Cocks should be victorious on the field. If they can’t, though, they could see their so far perfect season come to an end. I’m cautiously predicting a Gamecocks win, but they’ll need to play as a solid team for that to happen.