After a week away from football, South Carolina returns to action on Halloween against Texas A&M. The Gamecocks are 1-0 under interim coach Shawn Elliott, and must prepare to face an Aggies team that has dropped two in a row after a 5-0 start.
Here’s what else you need to know about Saturday’s game:
South Carolina (3-4, 1-4 SEC) at Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2 SEC)
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 31, noon ET (SEC Network)
Weather: 77 degrees, 60 percent chance of rain (Weather.com)
Line: Texas A&M -16.5
Series record: Texas A&M 1-0
By the numbers
3 — South Carolina wide receiver Pharoh Cooper has recorded three consecutive 100-yard receiving games. Four of his eight career 100-yard receiving games have come this season. Cooper’s had at least three receptions in every game this season except for the UGA game, where he was held to one catch for six yards. Last year, Cooper hauled in three passes for 58 yards and a touchdown in the season opener against A&M.
10 — Texas A&M has scored only one offensive touchdown over the last 10 quarters. In other words, that’s why coach Kevin Sumlin is re-opening the quarterback competition. The Aggies opened the season 5-0 behind Kyle Allen, but have been outmatched the past two games against Alabama and Ole Miss. Now Allen, true freshman Kyler Murray and Oklahoma State transfer Jake Hubenak are all in the mix for the starting job against South Carolina
Storylines to watch
Will Connor Mitch or Lorenzo Nunez see time under center?
Elliott assured us of one thing: Perry Orth is South Carolina’s starting quarterback. However, South Carolina’s interim coach refused to deny whether Mitch or Nunez could get snaps at quarterback Saturday against Texas A&M. All three quarterbacks are back at practice, and while Elliott did indicate Mitch is still a ways away from returning to action, Nunez is seemingly at full strength and could have some special packages designed for him. It would not be surprising to see at least two of the Gamecocks under center against Texas A&M.
Can Elliott continue to motivate the team after the bye week?
Elliott emotionally charged the South Carolina football team two Saturdays ago at Williams-Brice Stadium in the first game he coached in place of Steve Spurrier. After the open date and a routine week of practice leading up to Saturday’s game, can the fiery interim coach continue to get his players ready for a big game? This week, players have stated that they stand behind Elliott and want him to be the Gamecocks’ next coach, but if that’s the case, the team will have to beat more than just Vanderbilt over the next five games. An upset over Texas A&M, especially on the road, would say a lot.
Matchup to watch: South Carolina offensive line vs. Myles Garrett
Texas A&M’s sophomore defensive lineman leads the SEC with 8.5 sacks. Garrett also leads the Aggies in tackles for loss (13.5), forced fumbles (4) and quarterback hits (7), and also has an interception and a blocked kick. He’s a disruptive force that no other team has been able to slow down so far. Now it falls on the South Carolina offensive line to give it a go. The Gamecocks have given up 12 sacks in seven games, which is tied for sixth-fewest in the SEC. If Garrett can consistently pressure Orth and get into the South Carolina backfield, the Gamecocks are in for a long, long afternoon.
My prediction: Texas A&M 31, South Carolina 20