The South Carolina football team opens Williams-Brice Stadium for business on Saturday night against SEC East foe Kentucky.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Below are the predictions from SEC Country contributors Mike Chapman and Hale McGranahan.
Mike Chapman: South Carolina 38, Kentucky 20
The forecast this weekend does not call for tropical storms, but instead calls for a sandstorm in Columbia as the Gamecocks open up Williams Brice Stadium for the 2017 season. Even though the South Carolina holds a 17-10-1 all-time edge over Kentucky, the Wildcats have owned the Gamecocks lately, winning their last three matchups. I don’t see No. 4 happening Saturday. What we are going to see instead is a very motivated Gamecocks football team that should control this game from start to finish.
South Carolina is simply the better team. The Gamecocks look to be more talented and better coached. Most importantly, they have playmakers with game-breaking ability at every position on offense.
They also are playing at home for the first time this season under the lights, and they owe a little payback to their opponent. The Gamecocks win this game big behind a huge day from the offense. Jake Bentley will lead the way and I see Bryan Edwards getting a score this week.
The defense will have to contend with a mobile quarterback for the first time this season. Kentucky’s Stephen Johnson will make a few plays with his legs in the first half, but adjustments at halftime should help keep him contained in the second half. The defense will be able to shut down the Kentucky running game, and we may see a defensive touchdown.
The Gamecocks will improve to 3-0, 2-0 in the SEC East, and send a lot of Gamecocks fans home very happy with the start of the season.
Hale McGranahan: South Carolina 33, Kentucky 20
Through the first two games of the season it seems like all the breaks have gone South Carolina’s way, so even if the luck runs out against Kentucky, the Gamecocks will have a fired-up crowd dressed in black to lean on when times get tough. That’s assuming that times get tough, but given recent history between these two teams, it’s safe to say that Wildcats are going to make things difficult.
Defensively, Kentucky is 11th in the country against the run, allowing opponents to rush for 58.5 yards per game. However, those opponents were Southern Miss and Eastern Kentucky, two non-Power 5 teams that almost beat the Wildcats. If Kentucky star linebacker Jordan Jones is unable to play — he’s dealing with a shoulder injury — South Carolina’s ground game has a better shot at rolling along like it did in the second half against Missouri.
Offensively, the Wildcats line is banged up. The line gave up 8 tackles for loss and 3 sacks to Eastern Kentucky. That bodes well for D.J. Wonnum, Bryson Allen-Williams and the rest of South Carolina’s pass rushers.