The Matchup: Tennessee (3-4, 0-4) at #13 South Carolina (6-2, 4-2)
When: Saturday, October 27th
Where: Columbia, South Carolina
Game Time: 12:00 PM ET
Recent History: Tennessee has all-time record of 22-6-2 against South Carolina, but the Gamecocks are on a series-high two-game winning streak. USC has also won three out of the last four.
Tennessee Will Win If: Tyler Bray protects the football. We’ve already heard from Derek Dooley that Bray will have a short leash if he’s ‘loose’ with the football. In Tennessee’s four SEC games, the TO margin is -6. I know they aren’t creating many turnovers on the porous defense, but Bray is certainly not doing his part in protecting the football. In several different instances Bray has thrown the ball up for grabs. He has to protect the football better if Tennessee has a chance to pull off this upset on the road.
South Carolina Will Win If: The Gamecocks can run the football. The last two games – Florida and LSU – South Carolina was held to 36 yards and 34 yards consecutively, directly helping result in back-to-back losses. Marcus Lattimore has to get going again, as both the Tigers and Gators keyed in and shut down the run-option with Lattimore and Connor Shaw. USC is at their best when Shaw attempts 15-20 passes and no more. In order for that to happen, the ground game has to get churning. Tennessee’s run defense is 12th in the SEC, and there will be plenty of opportunities to get back on track Saturday.
Storyline(s): The Dooley Watch will be in full effect. You think Steve Spurrier would want nothing better than to put an exclamation point on a Tennessee coach’s career with a loss, except maybe Mark Richt? Anyhow, Dooley’s seat – or stool, in his case – will go from the hot to blazing if he loses this game.
Player(s) To Watch: For Tennessee, all eyes will be on Tyler Bray. For his career, Bray has thrown 30 touchdowns to just four INTs, but against SEC competition he’s thrown only 19 touchdowns and 18 INTs with three more games played. It’s clear he doesn’t make adjustments or rise to the occasion in conference games. Bray’s taken a lot of heat this season. Let’s see how he responds Saturday in Columbia.
For South Carolina, watch Jadeveon Clowney. He was 90 percent at best and completely dominated Florida in the first half last week. No doubt he’s the #1 pick in the NFL Draft in 2014 – just watch the way he plays the game and the effect he has on the game. I have not seen a finer defensive end in the SEC. Clowney is second in sacks with 7.5 and second in tackles for loss with 14.0 in the SEC.