South Carolina vs. Kentucky will take place on Saturday night at Kroger Field, as the Wildcats are trying to bounce back from their first loss of the season. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks will be tested for the first time in 3 weeks.

The Gamecocks started the season by losing 2 of their first 3. However, those losses came against nationally-ranked Arkansas and, at the time, top-ranked Georgia. Coach Mark Stoops has seen improvement in Shane Beamer’s squad each week.

“A team that’s much improved,” Stoops said. “They’ve had a tough SEC schedule and I’m sure (they are) very hungry to come in here and get a victory.”

Kentucky has won 7 of the last 8 in the series. South Carolina last won in Lexington in 2012 in a game coached by Joker Phillips and Steve Spurrier.

South Carolina vs. Kentucky preview

It’s a battle of 2 of the premier quarterbacks in the SEC. In fact, they’re in the top 6 by passing yards. Spencer Rattler of South Carolina has completed 98 of 151 passes this season for 1,120 yards with 4 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Will Levis of Kentucky has completed 97 of 141 passes for 12 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.

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The running game is also a key storyline in this one as South Carolina’s MarShawn Lloyd is tied for the SEC lead with 6 rushing touchdowns, as he’s churned out 324 yards for a 6.11-yard average. Meanwhile, Chris Rodriguez returned last week for Kentucky at Ole Miss following a 4-game suspension. Rodriguez had 19 carries for 72 yards and a TD.

South Carolina is trying to reverse a troubling trend. Under coach Shane Beamer, the Gamecocks are 0-4 against ranked teams, and have been outscored 176-64 in those games.

Kentucky’s defense is trying to continue solid momentum it’s built for much of the season. The second half has been a source of pride. In Kentucky’s win at Florida, the Cats held the Gators scoreless, and allowed just 91 yards on 31 plays in the second half. Against Youngstown State, the Cats surrendered 176 yards, 41 on the final drive, and no points in the second half. Against Ole Miss, Kentucky gave up just 121 yards and held Ole Miss to 3 points in the second half.

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The troubling point last week came when Kentucky gave up 2 turnovers in the final 3 minutes and fell 22-19. It was a rare blip for Kentucky, which previously had an 8-game winning streak that spanned two seasons.

The Wildcats also failed on 2 extra points at Ole Miss, had a a wide-left 39-yard field goal attempt in the first half and an illegal motion penalty that erased a potential game-winning TD pass in the final minute.

Prediction: Kentucky 30, South Carolina 17