We’ve already weighed in on Saturday’s gridiron match-up between the University of South Carolina and Tennessee – and the whopping 17.5 points that odds-makers are giving the Volunteers against the No. 17 Gamecocks.
We’ve also already weighed in on the controversy surrounding first-year Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley, who let his love of military history get the best of him during a press conference earlier this week.
Our prediction? Carolina will roll … and Dooley’s comments won’t succeed in taking the heat off of his team’s struggling offense.
Seriously, people … not even taunting Tweets from Rock Hill, S.C. newsbabe Dianne Gallagher (a big-time UT fan) are enough to shake our confidence in what should be sweet revenge for last year’s Halloween Night Massacre.
Tennessee’s only real hope against the Gamecocks (5-2, 3-2 SEC) is to throw the football … something they’ve proven incapable of doing this year. Of course Tennessee (2-5, 0-4 SEC) can’t run the football, either, which presents something of a dilemma …
Anyway, courtesy of the USC sports information office, here are Saturday’s game notes …
SOUTH CAROLINA TENNESSEE GAME NOTES
SETTING THE STAGE
• No. 17 South Carolina returns home for the first time in three weeks to face its third straight SEC Eastern Division foe as the Tennessee Volunteers visit Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is set for 12:21 p.m. ET with the SEC Network providing a regional television broadcast.
• The Gamecocks are 5-2 (3-2 SEC) and lead the SEC East after getting a big SEC road win with a 21-7 victory at Vanderbilt on Saturday night. The Volunteers are 2-5 (0-4 SEC) after falling at home to No. 7 Alabama on Saturday, 41-10.
• This marks the 29th game in the series between South Carolina and Tennessee that dates back to 1903. The Volunteers lead the all-time series 22-4-2, including an 8-3-2 advantage in games played in Columbia. Tennessee is 14-1 against Carolina all-time in Knoxville. The Vols won last year’s meeting 31-13 at Knoxville, but the Gamecocks took a 27-6 victory in the last meeting in Columbia.
• Since the 2000 season, the South Carolina-Tennessee series has been the most tightly-contested between any two schools in the Southeastern Conference. Tennessee owns an 8-2 advantage in that stretch, but the average margin of victory – by either team – is a mere 8.5 points. Seven of the last 10 contests have been decided by less than 10 points.
South Carolina: Steve Spurrier (Florida `67)
- Overall: 182-70-2 (21st season)
- at South Carolina: 40-30 (6th season)
- vs. Tennessee: 11-8 (2-3 at Carolina)
Tennessee: Derek Dooley (Virginia ’90)
- Overall: 19-25 (4th season)
- at Tennessee: 2-5 (1st season)
- vs. South Carolina: First meeting
• Sophomore WR Alshon Jeffery leads the SEC and is third in the nation in receiving yards per game, averaging 121.1 yards per contest. He also leads the league with 7.0 catches per game. With 158 yards against Vanderbilt, Jeffery moved into the all-time top-10 in career receiving yards at Carolina with 1,611 yards, passing Ira Hillary (1,566) for 10th all-time.
• Carolina had a 100-yard rusher and two 100-yard receivers in a single game for the first time in school history last week at Vanderbilt. Brian Maddox came off the bench to rush for 146 yards, and Alshon Jeffery (158) and Tori Gurley (112) topped the century mark through the air. All three scored a touchdown in the game, as well.
• WR Tori Gurley set a school record with 14 receptions vs. Vanderbilt; matching Zola Davis (Vanderbilt `98) and Kenny McKinley (Tennessee `07) for the all-time single-game mark at South Carolina
• Junior QB Stephen Garcia currently has 5,375 passing yards for his career and would surpass both Phil Petty (5,652) and Anthony Wright (5,681) for fourth on the career passing charts with a 307-yard effort against Tennessee.
• Despite missing the Vanderbilt game, freshman RB Marcus Lattimore is on pace to become South Carolina’s all-time leader in single-season touchdowns. In six games this year, he has scored 12 times; the single-season record is 16 by Harold Green in 1987. Lattimore is eight touchdowns shy of the SEC record for freshmen, held by Tennessee’s Reggie Cobb, who scored 20 times in 1987.
• QB Stephen Garcia is second in the SEC and fifth in the nation with a pass efficiency rating of 170.2.
• The Gamecocks lead the Southeastern Conference and are ranked No. 5 in the nation with 24 sacks (3.43 per game).
A SOUTH CAROLINA WIN OVER TENNESSEE WOULD…
- Keep South Carolina as the leader in the SEC Eastern Division with two conference games to play.
- Give South Carolina its sixth straight home victory and its 13th win in 14 home games, dating back to a 27-6 win over Tennessee on Nov. 1, 2008.
- Give the Gamecocks their fourth SEC win of the season, guaranteeing a .500 SEC regular-season record for the sixth time since joining the conference in 1992.
- Move South Carolina to 6-2 for the second straight year and the third time in four seasons.
- Guarantee at least a .500 regular-season record for the seventh straight season, tying the school-record streak of non-losing seasons set from 1928-34.
THIS WEEK’S OPPONENT: TENNESSEE
The Tennessee Volunteers, at 2-5 overall and 0-4 in the Southeastern Conference, are in their first year under head coach Derek Dooley. Dooley, who coached the previous three years at Louisiana Tech, is the Vols’ third coach in three seasons after Lane Kiffin left after one year to become head coach at Southern California. Last season, Tennessee finished 7-6 overall, 4-4 in the SEC (tied for 2nd in the SEC East) and played in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, falling to Virginia Tech 37-14.
GAMECOCKS AND VOLUNTEERS
• This is the 29th all-time meeting between South Carolina and Tennessee. The Volunteers hold a 22-4-2 all-time advantage, including an 8-3-2 mark in games played in Columbia. The Vols lead 14-1 in games played at Knoxville.
• South Carolina won the last meeting in Columbia, 27-6, on Nov. 1, 2008. It was the second-largest margin of victory for South Carolina in the series.
• The teams first met in 1903 with the Gamecocks earning a 24-0 victory at home. After three meetings prior to World War II (and one during the war in 1942), the teams met five more times in the late 60s-early 70s; Tennessee won or tied every meeting in that stretch.
• Since joining the SEC, Carolina has beaten Tennessee three times – a 24-23 win on Halloween 1992 in Columbia (on the day that scenes for “The Program” were filmed at Williams-Brice Stadium), a 16-15 thriller on Josh Brown’s 45-yard field goal in 2005 in Knoxville, and a 27-6 win at home on Nov. 1, 2008.
TIES WITH TENNESSEE
• South Carolina has no players from the state of Tennessee, but the Vols have four from the Palmetto State – DE Keenesen Chambers (Greenville), DE Corey Miller (Wellford), OL Marques Pair (Sumter), and OG JerQuari Schofield (Aiken).
• Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore and Tennessee DE Corey Miller were teammates at Byrnes HS in Duncan, S.C.
• Gamecock running backs coach Jay Graham was a standout running back at Tennessee from 1993-96, rushing for 2,609 yards to rank sixth on the Vols’ all-time rushing list. He scored 25 touchdowns as a Vol, and had the second-best single season in school history with 1,438 yards on 272 carries in 1995.
• Carolina assistant coach Shane Beamer was a graduate assistant at Tennessee under Phillip Fulmer from 2001-03 and earned a master’s degree in sport science from UT in December 2003. In Beamer’s stint at UT, the Vols won the 2001 SEC Eastern Division title and had an overall record of 29-10.
SPURRIER VS. TENNESSEE
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier, a native of Johnson City, Tenn., has faced Tennessee more than any other opponent in his 21-year collegiate coaching career. He is 11-8 all-time against the Volunteers, including a 2-3 mark at Carolina. He was 1-1 against UT while coaching at Duke, and had a 8-4 record against the Vols while head coach at Florida. This will be Spurrier’s 20th meeting with the Vols; the only year as a head coach he did not face Tennessee was his first season at Duke in 1987.
SPURRIER VS. DOOLEY
• For the third consecutive week, Steve Spurrier will be facing an opposing head coach for the first time. This is the first meeting between Spurrier and Derek Dooley as head coaches.
• The two have been on opposite sidelines before, with Spurrier as head coach at Duke (1987-89) and Dooley as a wide receiver at the University of Virginia. Dooley’s Cavaliers defeated Spurrier’s Blue Devils 42-17 in 1987 before Spurrier came back with a 38-34 win in 1988. Dooley and Virginia defeated eventual ACC Champion Duke in 1989, 49-28.
• Dooley was a graduate assistant at Georgia in 1996 when Spurrier’s top-ranked Gators defeated the Bulldogs, 47-7, en route to a national championship. Four years later, Dooley was on LSU’s sideline as the tight ends coach as Florida knocked off the Tigers 41-9 (2000) and 44-15 (2001).
• Dooley is one of two FBS head coaches that will have faced a Spurrier-coached team both as a player and as a head coach. The other is Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, who played at Alabama from 1989-92.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
The Gamecocks have an all-time record of 250-177-14 (.583)at Williams-Brice Stadium since its original construction as Carolina Stadium in 1934. Under Steve Spurrier, the Gamecocks are 26-12 (.684) on their home field. South Carolina has won five in a row at home and 12 of its last 13, dating back to a victory over Tennessee on Nov. 1, 2008. In that 13-game stretch, Carolina has outscored its opponents 372-203, with an average margin of victory of 13 points per game.
The Gamecocks have played just two overtime games in their history, both at Tennessee. They dropped a 23-20 decision in Knoxville on Sept. 27, 2003, then fell by a 27-24 score on Oct. 27, 2007, also at Neyland Stadium. Every other SEC team has played at least three overtime games since the rule was established in 1996.
THE 100 CLUB
• In its 21-7 victory at Vanderbilt, South Carolina had a player rush for 100 yards and two players receive for 100 yards in the same game for the first time in school history. RB Brian Maddox came off the bench to rack up 146 yards on 24 carries with one touchdown, while WR Alshon Jeffery caught nine passes for 155 yards – including a show-stopping 72-yard touchdown – and WR Tori Gurley shattered his previous career highs wiith a school-record 14 catches for 112 yards and a score.
• One other time this season, Carolina has had a 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver in the same game. Against Georgia, RB Marcus Lattimore carried 37 times for 182 yards while WR Alshon Jeffery caught seven passes for 103 yards.
• Jeffery has topped the 100-yard receiving mark five times this year, with a career- and season-best coming with 192 yards at Auburn. Lattimore has one 100-yard game, as do both Maddox and Gurley.
WINNING MORE OFTEN
The Gamecocks have posted six consecutive seasons of at least a .500 record, going 6-5 in 2004, 7-5 in 2005, 8-5 in 2006, 6-6 in 2007, and 7-6 in both 2008 and 2009. If the Gamecocks get to that .500 mark this season – which they would with a win this week – it will equal a school-record stretch from 1928-34 in which the Gamecocks had seven straight winning seasons.
South Carolina has been at its best in the first half, outscoring opponents 135-55 in the first two quarters, including a 70-16 edge in the opening stanza. Last week’s game at Vanderbilt was a major aberration as the Gamecocks failed to score in the opening quarter for the first time all season. This is a stark contrast from last season, when the Gamecocks were outscored 162-134 in the opening half, including an 81-65 deficit in the first quarter. In 2009, the Gamecocks’ best quarter was the third as they held an 87-39 scoring advantage; this year, the Gamecocks have controlled the third quarter by a 41-29 count.
GAMECOCKS AS A RANKED TEAM
Under Steve Spurrier, the Gamecocks have been a ranked team heading into 21 contests. Carolina is 10-11 in those opportunities when appearing in the national rankings. In home games, Carolina is 8-3 when ranked under Spurrier, including a 5-0 mark at home over the last two seasons. Carolina is 2-8 in road contests as a ranked squad.
- 2010 (3-2)
- Sept. 11 – #24 Carolina 17, #19 Georgia 6 (Columbia)
- Sept. 18 – #13 Carolina 38, Furman 19 (Columbia)
- Sept. 25 – #14 Auburn 35, #12 Carolina 27 (Auburn)
- Oct. 9 – #19 Carolina 35, #1 Alabama 21 (Columbia)
- Oct. 16 – Kentucky 31, #10 Carolina 28 (Lexington)
- Oct. 23 – #19 Carolina 21, Vanderbilt 7 (Nashville)
- 2009 (2-2)
- Oct. 10 – #25 Carolina 28, Kentucky 26 (Columbia)
- Oct. 17 – #2 Alabama 20, #22 Carolina 6 (Tuscaloosa)
- Oct. 24 – #23 Carolina 14, Vanderbilt 10 (Columbia)
- Oct. 31 – Tennessee 31, #21 Carolina 13 (Knoxville)
- 2008 (0-2)
- Sept. 4 – Vanderbilt 24, #24 Carolina 17 (Nashville)
- Nov. 15 – #3 Florida 56, #24 Carolina 6 (Gainesville)
- 2007 (4-4)
- Sept. 15 – #17 Carolina 38, S.C. State 3 (Columbia)
- Sept. 22 – #2 LSU 28, #12 Carolina 16 (Baton Rouge)
- Sept. 29 – #16 Carolina 38, Miss. State 21 (Columbia)
- Oct. 4 – #11 Carolina 38, #8 Kentucky 23 (Columbia)
- Oct. 13 – #7 Carolina 21, North Carolina 15 (Chapel Hill)
- Oct. 20 – Vanderbilt 17, #6 Carolina 6 (Columbia)
- Oct. 27 – Tennessee 27, #15 Carolina 24 (OT) (Knoxville)
- Nov. 3 – Arkansas 48, #23 Carolina 36 (Fayetteville)
- 2006 – Not ranked
- 2005 (0-1)
- Nov. 19 – Clemson 13, #19 Carolina 9 (Columbia)
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: OCT. 31, 2009
Decked out in black jerseys, Tennessee took three South Carolina fumbles and turned them into touchdowns as the Volunteers beat the No. 21 Gamecocks 31-13 on Halloween night at Neyland Stadium. South Carolina (6-3, 3-3) fumbled on its first two drives on a rainy night, having entered the game with only five for the season. Tennessee, hampered by turnovers early in the season, did not give the ball away for the first time this season. The Gamecocks began clicking on offense in the second half as the Vols sputtered. Stephen Garcia connected with Moe Brown on a 31-yard touchdown pass to cut the margin to 28-13 with 2:05 left in the third quarter, but it was too little too late. South Carolina outgained Tennessee on offense 365 yards to 341 and had four more first downs. Garcia completed 25 of 50 for 300 yards and an interception.
Pic: Travis Bell, Sideline Carolina