KICKOFF: Saturday, 12:21 ET
SITE: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.
TV: SEC Network
SERIES: South Carolina leads 14-7-1 (last meeting, 2010, Kentucky 31-28)
RECORDS: Kentucky 2-3, 0-2 SEC; South Carolina 4-1, 2-1 SEC
POLLS: South Carolina (No. 18 AP, No. 14 USA Today)
KEYS TO THE GAME:
-- For Kentucky: Be ready to see a lot of RB Marcus Lattimore. South Carolina is switching quarterbacks and will start sophomore Connor Shaw over struggling senior Stephen Garcia, meaning Lattimore figures to play a big role against a Kentucky defense that is allowing 198.8 yards per game. The Wildcats have to give QB Morgan Newton time to throw.
-- For South Carolina: Run Marcus Lattimore. The Gamecocks have gotten away from their biggest offensive weapon in their last two games. For the offense to be successive, Lattimore must lead the way, especially with sophomore Connor Shaw is taking over at quarterback.
SCOUTING THE TEAMS:
Junior QB Morgan Newton hasn't stepped up to lead Kentucky's offense. He is completing just 50 percent of his passes and has as many interceptions as touchdown pass (six each). Freshman RB Josh Clemons has been the lone productive rusher, though the Wildcarts are hoping that sophomore Raymond Sanders will be back after the upcoming bye week. Junior WR La'Rod King has 21 catches for 307 yards as the lone receiver making an impact. The offensive line has been hit by injuries.
Defensively, the Wildcats have two big-time players in senior LB Danny Trevathan (59 tackles) and senior S/LB Winston Guy (53 tackles). The two players rank one-two in the SEC in tackles and have combined for 12 tackles for loss -- 6.5 by Guy and 5.5 by Trevathan. MLB Ronnie Sneed (37 tackles) consistently does his job. Kentucky has just seven sacks and badly misses DE Collins Ukwu, who is battling a knee injury.
South Carolina's offense has yet to have what coach Steve Spurrier would term a good performance. Now there will be a change at quarterback with sophomore Connor Shaw at the helm for only the second time in place of Stephen Garcia. Regardless of who is under the center, the Gamecocks must find a way to return to getting the football to sophomore RB Marcus Lattimore. Because of Garcia's inability to get anything going through the air, Auburn stacked the box with the intent of stopping the league's top back and Lattimore ran the ball only 17 times in the contest.
For the third consecutive week, South Carolina's defense displayed improvement in its journey to become the dominant unit predicted in the preseason. Particularly impressive has been the line, led by senior DE Melvin Ingram. The least-publicized member of a line featuring All-SEC performer DE Devin Taylor and DE Jadeveon Clowney, the top high school player in America last season, Ingram has out-shined both. He leads the team with 7.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Despite the solid play, the Gamecocks allowed Auburn to score the game-winning touchdown with the clock winding down.
Wildcats: Kentucky is facing a ranked opponent for the third consecutive week after losing to Florida and LSU in its last two games. A break in the schedule is coming up with Jacksonville State coming to Lexington coming up after the open date. But that may not be all that big a break. The FCS team beat an SEC opponent last year, winning the season opener at Ole Miss. ... The Wildcats ended a 10-game losing streak to the Gamecocks by rallying for a three-point victory last season. The outcome marked the first time coach Steve Spurrier had ever lost to Kentucky. He was 12-0 at Florida and is now 5-1 at South Carolina. ... Kentucky has allowed 21 sacks in five games. Only Pittsburgh (22) has allowed more. The offensive line has been shaky, and QB Morgan Newton has drawn criticism for holding the ball too long from coach Joker Phillips and offensive coordinator Randy Sanders. ... The Wildcats rank 11th nationally in pass defense while allowing just 163.6 yards per game. Opponents have completed just 45.9 percent of their passes. ... The Wildcats also are 11th nationally in net punting (41.0 yards per attempt) and 13th in pass efficiency defense. ... LB Danny Trevathan leads the SEC in tackles with 59.
Gamecocks: South Carolina is 6-3-1 against Kentucky in games played in Columbia. The loss to the Wildcats in Lexington last year snappe a 10-game winning streak for the Gamecocks in the series. ... DE Melvin Ingram was named the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week for the second consecutive week after picking up 11 tackles, which included 4.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks, in the loss to Auburn. He also recorded an interception. The senior has been the Gamecocks' breakout player this season, as he has been honored three times by the SEC, once as Special Teams Player of the Week. He is tied for third on the team in tackles with 26. He has a team-leading 7.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks to go with two interceptions. ... CB C.C. Whitlock has played well in all but one game this season. He is finally beginning to get attention following a two-interception performance against Auburn. He has given the Gamecocks stability at the cornerback slot opposite All-SEC performer Stephon Gilmore. His solid play is imperative, as teams will continue to test him. ... Spurrier announced earlier this week that sophomore QB Connor Shaw would get the start ahead of senior Stephen Garcia.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
QB Morgan Newton -- The pressure is on after a poor performance (6-of-20 passing for 57 yards) against LSU. Newton has thrown for 124 or fewer yards in four of five games. That isn't going to get it done with a team that will continue to find itself trailing in games during conference play.
S/OLB Winston Guy -- Moving the senior closer to the line of scrimmage in a hybrid role has been a success. He leads the Wildcats in both tackles for loss (6.5) and interceptions (two). He had an interception last season when Kentucky upset South Carolina.
DT Mister Cobble -- Time for him to step up in a big way with South Carolina star RB Marcus Lattimore running well. Cobble has 17 tackles but just three solo stops.
QB Connor Shaw -- South Carolina found itself quickly down by 14 points to East Carolina in Shaw's only other start this season. Coach Steve Spurrier inserted Stephen Garcia in the second quarter in that game, as planned, and the fifth-year senior led the comeback to an easy victory. Shaw has seen little playing time since that point but will get the start after Garcia's struggles.
WR Alshon Jeffery -- The junior All-American finally made one of his signature catches on a 50-yard touchdown against Auburn. He has not had the type of season statistically that he had the last two campaigns. He will be looking to quickly form chemistry with Shaw and the two stayed late after practice working on routes this week.
DE Collins Ukwu (knee, out), WR Gene McCaskill (back, questionable), DT Mark Crawford (shoulder, questionable).
DE Melvin Ingram (foot, questionable), LT Kyle Nunn (back, out), WR Jason Barnes (hamstring, day-to-day), TB Kenny Miles (wrist, day-to-day.
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