Series history - Tennessee

In this series, GamecockAnthem takes a look at the series history of each of the opponents in the 2012 season. Today we take a look at what could end up being a key game against Tennessee.

Series history – Tennessee leads 22-6-2; in Columbia Tennessee leads 8-4-2
Last 10 meetings – Tennessee leads 6-4
Under Spurrier – South Carolina leads 4-3
Largest margin of victory – Tennessee 54-0 in 1929
Closest margin of victory – South Carolina 24-23 in 1992, 16-15 in 2005
Last game – South Carolina 14-3

Much like the Florida series, this series was dominated by Tennessee for many years. Carolina was able to win the first meeting in 1903 with a 24-0 win at home. The Vols would win seven of the next nine contests with a 6-6 and 0-0 tie thrown in. That is when Carolina joined the SEC and beat Tennessee, 24-23 in their first meeting in 1992.

That would serve as a wake-up call for Tennessee as they would win the next 12 meetings. Some were blowouts as evidenced by a 55-3 beating the following year, a 56-21 win in 1995, and a 49-14 win in 1998. There were also some close ones with Tennessee winning 23-20 in overtime in 2003, a late touchdown in a 17-14 win in 2000, and a 17-10 win in 2001.

Just as with the Gators, when Spurrier arrived in Columbia he quickly produced a historical win in Knoxville and the tide has turned in the series. The Gamecocks won for the first time on Rocky Top with a 16-15 win as Spurrier got Phil Fulmer and the Vols once again. Tennessee would rebound to win the next two meetings, including a 27-24 overtime victory in 2007. The Gamecocks have won three out of the last four with all three wins by double figures.

Last time out – The 2011 meeting was anything but pretty, but it did provide one of the most impressive drives in school history. With Carolina clinging to a 7-3 lead, Prentiss Waggner intercepted a Connor Shaw pass and seemed to be headed for the end zone. Offensive lineman Cody Gibson came up with a huge hustle play to take Waggner down from behind at the South Carolina 2-yard line. That would prove huge as D.J. Swearinger would pick off a Justin Worley pass three plays later.

From there, South Carolina went on a 20-play, 98-yard drive that ate up 11:42 off the clock. The Gamecock possession started with 12:22 left in the third quarter and ended with 47 seconds left in the quarter. Brandon Wilds carried the ball 11 times for 51 yards on the drive and Shaw ended it with a five yard run. That would effectively end the game for Tennessee, who struggled with just 186 yards of offense. Worley, a South Carolina native, was horrendous, finished with 105 yards on 10-of-26 passing and two interceptions.

Most memorable moment – This is another difficult one. There are not many schools that can be credited for getting multiple coaches fired, but many believe that the final nails in the coffins of Johnny Majors and Fulmer were driven in by the Gamecocks. In the 1992 Halloween classic, Tennessee decided to go for the two point conversion and win late in the fourth quarter. Hank Campbell would come up and make a sensational stop on the conversion to cement the win.

Though it wasn't a nail-biter, the 27-6 win in 2008 was the final nail in the coffin for Fulmer as Lane Kiffen was hired the following year.

The most memorable moment occurred in the 2005 game. The two teams would go back and forth with Carolina taking a 13-12 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Vols would go on a nine play drive that James Wilhoit capped off with a 43-yard field goal that gave Tennessee the lead with just 7:39 left in the game.

Blake Mitchell completed 5-of-6 passes on the ensuing drive for 55 yards, but his one incompletion came on a third down play when he missed Kris Clark. Brown lined up for a 49-yard field goal that barely sneaked over the crossbar to give Carolina a 16-15 lead.

Tennessee quarterback Rick Clausen would try and lead his team back, but three consecutive incompletions turned the ball over and Carolina was able to burn out the rest of the clock and all three Tennessee timeouts to win the game.

Key to the game – When Tennessee comes to Columbia in 2012, they will likely have starting quarterback Tyler Bray back, who was out most of last season with an injury. It was the 2010 match-up in Columbia when Bray burst onto the scene, replacing Matt Simms. Bray completed 9-of-15 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns with one pick. While Bray will be back, he will not have the weapons he had in 2010. If South Carolina can control the clock as they did last season, they should be able to beat an improved Tennessee team. Having Marcus Lattimore won't hurt either.

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