HEAD TO HEAD: VANDERBILT VS. SOUTH CAROLINA

Vanderbilt meets South Carolina on Saturday night in Nashville. VandyMania.com's Don Yates compares the two teams in several critical areas. He also makes a prediction on the game's final score.

VANDERBILT PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
SOUTH CAROLINA PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: SOUTH CAROLINA
REMARKS: Vanderbilt as a team averages 145 yards per game passing, good for No. 115 nationally and 13th in the SEC. Patton Robinette was Vanderbilt's starting quarterback at the beginning of the season. However, he was benched early in the opening game after a sluggish start. Robinette returned to action on Saturday against UMass. Robinette completed 15-of-21 passes for 147 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions in leading Vandy to its first victory. Tight end Steven Scheu is Vandy's leading receiver with nine catches. C.J. Duncan, who had an amazing catch in the win over UMass, has six catches along with sophomore Latevius Rayford.

South Carolina is 122nd nationally and last in the SEC in passing yards allowed (341 YPG).

VANDERBILT RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
SOUTH CAROLINA RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: The Commodores ranked 108th nationally and last in the SEC in rushing offense. Vanderbilt averages 107 yards per game on the ground. Ralph Webb is a quick, explosive running back who has gained 281 yards on 58 carries for a 4.8 yard per carry average. Dallas Rivers and Jerron Seymour are Webb's backups. Seymour was the regular starter last year, and 716 yards and scoring 14 touchdowns but was unable to play in the first two games, thus opening the door for Webb to shine.

South Carolina is 81st nationally and last in the SEC in rushing defense giving up an average of 173 yards per game. Linebacker Skai Moore is the top tackler for the Gamecocks with 23 stops. Safety T.J. Gurley is second with 18 tackles.

SOUTH CAROLINA PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
VANDERBILT PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: SOUTH CAROLINA
REMARKS: The Gamecocks rank 32nd nationally (5th SEC) in passing offense (301 YPG). Quarterback Dylan Thompson leads the USC passing attack. So far this season he's completed 66-of-108 passes for eight touchdowns and three interceptions. In his most recent outing against Georgia, Thompson connected on 21-of-30 passes for 271 yards, one interception and three touchdowns. Nick Jones (14 rec.), Shaq Roland (12 rec.), and Pharoh Cooper (11 rec.) are Thompson's top targets. Jones and Cooper each have a pair of TD catches. South Carolina's blockers have allowed four sacks so far this season.

Vandy is 99th nationally (12th SEC) in passing defense allowing 277 yards per game. Vanderbilt has allowed an average of 277 yards a game through the air for a total of five touchdowns. Last week in the win over UMass linebacker Caleb Azubike had two sacks and Jonathan Wynn had another for the Commodores. Azubike has four on the season to lead to 'Dores. The Commodores still haven't intercepted a pass this season. However, Oren Burks has four pass breakups.

SOUTH CAROLINA RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
VANDERBILT RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: VANDERBILT
REMARKS: South Carolina ranks 12th in the SEC and 87th nationally in rushing offense (139 YPG). Brandon Wilds (62.3 YPG) and Mike Davis (60.7 YPG) are the top ground gainers for the Gamecocks. In the win over the Bulldogs Wilds gained 91 yards on 14 carries and had a TD. Davis gained 66 yards on 17 carries but injured an ankle and his status for Vanderbilt is uncertain.

Vandy ranks 58th in the nation (10th SEC) in rushing defense. Last week Vandy allowed UMass just 88 total yards rushing for the game. On the season Vandy is allowing an average of 137 yards a game (3.4 YPC). Inside linebacker Nigel Bowden is the top Commodore run stopper, with 19 total tackles including eight solos. Outside linebacker Stephen Weatherly, also has 19 stops, including 1 1/2 for losses.

SPECIAL TEAMS
EDGE: SOUTH CAROLINA
REMARKS: Tyler Hull averages 44 yards a punt for the Gamecocks. He has a long of 53 yards and has placed two inside the 20. Elliott Fry has connected on 5-of-6 field goals with a long of 42 yards. Pharoh Cooper averages 2.5 yards per punt return with a long of five yards. Shon Carson has a 22-yard per kickoff return average. His longest return was for 42 yards. USC's return coverage teams have been solid.

Colby Cooke continues to do well at punting for Vandy. Last week he had six go for an average of 42.3 yards with a long of 51. He averages 43.8 yards for the season with seven spotted inside the 20. Against UMass Vandy gave up a fake punt that went for a TD and allowed a 74-yard kickoff return that resulted in a UMass field goal. On the bright side, Vandy blocked a punt for a touchdown against the Minutemen. Tommy Openshaw connected on his collegiate debut in the fourth quarter of the Ole Miss game, kicking a 26-yard field goal. He did not attempt a field goal against UMass. Darrius Sims averages 5.2 yards per punt return and 21.1 yards per kickoff return for the Commodores.

COACHING
EDGE: SOUTH CAROLINA
REMARKS: Vanderbilt's Derek Mason is in his first season as a head coach and has led the 'Dores to an 1-2 record. He won his first college game against UMass on Saturday. In 2012 Mason was a finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top assistant coach, after directing a defense that ranks among the best in the nation and finest in Stanford history. Mason has some NFL coaching experience serving stints with the Vikings, Raiders, Giants and Rams.

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is one of most successful head coaches in college football. Spurrier, in his 25th year as a head coach, has accumulated a 220-80-2 record at Duke, Florida and South Carolina. Spurrier is the most successful head coach (78-40) in Gamecock history, leading USC to consecutive double digit win seasons for the first time ever. Spurrier has coached Florida to a national championship, won seven SEC titles, garnered nine conference Coach of the Year awards.

INTANGIBLES
EDGE: SOUTH CAROLINA
REMARKS: South Carolina could be ripe for a letdown after an exhilarating win over a favored Georgia team on Saturday. Vanderbilt will be brimming with confidence and optimism after rallying past UMass. Vandy ranks 119th nationally in turnover margin (-1.67), 121st in redzone offense and 77th in redzone defense. USC ranks 98 in turnover margin (-0.67), first (tied with Auburn) in redzone offense, and 95th in redzone defense.

PREDICTION: South Carolina 28, Vanderbilt 10.

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