This is the 16th meeting between the two schools. South Carolina has owned this series, winning 13 of the previous 15 contests. They played for the first time in 1961 with USC prevailing 23-7. Since 1992, these teams have met every season. After South Carolina won six consecutive games from 1992 through 1997, Vanderbilt finally won in Nashville in 1998 by a score of 17-14.
Vanderbilt Vs. USC
Saturday, 21-October-2006—2:00 PM CDT
Radio: WGFX 104.5 FM & Eight Affiliates + Sirius
TV: Pay per View in South Carolina, and
in parts of Tennessee
ESPN Gameplan for those who live outside the pay-for-view
Weather Forecast: Mostly Sunny with only a 10% chance of rain and
temperatures in the low 70's.
This is the 16th meeting between the two schools. South Carolina has owned this series, winning
13 of the previous 15 contests.
They played for the first time in 1961 with USC prevailing 23-7. Since 1992, these teams have met every
season. After South Carolina won six consecutive games from 1992 through
1997, Vanderbilt finally won in Nashville in 1998 by a score of 17-14. A year later, the Commodores won in
Columbia by a
score of 11-10. It must be noted
that the Gamecocks won only one game in 1998 and no games in
Since 2000, South
Carolina has dominated this series, winning six in a row
by an average score of 33-17.
Last year in Columbia, the Gamecocks won 35-28 thanks to the
heroics of quarterback Blake Mitchell and receiver Sidney Rice who caught eight
passes for 132 yards. This
combination hooked up for three touchdowns, including the game winner late in
the final period. A desperate
comeback attempt by Vanderbilt fell short when Jay Cutler threw incomplete on
4th and 10 at the Gamecock 30-yard line.
Cutler ended the game completing 27 of 49 passes for 339 yards and a
touchdown. The Commodores failed to
move the ball on the ground all afternoon, picking up just 41 yards on 34
carries. Earl Bennett emerged as a
true star in this game when he caught 16 passes for 204 yards including a
41-yarder for a score.
Vanderbilt 1-3 in the SEC, 3-4 Overall
South Carolina 2-2 in the SEC, 4-2
When Vanderbilt Runs The Ball
If Vanderbilt is going to win this game, they will have to control the
ball on the ground. Run defense is
not one of South
Carolina's strong suits. The Commodores will need an effort
similar to the one's they put forth against Arkansas and Ole Miss (without the
Georgia limited the
number of big plays by the Vandy ground game, but Carolina should be vulnerable. Cassen Jackson-Garrison and Jared
Hawkins should get the opportunity to hit the occasional hole with room to
run. Downfield blocking by Marlon
White and Steven Bright could be the key to having a breakaway that goes the
Chris Nickson needs to use his exceptional intellect and quick feet to
outsmart and outrun the Gamecock linebackers. He will have the opportunity to scramble
for 50-100 yards in this game if he picks his spots correctly. USC can be exploited by showing pass and
then running outside the guards if just one blocker walls off Gamecock middle
linebacker Jasper Brinkley.
Vanderbilt should run the ball 35 times for more than 150 yards in this
game. If they can finish with 38
carries for 180+ yards, it should be a happy afternoon for the homecoming
When Carolina Runs The
The Gamecocks run the ball a little more than they pass it this
year. Cory Boyd emerged as a
potential star against Kentucky two weeks ago when he rushed for 113
yards on 25 carries. In that game
Boyd and quarterback Syvelle Newton were the only players to carry the
Carolina is similar
to Vanderbilt in that their quarterback is just as big a threat to take off and
run as our quarterback is.
runs more like a split end in the open field than a quarterback trying to avoid
pulverization. Newton averages well over
six yards per carry when you factor out sacks and quarterback kneel downs.
The one positive for Vanderbilt's run defense is they see this same
offense, or something quite similar, in practice every day; the scout team
should have given the defense a good sampling this week of what South Carolina will do
Saturday. Of course, that works
both ways, as Carolina's defense will benefit as well. Look for Carolina to run the ball about 32 times for 130
yards. If they get to 150 rushing
yards in this game, it will probably be curtains for the Gold
When Vanderbilt Throws The Ball
The black and gold need to run to set up the pass this week. South Carolina's secondary is tough; they hold
opponents to almost 15% lower pass completion percentage than an average
secondary. That equates to about
four fewer pass completions per game and 50 less yards
Vanderbilt needs to pick their spots and try to stretch the field
vertically to open up more running lanes.
Nickson needs to go deep (20+ yard patterns) toward Earl Bennett, Sean
Walker, and Marlon White at least three times and hopefully five times in this
game. One 50-yard pass completion
in the first half could open the floodgates for the running game to close the
deal. The short passing game may
not get it done this week, and without some intermediate passes, the Gamecocks
could shut down the ground game as well.
Look for Vanderbilt to pass the ball 25 times and complete 12. If that produces 175+ yards (7+ yards
per attempt), then Vandy will win this game because they will average close to
five yards per running play because of it.
If the stats look more like 14 of 25 for 135 yards, then the running game
will be shut down because the secondary will be able to easily contain and back
up the front seven.
When Carolina Throws The
improving every week. With
Spurrier's tutelage, that is to be expected. Vanderbilt's pass defense was exploited
last week by Matthew Stafford. You
better believe that Spurrier has figured out what to do to rip the Commodore
secondary to shreds. The one fly in
his ointment should be a competent Vandy pass rush that disrupts Newton's rhythm to some
extent. The key to beating a
Spurrier offense is to get to the quarterback, especially on five receiver
Stopping both Rice and Kenny McKinley is something the black and gold
secondary probably cannot do, so the key to winning this battle is to defeat
Carolina's mediocre offensive line. Vandy needs to dump Newton for a five yard
loss at least twice and force him to hurry one quarter of his pass
attempts. If Newton gets enough time,
he can pick the Commodores apart.
If Carolina's passing stats look like 15 of 28 for
160 yards, Vanderbilt can win the game.
If, on the other hand, Newton goes 18 of 28 for 225 yards, then the
Vandy coeds are going to be in tears around 5 PM
Special Teams Play
Carolina has an
exceptional all-purpose kicker in Ryan Succop. He punts the ball high and consistently
well, meaning opponents have little chance of hurting the Gamecocks with punt
returns. In an exchange of punts,
USC will be 5-10 yards better off than they were prior to the
Succop is deadly accurate as a place kicker and his kickoffs frequently
make it to the end zone.
The Gamecock return game is nothing to get excited about; as long as they
don't fumble the ball, that will be adequate for
Vanderbilt continues to be the absolute best kickoff coverage team in the
conference and one of the best in the nation. More than likely, the Gamecocks will
receive the opening kickoff (Spurrier wants to receive when his team wins the
coin toss, while Vandy usually defers when they win it). This opening kickoff needs to be a
statement. Bryant Hahnfeldt needs
to kick the ball high to the USC two yard line, and then assassin Chris Johnson
and his band of co-conspirators need to close the deal with a gang tackle around
Hahnfeldt came through with the big field goal last week. He should be more than ready to repeat
the feat with his feet if called on to do it again. There's a better than average chance he
could get that opportunity.
Vanderbuilder's Guess: South
42 Computer Rankings: Gamecocks by 2 points. 33 of 42
computers pick South
Carolina to win the game. The range is quite narrow for this
contest. Most of the computers
believe the Gamecocks will win by three or fewer points. Normal standard deviation for these 42
computer rankings is about 5 to 6, but the small standard deviation of the
statistical sample is just 2.75.
This lends credence to the belief that this will be a rather close ball
Summary: Can the Commodores continue to play near
their peak every game without a bye week, with injuries piling up, and with
tough SEC games back-to-back-to-back?
You have to figure they are due for an off game, especially after playing
so well last week. Even Ohio State will fail to bring their A-game
every week. It' only natural, even
if the players are all giving their maximum effort.
Carolina had a week
off prior to this game, and Steve Spurrier has had two weeks to prepare for the
contest. That's just a little too
much to overcome. The Gamecocks are
not any better than the Commodores right now, but they have the most important
advantage in this game—rest. Look
Carolina to win by a touchdown or less in a hard-fought
game. The deciding score could come
late in the game, as Vandy begins to show signs of fatigue for the first time
this season. Of course, it would be
just fine and dandy if South
Carolina committed some early turnovers that led to
cheap scores for the Commodores and an easy win to get to 4-4 and become a
bubble bowl team.
Here's what to keep your eyes on this week: every time USC and Vandy have
a 3rd down and more than five yards to go, it will be one of the
deciding plays of the game. Keep a
running count of which team succeeds in getting first downs on the
3rd down and six to 10 yards to go. The winner of this battle should be the
team that prevails. If this
statistic is one-sided early in the game, yet the score is close, you might know
eventually where the final score is headed.