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September 29, 2012

Undefeated Gamecocks visit Commonwealth Stadium

KENTUCKY (1-3, 0-1 SEC)
Coach: Joker Phillips
Record: 12-17 (4-13 SEC) in three seasons at UK, overall
Last game: Florida 38, Kentucky 0
Next game: Mississippi State, Oct. 6
Roster | Depth chart
Coach: Steve Spurrier
Record: 59-35 (31-27 SEC) in eight seasons at South Carolina; 201-75-2 overall
Last game: SC 31, Missouri 10
Next game: Georgia, Oct. 6
Roster | Depth chart
Game/Series Information
Game Information
Site: Commonwealth Stadium (67,942)
TV: ESPN2 (Mike Patrick play-by-play, Ed Cunningham analyst, Jeanine Edwards sideline)
Radio: UK IMG Sports Network (Tom Leach play-by-play, Jeff Piecoro analysis; Dick Gabriel sideline); Sirius channel 92; XM channel 198
Internet: Audio | Video
Favorite: South Carolina by 21

Series Information:
Series record: South Carolina leads 15-7-1
At Lexington: South Carolina leads 8-4
Coaches' records:Phillips 1-1 vs. South Carolina; Spurrier 18-1 vs. UK

Last meeting
South Carolina 54, Kentucky 3 (Oct. 8, 2011, in Columbia, S.C.)
A year removed from an upset loss at Kentucky, South Carolina came suffocated the Wildcats early and poured on the offense late in a rout. Connor Shaw threw for 311 yards and four touchdowns and Marcus Lattimore rushed for 102 yards as the Gamecocks caught fire late, outscoring UK 34-0 in the second half.

Keys to the Game
1. Shoulder the load: Both starting quarterbacks have suffered shoulder injuries this season. Maxwell Smith didn't play last week at Florida as he recovered from an AC sprain, while Connor Shaw completed his last 20 passes in a romp over Missouri. But while Kentucky will turn to true freshman Jalen Whitlow if Smith is injured, South Carolina can play sophomore Dylan Thompson, who's been impressive when Shaw was out.

2. Future gains: Kentucky's best hope might be to pray that South Carolina is more concerned about the coming weeks than a date with an SEC cellar dweller. The Gamecocks face Georgia next week in a game that could decide the SEC East, followed by road trips to LSU and Florida. That's a brutal three-game stretch. If the Gamecocks are looking ahead, Kentucky just might be able to jump out early and hold on for dear life in the second half.

3.Tall order: South Carolina defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor can destroy a passing game with pressure on the quarterback, but they can also wreck offensive rhythm by knocking down passes at the line of scrimmage. Clowney is 6-foot-6 and Taylor is 6-foot-8. Missouri tried to release the ball quickly to avoid deflections, but was only marginally successful. Without a quarterback who can move outside of the pocket, Kentucky could struggle even more.

Staff Predictions
Ben Jones, Staff Writer: South Carolina 56, Kentucky 13
This has the potential to be the ugliest game all season for the Wildcats. It probably won't be as bad as last year, but South Carolina has star power on both sides of the ball that Kentucky can't match. Going into the fourth quarter in striking distance would be huge for the Wildcats, but even that is unlikely to happen. There's no reason to think this will be close, or that South Carolina will let up when things get out of hand.

T.J. Walker, Staff Writer: South Carolina 49, Kentucky 14
This one will get ugly. Not just on the scoreboard, but in and around Commonwealth Stadium. The Wildcats are hurting. Injuries are starting to take their toll, freshman are being forced to play bigger roles and all this is happening as UK hits the meat of its SEC schedule. Steve Spurrier loves humiliating UK and expect him to kick the Cats while they're down on Saturday.

Aaron Smith, Staff Writer: South Carolina 38, Kentucky 13 Steve Spurrier said earlier this week that South Carolina is better than Kentucky and should beat them. He's right, and they will. Maxwell Smith will have to counter both potential shoulder problems and definite defensive pressure if he plays, leading to a subpar offensive game, and South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore will run wild over UK's defense. This one will get out of hand early.

Brett Dawson, Publisher: South Carolina 42, Kentucky 17
After flatlining at Florida, Kentucky needs something - anything - to go its way this week. The best-case scenario? South Carolina treats this game between a huge win against Missouri and next week's date with Georgia as a bye week. The Gamecocks come out flat, Kentucky jumps ahead early and hangs on for the upset. Here in the real world, though, South Carolina's likely to torch the Kentucky defense with superior speed and give Maxwell Smith this season's toughest test yet.

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