As usual, visit the Open Thread during the game.
1. It's Vanderbilt. They never win. Never mind.
2. Chris Smelley. Truth be told, I feel better going into this game with Smelley under center than Beecher. Aside from what happened last week, Smelley has more experience and has actually started in the SEC -- something necessary for a conference road game, even one in Nashville. He goes up against a team that allowed 244 yards passing against a MAC team last week.
3. The defense. Yes, it was N.C. State. But we thought this unit would be tough coming into the season, and it was last week. There's no reason to think that it won't have a good deal of success against the Commodores.
4. Mike Davis. Even without starting, Davis piled up 101 yards and a score on the ground. It won't be easy; Vanderbilt allowed just 3.8 ypc last week against Miami (OH). But if the Gamecocks can get a lead, Davis can work on the clock.
5. Revenge. This one shouldn't need explanation.
1. Chris Nickson. The Vanderbilt QB won't carve anybody up through the air, but he can pick up big chunks on the ground. This might be the first legitimate test of the Gamecocks run defense -- which, you'll remember, was the big worry coming into the season.
|2008 - Chris Nickson||1||124.7||9||16||56.3||91||91.0||10.1||1||0||20||166||166.0||8.3||2||-||-|
2. D.J. Moore. A sack, an interception, a forced fumble -- all in the first game. There's a reason the Dores' top defensive back was a preseason pick for All-SEC. Moore had 6 INTs last year in an impressive campaign, and he looks like he's picked up where he left off this season. Smelley better have a better game through the air this week than Beecher had last week, or Moore will make him pay.
3. No invincibility. Nothing makes it harder for a team to win than being used to losing. The Commodores had gotten used to losing against South Carolina -- but now they know they can win. With college students, that means something.
4. Fast starts. Vanderbilt's game against Miami last week was essentially over at the half after the Dores ran up a 27-10 lead and coasted from there. South Carolina had to run up the score late to make the margin look impressive. If the Gamecocks drag again, they'll find themselves in a hole that might be too big to escape.
5. Third down. The Commodores were 8-of-15 last week on third down. They'll need to repeat that to wear down the Gamecocks' defense and keep the score low. A quick-strike shootout probably doesn't bode well for Vanderbilt.
PREDICTION: Scary, scary game, but the Gamecocks pull it out in the end. South Carolina 18, Vanderbilt 14