Allow me to quote an article I wrote previewing Kentucky earlier this summer:
A three-year losing streak to the Kentucky Wildcats in basketball is one thing, but football?
That’s a stink that doesn’t wash off with one shower.
That sentiment still holds true today as South Carolina is set to open Williams-Brice Stadium for the first time in 2017. Kentucky comes into South Carolina on a three game winning streak against the Gamecocks, each one more painful than the last.
Let’s quickly recap how each of those three games went:
2016: In a hideous offensive showing for both teams, South Carolina would blow a 7-3 halftime lead in Lexington when Benny Snell scored a touchdown with 10:21 left in the game. Brandon McIlwain would be sacked twice on the Gamecocks final drive to seal the loss.
2015: After falling behind 24-7 at halftime, South Carolina stormed back to make it 24-22 with 8:09 left in the game. But Pharoh Cooper would fumble the ball before crossing the goal line and Kentucky would scoop up the ball along with SC’s hopes and dreams to seal a 26-22 win for the Wildcats in Columbia to break a 22-game road losing streak.
2014: South Carolina held a seemingly safe 38-24 lead in Lexington, but a pair of JoJo Kemp touchdown runs tied the game with less than three minutes left in the game. Driving for the win, Dylan Thompson is picked off by Bud Dupree who scores the game winning touchdown. Gamecocks lose 45-38.
I guess who could rank these in whatever order of personal pain you’d like, but either way you go about it there’s no argument Kentucky has been a massive pain in the butt for South Carolina. For Gamecock fans, there’s hope that the painful streak to Kentucky may finally end tonight.
There’s two reasons for optimism if you’re a Gamecocks fan:
- South Carolina has looked very good through two games relative to expectations
- Kentucky has not looked very good relative to expectations
Through two games South Carolina has used timely defense in combination some big scoring plays from Deebo Samuel to squeak by NC State in week one and thoroughly beat Missouri last week. The scary thing about it is South Carolina’s offense really hasn’t played to their full potential yet.
The running game came along a little better last week but still hasn’t fully developed into the attack most thought it would in the preseason. Jake Bentley has looked good in spots but hasn’t done anything to actively win a game for South Carolina. If the Gamecocks can get significant improvements in both those departments, SC could really unlock something special in 2017.
Kentucky on the other hand may be 2-0 but it’s a 2-0 without to be desired. The Wildcats offense sputtered against Southern Miss (4.6 ypp, 3-13 on third downs) and needed three turnovers from the Golden Eagles to win on the road. Then last week the Wildcats trailed FCS Eastern Kentucky until late in the third quarter before scoring 17 unanswered points and pulling away to win.
Granted, the demons of the past will no doubt haunt South Carolina coming into tonight’s game. How much that will affect the Gamecocks is unknown, but one team is going home with a loss either way at the end of this contest.
How to watch South Carolina vs. Kentucky tonight
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Place: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.
TV: SEC Network
Announcers: Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers
A Sea of Blue (SBN Kentucky Blog)