Around this time last week South Carolina fans were riding as high as they’ve been in probably three years. But a 23-13 loss to Kentucky dropped those feelings right out of a sky like an unsuspecting mallard during duck season.
Now scarred and hurt once again, fans will come back to Williams Brice to see their Gamecocks pitted against Louisiana Tech — a team they haven’t played since 1995.
Normally a game against a G-5 team is the perfect palate cleanser after a stinky loss like the one South Carolina took last week. But this is not your normal G-5 team. Louisiana Tech has been one of the more formidable mid-majors over the last three seasons — winning nine games in each year and winning Conference USA’s West Division in 2014 and 2016.
Granted, in those three years the Bulldogs are 1-6 against power-five teams but they have been able to ramp up some pacemakers in those losses. Take a gander at some of the close calls LA Tech have caused some bigger teams.
2014: W Illinois 35-18 (Heart of Dallas Bowl)
2015: L Kansas State 33-39 (Triple overtime)
2016: L Arkansas 20-21
2016: L Texas Tech 45-59
So it’s not as of Louisiana Tech doesn’t have the capability of making fans of power five teams sweat a little bit. But that’s not what South Carolina fans need right now.
Gamecock fans need a big win — a decisive win. That’s not guaranteed since South Carolina will be without two of the best players on offense: Deebo Samuel is out for the foreseeable future with a fractured ankle and Zack Bailey is out for what is likely just this week with a sprained ankle.
So down their most explosive offensive weapon and most versatile offensive lineman, South Carolina has a lot of questions to answer as to what they’ll look like without them. Even with those two in the lineup, South Carolina’s offense has been below average at best.
Despite favorable field position in all three of their games, South Carolina has needed big special teams plays and turnovers to aid them in scoring points. Jake Bentley has been underwhelming after garnering a considerable amount of preseason hype and the run game has been virtually non-existent outside the second half of the Missouri game.
However LA Tech’s defense might be the common cure for this disease. Tech’s been flat out terrible against the run and have not been able to pin opponents back in long down-and-distances — both of which have been South Carolina’s main faults on offense this season.
But the match up that really favors South Carolina is on defense. The Gamecocks have been playing defense at a top-40 level through three games and play a style of bend-don’t-break defense that limits explosive plays. LA Tech has not been able to generate big plays, which plays right into what Will Muschamp likes to do on defense.
And if this makes up any kind of consolation, South Carolina has never lost to LA Tech in their five match ups — all which have come after 1990.
How to watch South Carolina vs. Louisiana Tech this afternoon
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Place: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.
TV: SEC Network
Announcers: Dave Neal, Matt Stinchcomb
Underdog Dynasty (SBN Conference USA, Sun Belt, AAC and Independents Blog)