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Looking Back: Kentucky

Reviewing notable matchups against the Wildcats.

South Carolina Gamecocks v Kentucky Wildcats

The 3-2 South Carolina Gamecocks will travel to Lexington on Saturday night to face the 13th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats following two decisive wins in non-conference play against Charlotte and South Carolina State. Before kickoff, we will take a look back at the series against the Kentucky Wildcats and some of the more memorable moments in the series. Overall, the Gamecocks are 18-14-1 against the Wildcats.

Pre-SEC Matchups: The Gamecocks and Wildcats squared off only three times in their history prior to the Gamecocks joining the SEC. The Gamecocks sported a record of 1-1-1 against the Wildcats prior to 1992 before they would become permanent SEC East opponents.

1994: Brad Scott took the Gamecocks to Lexington in his first road game as head coach of the Gamecocks. South Carolina held a 16-9 lead with just under 4 minutes remaining when Steve Taneyhill hit Monty Means deep down the left sideline for a 52-yard touchdown to put the game away and give South Carolina their first win over the Wildcats as a member of the SEC. Final Score: South Carolina 23 Kentucky 9

1995: South Carolina fans that remember this game remember if for one name: Moe Williams. The Kentucky running back ran wild on a rainy day in Columbia to the tune of 429 total yards on a historically bad South Carolina defense. Williams rushed for 299 yards, had 59 yards receiving, and added another 73 yards on kick returns. Williams found the Carolina endzone 4 times that day as the Wildcats got their second straight win in Columbia. Final Score: Kentucky 35 South Carolina 30.

1997: Both teams entered the 1997 matchup coming off of games against teams from the state of Alabama. South Carolina had just lost in Columbia to eventual SEC West champion Auburn 23-6 the week before while Kentucky pulled off a 40-34 historic upset over Alabama in overtime at home. Kentucky head coach Hal Mumme and offensive coordinator Mike Leach brought their air raid offense into Columbia and immediately jumped out to a 14-0 lead over the Gamecocks. Carolina, led by quarterback Anthony Wright, would outscore the Wildcats 38-10 in the final three quarters. Brad Scott would only win 3 more games as head coach of the Gamecocks over the next 16 contests and would be fired at the end of the 1998 campaign. Final score: South Carolina 38 Kentucky 24

2004: This was simply one of the worst college football games I have ever watched in my life. Commonwealth Stadium was 50% full at best, and watching this game on pay-per-view it looked miserably cold in Lexington that night. South Carolina was without starting quarterback Dondrial Pinkins and Syvelle Newton was lost to an ankle injury during the game. Redshirt freshman Blake Mitchell would play but was ineffective. Trailing 7-6 late in the 4th quarter, Lou Holtz called on 4th string quarterback Mike Rathe. Rathe led the Gamecocks down the field, converting a 4th down pass to Noah Whiteside, and then found Troy Williamson in the back of the endzone on 3rd and 7 with 1:28 remaining to give the Gamecocks the win. Final Score: South Carolina 12 Kentucky 7.

2007: #11 South Carolina faced #8 Kentucky on a Thursday night in Columbia in 2007 in what turned out to be a very memorable night for the Gamecocks. Eric Norwood returned two fumbles for a touchdown as Heisman candidate Andre Woodson and undefeated Kentucky left Columbia with their first loss of the season. Final Score: South Carolina 38 Kentucky 23

Kentucky v South Carolina Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

2010: Fresh off of the monumental upset of #1 Alabama, 9th ranked South Carolina traveled to Lexington to face 3-3 Kentucky. The Gamecocks carried a 10 game winning streak into that game against the Wildcats and at halftime it appeared the Gamecocks were well on their way to an 11th straight win with a 28-10 lead at intermission. True freshman running back Marcus Lattimore suffered an ankle injury in the 3rd quarter and the Gamecocks never seemed to recover. Kentucky outscored the Gamecocks 21-0 in the second half which included a 4th down pass late in the 4th quarter to Randall Cobb to pull off the upset over eventual SEC East champion South Carolina. Final Score: Kentucky 31 South Carolina 28

2017: The final blackout. Williams Brice was as electric as I have ever seen it that night and was even more electrified when Deebo Samuel scored on a 68 yard touchdown on the first play of the game. The rest of the game was an absolute dud. Kentucky shut the Gamecock offense down all night and Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran kept the Gamecock defense off balance the entire game. Final Score: Kentucky 23 South Carolina 13

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 16 Kentucky at South Carolina Photo by Jim Dedmon/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

2020: Why would anyone care about this game? It was at the end of a miserable Covid season and the Gamecocks were playing with a skeleton crew while already coming in 2-7 on the year. Carolina lost 41-18, but during the game a very important phone call was made to Norman, Oklahoma. That night Shane Beamer was offered and accepted the head coaching position of the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Some historical thoughts on this series:

  • South Carolina has only played one day game in Lexington in the 17 games they have played there since 1981 and that was a 24-17 win in 2008. Every other game has been a night game.
  • Commonwealth Stadium/Kroger Field has been a very difficult place to play for the Gamecocks. They have not won there since 2012, and even that was a struggle. Carolina is 8-7 in Lexington since joining the SEC.
  • Carolina’s offense has been a disaster against the Wildcats since 2015. Carolina has averaged 15.2 points per game against the Wildcats since Steve Spurrier’s final year in Columbia. They are 1-6 in that span.
  • It is traditionally a colder atmosphere in Lexington for this matchup. WLTX’s Daniel Bonds tweeted that South Carolina is 9-16 when the temperature is below 50 degrees. It will be in the 40s on Saturday night. The Gamecocks will have to play warmer than the weather.