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South Carolina at No. 13 Kentucky: Roundtable predictions

Sizing up a tough one on the road.

NCAA Football: South Carolina State at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

The South Carolina Gamecocks resume conference play tonight when they take a tough trip to Lexington to visit the 13th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats. The Wildcats, who have had the Gamecocks’ number in recent outings and have always been a difficult road contest for South Carolina, may be without star quarterback Will Levis, which could represent a major opportunity for USC to steal one in what has been a frustrating series of late. Here’s how the GABA gang sees things.

Kody: There’s no question that Levis’ up-in-the-air status is a big deal, as he’s been labeled a first-round talent and the possible No. 1 overall pick by some, but the Gamecocks kept him in check last season and still suffered a 16-10 loss, so it’s hard to say what effect this could have. It certainly won’t be a bad thing for South Carolina if he doesn’t suit up, but the Gamecocks have enough deficiencies to handle on their end that I’m not confident a lack of Levis alone can turn the tide. We still need to see more consistency from the South Carolina offense, and while the defense has largely been holding serve, it has a worrying tendency to yield on third downs, no matter the distance. Throw in the fact that Lexington has traditionally been a house of horrors for South Carolina and it’s hard to feel too good about this one, even with a few more days of rest after last week’s Thursday game. I’m going to go with UK in this one, 21-10. I just need more evidence that the Gamecocks can reliably move the ball against an SEC defense.

Brent: I wrote on this website after the loss to Georgia that South Carolina would be 3-2 going into the Kentucky game and that is when the season would start. Well, the Gamecocks are 3-2 and this is where 2022 will be determined as a success or a failure. Rumors are swirling out of Lexington surrounding the status of Kentucky quarterback Will Levis. It is hard for me to trust anything surrounding a guy that puts mayo in his coffee so who knows whether he will play or not. Levis isn’t the only Wildcat in question as they have multiple starters that are in question for the game. Meanwhile, Carolina is as healthy as they have been since the Arkansas game and have had two “get right” games that they have easily handled. Many factors have lined up over the last few days for South Carolina to get a huge win on Saturday night. The questions surrounding this football team still loom, however. Can the offensive line hold up against an SEC defense? Can Marcus Satterfield put together a full game as an OC in the SEC? Can Carolina start fast or just simply stay in the game in the first quarter? Can they win just their third SEC road game since October of 2018? Can they stop Kentucky’s ground attack? If recent history is any indicator the answer to all of those questions is no. Plus, if Levis doesn’t play, we have seen the unknown backup quarterback card plenty of times. I am hopeful for a win for the Gamecocks, but I have to see it on the road before I can believe it. I am taking the Wildcats to win this one 24-16.

Matt: I feel like I’ve seen this film before. The fans have confidence in the team after recent good showings, morale is high and it is just about that time where the Gamecocks lay an egg. What happened after last year’s impressive victory against Florida? USC lost a very winnable game to Missouri. The Cocks then follow that up with a rather unexpected dub at home against Auburn. Fans start believing it will be the year South Carolina finally beats Clemson for the first time in what feels like forever. They then get humbled by the Tigers by the score of 30-0. I’m hoping after two feel-good victories this *does not* happen. Being on the road, a place that has not fared well for the Cocks recently, does not help either. ESPECIALLY at Kentucky. As the others noted, too, how will the offensive line hold up against an SEC defense? This will be a big test for the Gamecocks, and I think that even with Levis out, they will fail it. I will continue to be in “wait and see” mode until they finally give me a good showing against a good team. Give me the Cats 35-13.

Katie: I’m back to being the lone voice of optimism here, since you already know I’m predicting an upset win. That being said, I’m not suggesting that’s the most realistic outcome, especially because Kentucky has annoyingly had South Carolina’s number for years now and the Gamecocks have really been givers when a backup QB has to make a start, which is a possibility in this one. To have a shot at pulling off a victory on Saturday, the offense is really going to need to finally figure out how to not start slow and the defense will have to keep Kentucky in check regardless of who’s playing QB. Getting a win might be a tall order, but I gotta go with my heart, and it says ANY GIVEN SATURDAY.