South Carolina leads the all-time series with Kentucky 17-12. But none of those wins have come since 2013 and memories of victories under Lou Holtz (2000-04) and Steve Spurrier (2005-09, 2011-13) seem distant now. For many Gamecock fans, it’s not just that South Carolina has dropped five straight to the Wildcats, it’s the manner in which it’s happened. Kentucky has consistently won at the point of attack, controlling the line of scrimmage with their potent rushing attack and stifling the Gamecocks’ offense. Mark Stoops’ defense has limited South Carolina to 33 total points in the last three meetings and overseen a rushing advantage of 198-91 yards per game.
Winning in the trenches has been a staple of Stoops’ tenure in Lexington and the topmost reason for his 5-1 record against the Gamecocks. All of this is not lost on linebacker Ernest Jones, “Coach told us the previous three times we’ve played them they’ve run the ball 40 plus times. We have to stop the run. When a team wants to run the ball on you, it’s like a slap in the face for defenders, especially the front seven.”
Jones’ numbers are accurate. Kentucky ran the ball 50 times in 2016, 47 times in 2017 and 46 times against South Carolina last season. But this time, the Wildcats won’t be able to lean on Benny Snell, Jr., who carried the ball 60 times in the last two games, including 32 carries (many from the Wildcat formation) at Williams-Brice in 2017.
Kickoff is set for 7:39 p.m., Saturday. The Gamecocks are a 3-point favorite.