For whatever reason Steve Spurrier never wants to defer when he wins the coin toss. Despite the fact his offense has struggled and he’s breaking in a new quarterback, the Head Ball Coach decided to receive to start the game. It backfired before his offense even took the field. Bruce Ellington fumbled the opening kickoff and the Wildcats recovered on the USC 26 yard line.
Kentucky picked up one first down on its opening drive, but the Cats didn’t fully capitalize on the great field position. The Gamecock defense made a stop on the next series, forcing UK to settle for a 28 yard field goal to go up 3-0 with 11:58 to play. It is the sixth straight game USC allowed the opposing team to score first.
Connor Shaw didn’t waste any time leading USC back ahead though. Shaw completed four of six passes on an 80 yard scoring drive that ended on a 20 yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery. Shaw picked up two third and long conversions on the drive. One was a third and 10, the other a third and seven. The drive went 80 yards in seven plays and took 2:42 off the clock. USC went ahead 7-3 with 9:16 left in the quarter.
The USC defense forced Kentucky to punt after three plays on the Wildcats next possession. After a 36 yard punt USC took over on its own 47.
USC didn’t take advantage of that good field position. An offensive pass interference call and an illegal procedure sabotaged progress and they ended up punting on 4th and 11 from their own 46.
After a punt, the Wildcats took over on their own 24. The Wildcats picked up one first down before throwing an interception three plays later on a third and three. The Cats tried to run a half back pass and appeared to have a receiver slip behind the Gamecock defenders, but the ball hung up long enough for Stephon Gilmore to intercept inside the Carolina ten yard line.
USC moved the ball to the 28 yard line before they were forced to punt on 4th and 10. Kentucky took over on its own 35. The Wildcats gave it right back to the Gamecocks on a first down interception by Morgan Newton. Victor Hampton made the play for USC.
The quarter ended with USC failing to convert a third and eight from their own 47.
USC 7, KENTUCKY 3