USC moves up in polls; Bama game time set

Whitlock fills in nicely for defense

jperson@thestate.comOctober 11, 2009 

South Carolina sophomore cornerback no. 12 C.C. Whitlock breaks up a pass intended for Kentucky's Chris Matthews in the third quarter during the Gamecocks game against Kentucky at Williams-Brice Stadium, Saturday 10, 2009.

GERRY MELENDEZ/GMELENDEZ@THESTATE.COM — The State Media Company

  • Gamecocks vs. Tide

    WHO: USC (5-1, 2-1 SEC) at Alabama (6-0, 3-0)

    WHEN: 7:45 p.m. Saturday

    WHERE: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

    LINE: Alabama by 18

    TV: ESPN (TWC 26/DTV 206/Dish 140)

    RADIO: WNKT-FM 107.5

    ONLINE: Seth Emerson will blog live from the game. Get updates at gogamecocks.com.

The Gamecocks, now ranked No. 22 in both major polls, will face the Crimson Tide at 7:45 p.m. this Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

ESPN will televise the contest (which begins at 6:45 p.m. central time).

USC (5-1, 2-1 SEC) is No. 22 in the latest Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches' polls. Alabama (6-0, 3-0) leapfrogged Texas in the AP poll and is now No. 2; the team is third in the Coaches Poll.

The Crimson Tide lead the all-time series, 11-2, but the Gamecocks have won two of the last three meetings.

Game ball for Whitlock? USC coach Steve Spurrier plans to review the video to see whether cornerback C.C. Whitlock is worthy of a game ball for his performance in Saturday's 28-26 victory against Kentucky.

Spurrier might want to do so with the volume turned down.

Whitlock made a loud statement Saturday with six tackles while filling in again for the suspended Akeem Auguste. Just as lively was the chatter between Whitlock and Wildcats receiver Gene McCaskill, Whitlock's teammate at Chester High, between plays.

"You know there was going to be a lot of trash-talking. There was a lot going back and forth," Whitlock said. "It was a great experience to be able to go out there and make a couple plays with one of the best corners being down."

Whitlock's biggest play might have been when Kentucky tried a fake field goal late in the third quarter with holder Randall Cobb. Whitlock and Darian Stewart were not fooled and forced Cobb out of bounds 9 yards short of a first down.

"I kind of had that in my head. I was just saying, 'Watch the fake,' because we were beating up on them so much," Whitlock said.

As for the game ball?

"He made a lot of tackles, didn't he? A lot of our guys were saying he was deserving of a game ball," Spurrier said. "It was nice to see Whitlock (play well). He may get a game ball."

Crowd control. The announced crowd of 68,278 was the smallest at Williams-Brice Stadium since 67,930 turned out for a 41-28 loss to Arkansas in 1998 during the Gamecocks' 1-10 season in Brad Scott's final year.

There were dozens of empty rows in the upper east stands and the student section had plenty of seats available.

USC president Harris Pastides said scheduling fall break during a home football weekend was a mistake and vowed it would not happen again.

"I think probably athletics and academics weren't as coordinated as we needed to be. We just need to take that one on us and not let it happen again," Pastides said. "Let me just say for the record, academics always comes first in the interests of the students. But I don't expect the fans will have this issue next year."

An athletics department official said 5,500 students requested tickets - about half of the usual student orders for home games.

Streak ends. Stephen Garcia's interception-free streak ended at 124 passes when he was picked off by Kentucky linebacker Sam Maxwell in the second quarter. It was Garcia's first interception since the second quarter against Georgia on Sept. 12. He said he threw into double coverage on the play.

Taking on Tech. USC will play Georgia Tech in a home-and-home series in 2020 and '21, associate athletics director Charles Waddell said Saturday. Waddell said USC would have played the Yellow Jackets sooner, but Tech prefers to schedule SEC opponents every four years because of its annual rivalry with Georgia.

The Gamecocks are 9-12 all-time against Tech. The schools have not met since 1991, a year after the Jackets split the national championship with Colorado.

Waddell said he also has talked to Virginia about playing a future home-and-home series, although nothing is imminent.

Extra points. Counting victories last year against Tennessee and Arkansas, USC has won six consecutive home games - its best home stretch since a 13-game winning streak spanning the 1986-88 seasons. ... The Gamecocks failed to record a sack for the second consecutive week. ... USC improved to 5-7 as a top-25 team under Spurrier and moved over .500 all-time. The Gamecocks are 532-531-44 in 116 seasons.

Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.

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