WHEN: 7:30 p.m., Saturday
SERIES: USC leads 16-7-1
LAST YEAR: The Wildcats took a 10-point halftime lead, but they couldn’t make it stand as the Gamecocks roared back with 31 straight points for a 38-17 victory at Commonwealth Stadium. Tailback Marcus Lattimore rushed for 120 yards and a pair of touchdowns while quarterback Connor Shaw, who passed for 148 yards and rushed for 76 more, threw scoring passes to Ace Sanders and Damiere Byrd. The victory was USC’s ninth straight at the time, a streak that dated back to 2011.
COACH: Mark Stoops. In his first season as coach, Stoops has led the Wildcats to a victory against Miami (Ohio). He made his mark over the past nine seasons as a defensive coordinator, six at Arizona and three at Florida State. His brothers are Bob Stoops, the Oklahoma head coach, Mike Stoops, the OU defensive coordinator, and Ron Stoops Jr., Youngstown State’s linebackers coach.
QUICK TAKE: The Wildcats are playing a very tough stretch. In the previous two weeks, they lost to No. 7 Louisville (27-13) and No. 18 Florida (24-7). Now they must play the No. 13 Gamecocks. And USC, UK plays host to top-ranked Alabama. This USC game will be the Wildcats’ first road test in a month.
KENTUCKY KERNALS: The Gamecocks have won 12 of the past 13 meetings dating back to 2000. Kentucky’s only touchdown against Florida came on a fake field goal, with kicker Joe Mansour scoring on a 25-yard run. It was the first rushing attempt of the senior’s career. Florida outgained Kentucky 402-173. USC has averaged 35 points per game against the Wildcats in their past eight meetings. UK’s last winning season (7-6) came in 2009 under coach Rich Brooks.
WILDCATS TO WATCH
WR JAVESS BLUE: The 6-0, 190-pound junior leads the team with 424 all-purpose yards: 213 receiving, 170 returning kickoffs, 21 returning punts and 20 rushing.
LB AVERY WILLIAMSON: The 6-1, 238-pound senior leads the team with 42 tackles, with one tackle for loss and one fumble recovery.
DE ALVIN DUPREE: The 6-4, 252-pound junior, a preseason third team All-SEC pick, he has 25 tackles, three for loss, two sacks and one forced fumble.
PK JOE MANSOUR: The 6-2, 189-pound senior has made all six field-goal attempts, with a long of 37, and is 9-of-10 on PATs.