Injury report, five game storylines, five questions with Stephon Gilmore and more.
USC - OL Terrence Campbell (neck), WR Dion LeCorn and DE Byron McKnight (concussion) are out.
Alabama - LB Dont'a Hightower (knee) and S Rod Woodson (leg) are out.
Darth Visor vs. St. Nick
USC's Steve Spurrier and Alabama's Nick Saban rank third and fourth in winning percentage among active coaches with at least 10 years of Division I experience. While at Florida, Spurrier was 2-0 against Saban's LSU teams. A win tonight would be Spurrier's 105th conference victory as an SEC coach, tying him with Vince Dooley for third.
Another top-5 opportunity
USC notched the biggest home win in school history with its 16-10 victory against No. 4 Mississippi on Sept. 24. The Gamecocks have never beaten an opponent ranked as high as No. 2. USC knocked off Alabama 20-3 in 2004 during its last trip to Alabama - the Gamecocks' first win in eight games in Tuscaloosa.
Let's get physical
Alabama likes to pound the ball with 5-10, 212-pound tailback Mark Ingram, the SEC's fourth-leading rusher with 109.8 yards a game. Ingram is a workhorse who has at least one rushing touchdown in nine of his past 10 games. The sophomore has not lost a fumble in 254 rushes and 278 touches.
A crowded trophy case
Alabama has 21 conference titles and 12 national championships, while USC has one conference title - the ACC crown the Gamecocks won in 1969. USC assistant head coach for defense Ellis Johnson was an Alabama assistant the last time the Crimson Tide won a national championship (1992) and an SEC title (1999).
Make it special
To pull an upset, Spurrier said it's helpful for an underdog to get a big play from its special teams. And if the Crimson Tide has a weakness, it has been with its coverage teams. Alabama is 105th among 120 teams nationally in net punting with a 32.9-yard net, and ranks near the bottom of the SEC in kickoff coverage. Chris Culliver had two long kick returns last week to become USC's career leader.
Game Within the Game
USC interior linemen vs. Alabama nose guard Terrence Cody
About the interior linemen:
The Gamecocks shuffled their line this week. Left tackle Jarriel King will start at guard, with Kyle Nunn sliding into King's spot. Fifth-year center Lemuel Jeanpierre will line up between King and right guard T.J. Johnson, the Gamecocks' only lineman to start every game.
How they'll win: The 6-5, 312-pound King, who makes his first career start at guard, gives the Gamecocks a big body to try to neutralize Cody. But USC won't get much movement with one player taking on Cody, who can expect a lot of doubling from the center and guard. Steve Spurrier indicated the Gamecocks would not call many up-the-gut running plays.
Key number: 5, USC linemen who will go against Cody at various times. Center Garrett Anderson also is expected to play.
Nicknamed "Mount Cody," the 6-foot-5 senior is listed at 354 pounds, although some believe he is closer to 370. Cody was a consensus first-team All-American last season after transferring from junior college. He had 24 tackles, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and two quarterback hurries.
How he'll win: Cody does not have gaudy defensive statistics. In six games, Mount Cody has just 12 tackles, no sacks and two quarterback hurries. But he is the epitome of a space-eater: He clogs the middle of Alabama's 3-4 defense, and, with his size and athleticism, usually occupies an extra blocker, freeing the Tide's linebackers to make stops.
Key number: 25, games since Alabama last allowed a back to rush for 100 yards - Mississippi's BenJarvus Green-Ellis (131) on Oct. 31, 2007.
Five Questions Stephon Gilmore
No. 5/Cornerback/Rock Hill
Alabama recruited you. Did Nick Saban come by your high school? What was that like?
Yeah. It was big. We had a relationship together. He wanted me to play corner for them. But like I said when I came here, I just felt more comfortable coming here.
Did you visit Alabama?
Yeah, I went. That was my last visit - my second. I only went to here and Alabama. ... Alabama's an amazing place. But I think South Carolina's coming up, though. We're gonna shock some people this year.
What do you remember about your visit? Did they take you to the Bear Bryant Museum?
Oh, yeah. It's a nice stadium. Probably one of the best stadiums in the world. They've got everything around there. Anything you want. But like I said, I didn't want to go to a school that was already (established). I wanted to come to a school that was coming up.
This is an opportunity for you to shut down Julio Jones on national TV. Does that get you jacked up?
Yeah. He's supposed to be one of the best receivers in the world. I'm looking forward to stepping up and trying to make plays. He's a physical receiver. I think I can get up on him and press him a little bit more.
You have a lot of tattoos. Which one is most meaningful to you?
Probably my family tree (on his left arm) with all my family on it. I've got one brother and four sisters, and they all envy me. They all look up to me. All of (their names) start with an S. They come to every game and they're behind me all the way.
Joseph Person's Prediction: Alabama 31, USC 17