South Carolina football comes out of the off week set to take on the Tennessee Volunteers at Williams-Brice Stadium. Here’s what you need to know about the game:
Who: Tennessee (3-4, 1-3 SEC) at South Carolina (3-3, 2-3)
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
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Where: Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)
Series history: The Volunteers lead the series 25-9-2. The Gamecocks have won two in a row after a three-game skid. The past six games have been within a touchdown.
TV: SEC Network (Tom Hart, play-by-play; Jordan Rodgers, analysis; Cole Cubelic, sideline)
Radio: 107.5 FM (Todd Ellis, play-by-play; Tommy Suggs, analysis; Langston Moore, sideline) ... See all the radio affiliates around the state here.
Satellite radio: Sirius 105/XM 190
Line: South Carolina by 7 1/2
Weather: Mostly cloudy. Temperature should be around 59 at kickoff, then low to mid 50s by the time the game ends. Chance of rain is 12 percent.
What’s at stake
South Carolina might find itself needing this win just to ensure bowl eligibility. USC needs at least one more conference win or an upset at Clemson to get to six (that’s assuming wins over UT Chattanooga and a to-be-determined 12th opponent).
The Gamecocks had stretches of looking ragged on both sides of the ball in the season’s first half. Will Muschamp said self-inflicted errors caused a lot of the issues, and the off week might have been a chance to correct those.
The Volunteers picked up a big win against Auburn nearly two weeks ago, and could use all the SEC wins they can get in Jeremy Pruitt’s first season.
The teams, by the numbers
Opp. Yds Rush/Game
Opp. Yds. Pass/Game
Opp. Total Yds/Game
South Carolina players to watch
1. USC quarterback Jake Bentley was bad and then good in a losing effort against Texas A&M. He’s in line to start again and has 1,151 yards, 10 touchdowns and an SEC-high seven interceptions this season.
2. Running back Rico Dowdle has had a few rough games, having not surpassed 4 yards per carry in the past three contests. For the season, he leads USC with 83 carries, 356 yards and has a pair of touchdown runs. Against a suspect Tennessee defense, he could have a chance to get going. It’s the same team he got hurt against last year and ran for 127 yards in the meeting two seasons ago.
3. Junior defensive end D.J. Wonnum hasn’t played since the season opener, but his impact could be big. He’s the best edge-setter on the team and led USC in sacks and tackles for loss last season. His return could allow a more flexible use of Bryson Allen-Williams.
Tennessee players to watch
1. Freshman defensive back Bryce Thompson, a native of Irmo, was a South Carolina commit and one of the best recruits in the class of 2018 for Will Muschamp. However, academic issues derailed his plans to sign with the Gamecocks, and he ended up at Tennessee instead, where he has put together an outstanding rookie campaign, playing every game and recording 21 total tackles, two for loss, to go with two interceptions, three pass breakups and a forced fumble. His return to Columbia should be an emotional one, regardless of result.
2. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jarrett Guarantano was injured against Alabama, came out, and his veteran backup, Keller Chryst, orchestrated a pair of scoring drives. Now, coach Jeremy Pruitt says Guarantano will come back as the starter against USC, and some Vols fans are unhappy, thinking the backup should get a chance. Sound familiar, Gamecock fans? Guarantano, like Jake Bentley, has hardly dazzled this year, throwing just six touchdown passes and 1,192 yards in seven games. At Williams-Brice Stadium, he could be playing for his job, and Chryst could be playing his way into one.
3. Sophomore running back Ty Chandler is Tennessee’s do-everything player — 318 rushing yards, 154 receiving yards and 86 return yards to go with four total touchdowns on the season, more than any other Vol. He also averages 4.9 yards per rush and 12.8 yards per catch.
South Carolina depth chart
OR Ty’Son Williams
OR A.J. Turner
Brad Johnson/Bryson Allen-Williams
Greg Hadley contributed to this report