Focus for Muschamp and South Carolina is Chattanooga not Clemson
What time do the Gamecocks play?
Who: Chattanooga (6-4) vs. South Carolina (5-4)
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Series history: This is the first meeting between the teams. South Carolina has won its past two games against FCS opponents.
TV: SEC Network Alternate (Mike Morgan, play-by-play; Barrett Jones, analysis; Alyssa Lang, sideline)
SEC Network alternate channels:
AT&T UVerse: 608/1608HD and 609/1609HD
DISH (National): 596-597
DISH (Hopper): 404.1, 404.2
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 135/XM 207
Line: Gamecocks by 30 1/2
Weather: Mostly clear, with a low around 41. No chance of rain. Around 51 degrees at kickoff, 44 at the end of the game.
What’s at stake
Coming off the disappointing loss to Florida, the Gamecocks have to turn their attention toward getting bowl eligible. A win Saturday guarantees that, which would make Will Muschamp 3 for 3 at reaching the postseason.
The game also could be a chance for South Carolina to play its younger players, assuming it pulls ahead by a good bit. With the new redshirt rule in place, USC can play freshmen in four games, and the team has only four more games on the schedule.
The Mocs are looking for what every non-powerhouse FCS team is in this spot: The chance to topple a team from the higher subdivision. At 5-4, Chattanooga has a long shot to do it, but that’s why they play the games.
South Carolina Gamecocks-Florida Gators predictions
Josh Kendall: South Carolina is going to beat Chattanooga on Saturday in Williams-Brice Stadium. There’s no sense burying the prediction. With one more win, South Carolina will earn a trip to a bowl game, and it will be just the second time in history the Gamecocks have finished three consecutive seasons in a postseason game. South Carolina 38, Chattanooga 17
Ben Breiner: In its past two FCS games, Will Muschamp’s squad has messed around a little, but South Carolina’s only game against a non-Power 5 team this season produced a large-scale blowout. South Carolina has a stout FCS defense ahead of it, but should roll regardless. South Carolina 41, Chattanooga 10
The teams, by the numbers
Opp. Yds Rush/Game
Opp. Yds. Pass/Game
Opp. Total Yds/Game
South Carolina players to watch
1. South Carolina running back Rico Dowdle hardly played against Florida because of an ankle injury. The team might not need him or Ty’Son Williams against FCS Chattanooga, but getting both back would help going into Clemson. For the season, Dowdle has 100 carries for 504 yards and four touchdowns.
2. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel delivered his first 100-yard receiving game of the season against Florida. With 527 yards and five touchdowns, this week should provide the chance for adding to what has been a statistically underwhelming season.
3. Grad transfer safety J.T. Ibe is questionable to come back from a knee injury that sidelined him for most of the season. The Gamecocks need him purely for depth reasons, as the Gamecocks have two healthy safeties and then a corner at the position.
Chattanooga players to watch
1. Chattanooga receiver Bryce Nunnelly set a program record earlier this season when he recorded four 100-yard receiving games in a row The 6-foot-2, 190-pound sophomore has made 74 catches for 1,096 yards and seven touchdowns in 2018.
2. Quarterback Nick Tiano threw for 300-plus yards in consecutive games earlier this season. That was a first by a Moc since B.J. Coleman in 2010. Tiano, a 6-5, 240-pound junior, is a former three-star prospect who began his career at Mississippi State. He appeared in six games as a Bulldog freshman in 2016.
3. Chattanooga entered last weekend 12th in the FCS in scoring defense and 10th in turnover margin. Linebacker Marshall Cooper is at the heart of the Mocs’ defensive unit. He leads the team with 89 tackles. He’s also forced a couple fumbles and has an interception.
South Carolina depth chart
OR Ty’Son Williams
OR A.J. Turner
OR Mon Denson
Brad Johnson/Bryson Allen-Williams
J.J. Enagbare/Rick Sandidge
Greg Hadley contributed to this report