USC Gamecocks Football

Scouting South Carolina’s next opponent: The Tennessee Volunteers

South Carolina (3-4, 2-3 SEC) at Tennessee (2-5, 1-3 SEC)

When: 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee

TV: SEC Network

Line: USC by 4.5

THREE STORYLINES

1. South Carolina and Tennessee meet each other with a combined record of 5-9, making it the fourth time in the last six years that the Gamecocks and Volunteers combine to be under .500 at the time of their matchup. While this game has no SEC East title implications, there’s still importance on both sides. Vols coach Jeremy Pruitt is trying to avoid going bowl-less each of his first two seasons — and he’s got only one loss to give the rest of the way, with trips to Kentucky and Missouri still ahead. USC coach Will Muschamp is trying to make it four bowls in his four years in Columbia. He’s got two losses to give to reach the six-win mark, with home games ahead against ranked Clemson and Appalachian State — and a trip to Texas A&M.

2. Which coach spends this week more steamed about SEC officials? Questionable calls hurt Muschamp and the Gamecocks in their loss to Florida on Saturday afternoon. A similar theme played out Saturday night for Pruitt in Tennessee’s loss at Alabama. A couple former Nick Saban assistants, Muschamp and Pruitt should good and fired up by 4 p.m. Saturday.

3. Muschamp owns the Volunteers. As coach of Florida and South Carolina, he’s 7-0 against Tennessee. The three wins as a Gamecock have come by a combined 12 points, including the 15-9 result sealed in 2017 after a goal-line stand. South Carolina is seeking a sixth win in seven trips to Knoxville. Tennessee is 2-3 at home this season with losses to the likes of Georgia State and BYU.

THREE TENNESSEE PLAYERS TO WATCH

1. A fourth storyline to this game involves the mystery behind which Tennessee quarterback starts against the Gamecocks. True freshman Brian Maurer replaced Jarrett Guarantano earlier this month against Georgia, but hasn’t finished either of Tennessee’s last two games because of concussions. Guarantano replaced Maurer in the Alabama loss, but then he was pulled late as redshirt freshman J.T. Shrout led Tennessee’s final drive. Collectively, Vols QBs have thrown for 10 touchdowns against nine interceptions this season.

2. While Tennessee’s quarterbacks have struggled this season, receiver Jauan Jennings remains the Vols’ most reliable offensive option. The brother of former South Carolina women’s basketball player Alexis Jennings, Jauan ranks among the top 10 in the SEC for receiving yards (478) and touchdowns (five). He had three catches and a score against the Gamecocks last season.

3. Tennessee is second in the SEC in interceptions with 10. The Volunteer secondary is headlined by Bryce Thompson. A Dutch Fork High School star and former South Carolina recruit, Thompson was a freshman All-American in 2018. Off-the-field troubles led to shaky start to 2019 — including a suspension — but he’s played in each of the last four games, racking up 17 tackles and a sack.

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Andrew Ramspacher has been covering college athletics since 2010, serving as The State’s USC men’s basketball beat writer since October 2017. His work has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors, Virginia Press Association and West Virginia Press Association. At a program-listed 5-foot-10, he’s always been destined to write about the game. Not play it.
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