South Carolina (6-5) plays Akron (4-7) on Saturday at noon in Williams-Brice Stadium in the Gamecocks final regular season game of the season. Here are five burning questions headed into the game:
How many people will show up?
This game was scheduled less than a month ago as a makeup for the Sept. 15 Marshall game that was canceled due to Hurricane Florence. South Carolina refunded all season tickets holders for the Marshall game, meaning the school was starting from scratch when it came to selling tickets for Saturday. Earlier this week, ticket sales were below 30,000, and the Gamecocks have provided free tickets to community groups, military organizations and sponsors.
Will Jake Bentley stay hot?
South Carolina’s junior quarterback has been on a quite a roll. He has 2,754 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season. He can become just the fifth player in school history to have more than 3,000 yards passing in a season, joining Dylan Thompson, Todd Ellis, Steve Taneyhill and Stephen Garcia. If he hits his season average Saturday and in the bowl game, he’ll finish the year with 3,305 yards, the second-most in school history behind Thompson’ 3,564 in 2014.
Can Deebo Samuel get to 1,000 yards?
Despite a career that has had some brilliant moments, the senior wide receiver has yet to reach 1,000 yards receiving in a season. He’s already at 849 yards, which leads the team this year. One more receiving touchdown would move him into a tie for second-place in the school’s single-season record book. Sidney Rice, who had 13 touchdown catches in 2005, is the only player in USC history have more than 10 in a season.
Can the Gamecocks avoid disaster?
Akron beat Northwestern earlier this season. The same Northwestern team that will be playing in the Big Ten championship game on Saturday. That was in September and the Zips have lost to Buffalo, Eastern Michigan and Bowling Green, among others, since then, but if the stars align Akron has proven it can knock off a Power 5 team. A victory would help South Carolina keep its current bowl positioning and give the Gamecocks seven victories. In 124 previous seasons of football, South Carolina has won seven or more games 27 times.
Can Will Muschamp set a South Carolina record?
The Gamecocks third-year head coach is 21-16 in his time at the school, which ties Steve Spurrier for the best three-year start in school history. Spurrier was also 21-16 in his first three years so Muschamp can lay claim to the best start in school history with a win against Zips or in the bowl game. Muschamp will become the first coach in school history to start his tenure by taking USC to three consecutive bowl games.