SETTING THE STAGE Following the most high-profile win in program history, No. 10/12 South Carolina hits the road for the second time this season as the Gamecocks travel to Lexington, Ky., to face SEC Eastern Division foe Kentucky on Saturday, Oct. 16, at Commonwealth Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. ET with a national television broadcast on ESPN2.
The Gamecocks are 4-1 (2-1 SEC) after defeating the nation's No. 1-ranked team and defending national champion, the Alabama Crimson Tide, by a 35-21 score on Oct. 9 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. Kentucky enters the contest at 3-3 (0-3 SEC) following a last-second home loss to Auburn, 37-34.
THE SERIES Today marks the 22nd game in the series between South Carolina and Kentucky that dates back to 1937. The Gamecocks lead the all-time series 14-6-1, including an 8-3 mark in games played in Lexington. South Carolina has won 10 in a row in the series, dating back to the 2001 season.
QUICK HITS With the win over No. 1 Alabama, South Carolina was named the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week.
The Gamecocks, at No. 10 in the latest Associated Press poll, have their highest national ranking since the week of Oct. 20, 2007, when the team was ranked No. 6 heading into its meeting with Vanderbilt.
South Carolina's 10-game winning streak over Kentucky is the longest active streak against an FBS opponent for the Gamecocks (Carolina has won 15 straight vs. FCS foe Wofford).
Sophomore WR Alshon Jeffery leads the SEC and is third in the nation in receiving yards per game, averaging 125.0 yards per contest. For his effort vs. Alabama, he was named Rivals.com National Player of the Week.
Junior QB Stephen Garcia has completed 72.3% of his passes this season (73-of-101), which leads the SEC. His pass efficiency rating of 171.0 is second in the league and fifth in the nation. After his 17-for-20, 201-yard, 3-touchdown effort against No. 1 Alabama, he was named the Walter Camp Foundation National Offensive Player of the Week, Davey O'Brien National Quarterback of the Week, and SEC Offensive Player of the Week.
The Gamecocks are tied with LSU for the league lead in sacks with 19 on the season, an average of 3.8 per game.
South Carolina has scored on 19-of-20 red zone possessions this year, scoring touchdowns on 17 occasions. The Gamecocks lead the SEC in red zone offense and are fifth in the nation at 95.0%. On the same token, the Gamecock defense has allowed 12 scores in 20 tries by opposing offenses (60.0%), with only five touchdowns. That number leads the SEC and ranks fifth in the nation as well.
A SOUTH CAROLINA WIN OVER KENTUCKY WOULD...
Be the 11th straight win in the series for the Gamecocks (dating back to 2000).
Snap a six-game losing streak in SEC road games (last win was at Kentucky in 2008).
Improve Steve Spurrier's all-time record against Kentucky to 18-0 (6-0 at Carolina, 12-0 at Florida).
Move South Carolina to 5-1 for the second straight year and the third time in four seasons.
Give South Carolina a 3-1 record as a ranked team this season, the best mark since 2007.
Give Steve Spurrier his 40th win as South Carolina head coach, making him just the fourth coach in school history to reach that total (Rex Enright, Jim Carlen, Paul Dietzel).
THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT: KENTUCKY The Kentucky Wildcats, at 3-3 overall and 0-3 in the Southeastern Conference, are in their first year under head coach Joker Phillips. Phillips was a longtime assistant under Rich Brooks, who retired at the end of the 2009 season. That 2009 campaign saw the Wildcats post a 7-6 record, including a 3-5 mark in SEC play, and fall to Clemson 21-13 in the Music City Bowl.
GAMECOCKS AND WILDCATS This is the 22nd all-time meeting between Kentucky and South Carolina, with the Gamecocks holding a 14-6-1 edge, including an 8-3 mark in games played in Lexington and a 6-3-1 edge when facing UK in Columbia.
South Carolina has won the last 10 meetings in the series, giving the Gamecocks their longest active winning streak against an FBS opponent.
Kentucky's last win in the series came on Oct. 9, 1999 when the Wildcats posted a 30-10 victory in Columbia.
The teams first met in 1937 and played just three times before South Carolina joined the Southeastern Conference in 1992. The Gamecocks lost the first meeting, 27-7, on the road, then pulled out a 14-14 home tie in 1978 before breaking through with a victory in 1981 in Lexington. The teams have met every year since 1992.
SInce joining the SEC, South Carolina is 13-5 against Kentucky.
TIES WITH KENTUCKY South Carolina has one player from the commonwealth of Kentucky, sophomore WR D.L. Moore, a native of Bowling Green. Meanwhile, Kentucky boasts nine players from the state of South Carolina - DT Antwane Glenn (Pacolet), DE Justin Henderson (Bamberg), DL Brice Laughlin (Summerville), WR Gene McCaskill (Chester), CB Jerell Priester (Ulmer), CB Cartier Rice (Duncan), DL Donte Rumph (St. Matthews), LB Antonio Thomas (Cowpens) and DE Trevor Wyndham (Swansea).
Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips was an assistant coach at South Carolina during the 2002 season, coaching the Gamecock wide receivers under Lou Holtz.
Several players on both sides were high school teammates:
SPURRIER VS. KENTUCKY South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier owns a perfect 17-0 record against the Kentucky Wildcats, including a 5-0 record as head coach of the Gamecocks. The mark is his best against any opponent. He also has double-digit wins against Vanderbilt (15-2), Georgia (13-5), Tennessee (11-8), LSU (11-3), Auburn (10-6) and South Carolina (10-1). Among active coaches, his mark against Kentucky is third only to Joe Paterno's 27-0 record against Temple and a 24-0-1 mark against Maryland as head coach at Penn State.
SPURRIER VS. PHILLIPS This is the first meeting between Steve Spurrier and Joker Phillips as head coaches. The two have been on opposite sidelines before, with Phillips as an assistant at Kentucky from 1990-96 and again from 2005-09. Spurrier has won each meeting with Phillips on the opposite sideline, a 12-0 all-time record.
OPENING STATEMENT South Carolina has been at its best in the first half, outscoring opponents 100-38 in the first two quarters, including a 56-16 edge in the opening stanza. This is a stark contrast from last season, when the Gamecocks were outscored 162-134 in the opening half, including an 81-65 deficit in the first quarter. In 2009, the Gamecocks' best quarter was the third as they held an 87-39 scoring advantage; this year, the Gamecocks have controlled the third quarter by a 34-22 count.
IT'S BEEN A WHILE The Gamecocks seek to snap a six-game losing streak at SEC road venues, dating back to the 2008 season. That year, Carolina lost its final road SEC game at Florida, then went winless at Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Arkansas in 2009. In fact, the last road win in conference play for the Gamecocks came on Oct. 11, 2008, with a 24-17 victory at Kentucky's Commonwealth Stadium.
SEEING RED South Carolina has been the best in the league in the red zone, ranking first in the SEC in both red zone offense and defense. Offensively, the Gamecocks are 19-for-20 in red zone opportunities, scoring 17 touchdowns along with two field goals. Conversely, the Gamecock defense has allowed just 12 scores in 20 opportunities, with seven of the 12 being field goals. South Carolina was the last team in the country to allow a red zone touchdown this season.
GAMECOCKS AS A RANKED TEAM Under Steve Spurrier, the Gamecocks have been a ranked team heading into 19 contests. Carolina is 9-10 in those opportunities when appearing in the national rankings. In home games, Carolina is 8-3 when ranked under Spurrier, including a 5-0 mark at home over the last two seasons. Carolina is 1-7 in road contests as a ranked squad.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: OCT. 10, 2009 Stephen Garcia threw for three touchdowns and ran for another and No. 25 South Carolina stopped a potential tying two-point conversion in the fourth quarter to beat Kentucky 28-26 on Saturday, keeping coach Steve Spurrier a perfect 17-0 against the Wildcats. The Gamecocks won their 10th straight over Kentucky. Garcia had touchdown passes of 10, 28 and 22 yards to freshman Alshon Jeffery. Garcia added what proved to be the winning margin with his leap from the 1 with 8:22 remaining to give South Carolina a 28-20 lead. Kentucky had a chance to tie after Randall Cobb's 2-yard TD run with 4:34 left. But Will Fidler's pass was knocked down by defensive end Cliff Matthews. Facing third-and-4 moments later, Garcia gained 5 yards leaping over a Kentucky defender to keep South Carolina moving with 3:02 to go. Kentucky never got the ball back as South Carolina matched its best start in Spurrier's five seasons. South Carolina's defense, which came in third in the SEC, could not stop a Kentucky attack that had managed only 240 yards a game the past two weeks against the league's No. 1 and No. 2 defenses in Florida and Alabama. The Wildcats got nearly that much against the Gamecocks in the opening half with 213 yards built on scoring drives of 82, 59 and 54 yards. Kenny Miles finished with 100 yards on 17 rushes. Jeffery had 138 yards on seven receptions.