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Gamecocks and Tigers Set for 8 pm Saturday

Oct. 17, 2008

South Carolina vs. LSU  |  8 p.m.
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The South Carolina Gamecocks (5-2, 2-2 SEC) return home after a two-game road swing to host the #13/14 LSU Tigers (4-1, 2-1 SEC) in a Southeastern Conference match-up. Game time is set for 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 18 and the contest will be televised nationally on ESPN. The Gamecocks have put together four straight wins, defeating Wofford, UAB, Ole Miss and Kentucky, after suffering a pair of seven-point SEC losses at Vanderbilt and to Georgia. The defending national champion Tigers suffered their first loss of the season last Saturday at Florida after opening the season with wins over Appalachian State, North Texas, Auburn and Mississippi State. LSU leads the all-time series, 15-2-1, with Carolina's only home win coming in the 1930 campaign.


LSU holds a commanding 15-2-1 advantage in the all-time series with South Carolina. The Bayou Bengals hold a 4-1-1 lead in games played in Columbia, own a 10-1 advantage in games played in Baton Rouge, and won the only neutral site contest, taking the 1987 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla. LSU has won the last three meetings, including a 28-16 win in Baton Rouge last season, and a 33-7 victory on Oct. 18, 2003, the last time the two teams met in Columbia. South Carolina's last win came by an 18-17 margin in Baton Rouge on Oct. 1, 1994. The Gamecocks only win over the Tigers in Columbia was back in 1930 in the first meeting between the two schools, a 7-6 Carolina win.


The Gamecocks went into the Bayou on Oct. 1, 1994 and escaped with an 18-17 win. The Gamecocks trailed the entire contest until Stanley Pritchett plunged in from the one-yard line with 12:52 remaining in the game for the deciding points. Pritchett finished the day with 18 carries for 90 yards. LSU held a 14-12 lead at the intermission in front of 63,281 rain-soaked fans and built the lead to 17-12 entering the final stanza. Carolina quarterback Steve Taneyhill was 23-for-30 for 157 yards and a touchdown, as the Gamecocks rolled up 262 yards of offense compared to 209 for LSU. It was just the Gamecocks' second win over LSU in school history, the first coming in the first meeting between the two schools, a 7-6 win on Oct. 11, 1930 in Columbia. Both Gamecock wins over LSU have been by a single point.


The 3-0 and 12th-ranked Gamecocks ran into a buzz saw in the form of second-ranked LSU in Baton Rouge on Sept. 22, 2007 and came back from the Bayou with their first loss of the season, a 28-16 setback. The Gamecocks scored first, but LSU used a solid ground game, which rolled up 290 yards, to score the next 28 points. Carolina tried to rally late with two fourth-quarter scores, but it wasn't enough. South Carolina threw for 244 yards compared to LSU's 70, but the ground game proved to be the difference, as USC could only muster 17 net yards rushing on 27 attempts on a rainy day in the Bayou.


South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is 11-2 all-time against LSU, posting a 6-0 record when playing at the Swamp in Gainesville and a 5-2 record when playing in Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. This will be the first time he has faced the Tigers outside of Gainesville or Baton Rouge. His offenses have scored more than 20 points 11 times in the previous 13 meetings, rolling up 437 points for an average of 33.6 points per game. His defenses have surrendered more than 21 points just twice, allowing just 173 total points, an average of 13.3 points per game.


LSU comes into this week's game ranked 13th in the Associated Press poll and 14th in the USA TODAY/Coaches' poll, falling from fourth in both polls after last week's loss at Florida. The Gamecocks are 5-10 against ranked opponents in the Steve Spurrier Era, including an 0-1 mark this season. Carolina is 2-7 at home in those contests and 3-3 on the road. The Gamecocks have lost their last three games against ranked opponents.


Head coach Steve Spurrier is 26-18 in his fourth season in Columbia. He recorded the most wins by a Carolina head coach in his first three seasons (21), topping Joe Morrison's mark of 20 from 1983-85, and has now surpassed Warren Giese (25 wins from 1956-59) for the most wins by a Gamecock coach in his first four seasons on the Carolina sidelines.


The Gamecocks have lost 18 games in the Steve Spurrier Era, 11 of which have come by a touchdown or less and seven of which came to ranked opponents.


The Gamecocks traveled to Kentucky last Saturday and, despite committing four turnovers and missing four field goals, came out on top with a 24-17 win. Redshirt freshman quarterback Stephen Garcia came off the bench in the third quarter to lead the come-from-behind win. Garcia completed 10-of-14 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown in one and a half quarters of action. Kenny McKinley and Jason Barnes each logged 88 yards receiving. The Gamecock defense held Kentucky scoreless while surrendering just 55 yards in the second half. The Gamecocks got a couple of special special teams plays in the win. Captain Munnerlyn returned a kickoff 84 yards, setting up one touchdown, then Jordin Lindsey blocked a field goal attempt that Munnerlyn returned 81 yards for another score.


The win at Kentucky gave Steve Spurrier a 100-29 record as an SEC coach against SEC competition (he also has three wins against SEC teams while coaching at Duke). He became just the fourth coach in history to record 100 career SEC wins. Only Bear Bryant (159), John Vaught (106) and Vince Dooley (105) have won more regular-season SEC conference games.


The win over Kentucky represented Steve Spurrier's 26th victory at Carolina, tying Sol Metzger for eighth place on the all-time wins list. Metzger logged 26 wins from 1920-24. Now in his fourth season, Coach Spurrier has coached 44 games at South Carolina, while it took Metzger 46 games to win 26 over five seasons.


All four of South Carolina's SEC games this season have been decided by exactly seven points. The Gamecocks were seven-point losers at Vanderbilt (24-17) and to #2 Georgia (14-7), but have bounced back with seven-point wins at Ole Miss (31-24) and Kentucky (24-17).


Kenny McKinley caught seven passes at Kentucky to move into the top spot on USC's all-time receptions list with 173, passing Sterling Sharpe.


Captain Munnerlyn came up big in the special teams department in the win at Kentucky. In his first kickoff return this season, Munnerlyn sprinted 84 yards, setting up the Gamecocks' first touchdown. It was the longest kickoff return by a Gamecock since Matthew Thomas went 95 yards for a touchdown against Virginia in 2002. Munnerlyn then picked up Jordin Lindsey's blocked field goal attempt and returned it 81 yards for a touchdown, the first for Carolina since Rashad Faison turned that feat against Boise State in 2001. His performance earned him SEC Special Teams Player of the Week honors.


The Gamecocks were a solid 8-of-17 on third down conversions at Kentucky, 47.1 percent, right in line with their 46.9 season percentage (46-of-98), which is the second-best mark in the SEC and ranks 22nd in the country. They converted just 35 percent last season. Conversely, they held the Wildcats to just 1-of-16 on third downs (0.6 percent). For the season, Carolina has held its opponents to just 30-of-94, 31.9 percent, on third downs, fifth in the SEC and 24th in the nation.


The Gamecocks lead the SEC in first downs, totaling 148 through seven games, an average of 21.1 first downs per game. The Gamecocks have had at least 20 first downs in five of seven games, with the exceptions being Vanderbilt (18) and Kentucky (16). The total has been helped by their opponents' mistakes as the Gamecocks have accumulated 15 first downs by penalty. No other SEC team has more than 12.


The Gamecocks started the season 0-2 in league play after suffering setbacks at Vanderbilt and to No. 2 Georgia, but history would indicate that they still have hope to get back in the race. The last time they opened the conference slate with back-to-back losses was in 2005 when they dropped their first three decisions to Georgia, Alabama and Auburn before bouncing back with five straight SEC wins, topping Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida in succession.


Senior placekicker Ryan Succop leads the nation in field goal attempts this season with 19, two more than any other kicker. He is one of seven kickers to record a dozen or more field goals this year.


While the Gamecocks are one of the nation's worst in turnover margin, ranking in a tie for 10th in the SEC and 107th in the country at -1.0 per game, the defense has minimized the damage. Carolina has surrendered just 27 points following their 20 turnovers, while they have scored 41 points following their 13 takeaways.


A win over LSU would guarantee Carolina at least a .500 record and make them bowl eligible for the fifth consecutive season. The Gamecocks went 6-5 in 2004, 7-5 in 2005, 8-5 in 2006 and 6-6 in 2007. It's the first time they've gone four straight seasons with at least a .500 mark since 1987-90 (8-4, 8-4, 6-4-1, 6-5). The last time they went five or more consecutive seasons with a .500 record or better was from 1928-34.


While the offense has started 23 different players this season, the Carolina defense has used just 14 different starters. The starting defense is composed of three seniors (Jordin Lindsey, Jasper Brinkley and Stoney Woodson), five juniors (Nathan Pepper, Eric Norwood, Darian Stewart, Emanuel Cook and Captain Munnerlyn), and thee sophomores (Ladi Ajiboye, Cliff Matthews and Chris Culliver).


The Gamecocks have played just two overtime games in their history, both at Tennessee. They dropped a 23-20 decision in Knoxville on Sept. 27, 2003, then fell by a 27-24 score on Oct. 27, 2007, also at Neyland Stadium. Every other SEC team has played at least four overtime games since the rule was established in 1996.


The Gamecocks will enjoy an off week next weekend before resuming conference action at home on Saturday, Nov. 1 when they host the Tennessee Volunteers at Williams-Brice Stadium. Tennessee leads the all-time series 21-3-2, including an 8-2-2 mark in Columbia.Four of the last five and six of the last eight games between Carolina and Tennessee have been decided by a touchdown or less, with two of the games decided in overtime.



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