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The Sports Daily > Leftover Hotdog
SEC East Showdown – UK vs. USC

Never thought I would say that this game is a match up of leading SEC East Powers and a meeting of teams in the top 12. South Carolina is 4-1 and ranked #11. Then Kentucky 5-0 and number #9. It is a wonderful match up and on paper it seems like a great battle against two teams that match up extremely well. UK is one of the best passing teams where as USC has the best pass defense. Look at the SEC Rankings – On Defense: South Carolina in 2nd and Kentucky is 8th. Then on Offense: South Carolina is 9th and Kentucky is 1st.

As we all know Spurrier is undefeated as a Coach against UK (14-0) but that does not matter for this game. UK is not the same UK team of the past and not the same team USC has beaten over the years. USC has also played UK tight in years past and this game has always been one that has been too close for the USC faithful….this go around should be no different.

Looking at UK from the start of the 07 season was the one game that scared me b/c their offense is so potent and can strike with ease. On D, their secondary is good and they always play tough yet they really have won games by scoring the most.

5 Keys to the Game for a Win by USC:

1.Stop Woodson— Heisman Contender Andre’ Woodson has a 16-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio this season, a 67.1 completion percentage (112 of 162) and has 1,309 yards passing in 5 games. This means trouble for any team and it means he is the grease in the UK offense. Stop him and a win is in reach. This has to be done by pressure and being aggressive up front and doing what you are suppose to do in the secondary. SC D line needs to be in his face all night!

2.SC Defense has to play at their best — The Gamecocks must stop the UK team that averages 46.6 points a game– best in the SEC and No. 5 in the nation. The secondary of SC will face their toughest test all season so really the game rests on their shoulders. They can not allow a UK WR to get behind them and SC must tackle. Also go for knocking passes down and do not do anything dumb…no penalties guys. Time for the SC Secondary and LB core to step it up…prove they are the best and if they get beat don’t give up.

3. Capitalize on UK mistakes — USC will need UK to help by beating themselves a little b/c if it comes down to who can score the most, I feel SC may lose out. So force a fumble, get a INT or make them miss on offense. When they mess up, SC has to be there to put salt on the wound.

4. Smelley must be perfect — A lot to ask of the redshirt freshman to be perfect but in this game he must b/c the Wildcats have picked off nine passes this year. That’s a big reason why UK is plus 7 in turnovers and has forced 14 turnovers, both of which are second in the SEC to Louisiana State. USC ranks last in turnover margin at minus 4. No miscues on o-fence( ie delays or false starts) and Smelley must balance the offense with run and pass. Also the offense has to move the ball, control the clock and get 3rd conversions. Sounds real simple but the Smelley led Offense is just now starting to work. Smelley must use his TEs and hit the WRs….also don’t be afraid to “air out” a pass or two to test the secondary and speed of the SC WR core.

5. SC must Control the Game — SC must keep the UK offense off the field so winning the time of possession is crucial and not missing scoring opportunities. SC Special teams must win out by not allowing them any cheap points or great field position. Also our unit must get in good position to help the team or heck block a kick or score a TD. The SC Crowd must be in the game and be loud.

These are my keys to a SC win and I feel that the game will be tight the whole way with SC winning with a late rally by less than 7. If it rains for the game it could play into USC’s favor but we shall see. Game is on ESPN and kickoff is around 7:40pm….look for a TD late to edge USC over UK or a FG late to seal a win — SC 31 UK 27

Sidenote — Rivals.com is reporting that a whole host of celebrity athletes will be in attendance for Thursday’s nationally-televised game, including a possible appearance by NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr. Others expected to be at the game include former Gamecock football stars Sidney Rice, Troy Williamson, Sheldon Brown and Johnathan Joseph, as well as former wrestler Ric Flair and NASCAR driver Elliott Sadler.

Thoughts or your predictions?