UK at S. Carolina: Keys to the game

October 4, 2013 

Quick facts about Saturday's University of Kentucky football game at the University of South Carolina.

THE GAME

Kentucky (1-3, 0-1 SEC) at No. 13 South Carolina (3-1, 1-1)

When: 7:30 p.m.

Where: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.

TV: Fox Sports South

Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1, Sirius Channel 135, XM Channel 201

Series: South Carolina leads 16-7-1

Last meeting: South Carolina won 38-17 on Sept. 29, 2012, at Commonwealth Stadium.

Line: South Carolina is favored by 21 points.

THE KEYS

Start fast

Two years ago in Columbia, Kentucky experienced an epic all-systems failure. The Wildcats were trounced 54-3 on a day when South Carolina ran almost as many plays (91) as UK had yards of total offense (96). If the Cats can get out of the gate quickly Saturday night it should prevent any lingering hangover effect from that traumatic 2011 trip.

Actually move the chains

Amazingly, Kentucky has converted only one of 21 third-down tries in its past two games combined, albeit against the teams ranked No. 2 (Florida) and No. 3 (Louisville) in the country this week in total defense. For all the pre-season hype that surrounded star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina is only No. 58 nationally in total defense. The Gamecocks have struggled in the secondary (10th in the SEC, allowing 252 yards a game). It will be disappointing if UK doesn't do a better job this week of sustaining drives.

Stop the run

South Carolina's Mike Davis leads the SEC in rushing yards a game (127). Kentucky is 13th in the league in run defense (allowing 200.8 yards a contest). To have any hope of ruining Steve Spurrier's Saturday night, UK has to stand strong against the 5-foot-9, 215-pound Davis.

THE MOOD

Is growing a bit restless with the Kentucky offense. It shouldn't be, given the strength of the defenses UK has been facing and the youth of the Wildcats offensive skill players. Still, Saturday would be a good time for the Cats to show some punch.

MARK STORY

Mark Story: (859) 231-3230. Email: mstory@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @markcstory. Blog: markstory.bloginky.com.

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