Who has the advantage?
Kentucky's Morgan Newton completed only two of 11 passes in the first half at LSU and was pulled at the start of the second half. Backup Maxwell Smith (1-for-5, a lost fumble returned for an LSU touchdown) was no better. After Stephen Garcia had his third multiple-interception game in the past four in South Carolina's loss to Auburn, Steve Spurrier named sophomore Connor Shaw the starter. Shaw also started the opener against East Carolina — and got pulled in favor of Garcia.
True freshman Josh Clemons (69 yards at LSU) has been one of UK's few offensive rays of hope. Raymond Sanders will return after missing three games with a knee injury. South Carolina star Marcus Lattimore leads the Southeastern Conference in rushing (677 yards).
La'Rod King had his streak of four straight games with a TD reception snapped at LSU. Matt Roark caught his first career touchdown for UK last week. Alshon Jeffery might be the most talented wideout in the SEC, but is only ninth in the league in receptions (19) because of South Carolina's inconsistent quarterbacking. Bruce Ellington, the basketball point guard, drew praise from Spurrier for his play (three catches for 60 yards) against Auburn.
This week, senior Nick Melillo is first-team over sophomore Tyler Robinson on the Kentucky depth chart. They each have four catches. South Carolina's Justice Cunningham has five receptions and, at 265 pounds, brings a imposing presence.
Kentucky has given up more sacks (21) than any team in the SEC. After an injury-plagued early season, UK does at last have its five projected starters on the field together. Center T.J. Johnson anchors the South Carolina front. Senior left tackle Kyle Nunn missed the Auburn game with an injury. If he doesn't play Saturday, a freshman (either Mike Matulis or Cody Gibson) will replace him.
Sophomore tackles Donte Rumph and Mister Cobble helped Kentucky mount a stout run defense at LSU. South Carolina ends Melvin Ingram (5.5 sacks) and Jadeveon Clowney (four) have made quarterbacks miserable. Ingram (7.5 tackles for loss; two interceptions; three TDs on two fumble recoveries and a 68-yard fake punt) is said to be "doubtful" for Saturday with a sprained foot.
Kentucky All-America candidate Danny Trevathan leads the SEC in tackles (11.8 a game). Middle linebacker Ronnie Sneed played strong (11 tackles) at LSU. Weak-side linebacker Reginald Bowens has 25 tackles for South Carolina.
Hybrid safety/linebacker Winston Guy has 53 tackles, 6.5 for loss, and two interceptions. Expect South Carolina to test UK corners Randall Burden and Anthony Mosley. Playing a hybrid role similar to Guy's, South Carolina's Antonio Allen has 49 tackles, three interceptions and three fumbles forced and recovered. Corner Stephon Gilmore is also a star-caliber player.
Ryan Tydlacka leads the SEC in net punting (41.0 yards per kick). Place-kicker Craig McIntosh is 4-for-5 on field-goal attempts. UK is last in the league in punt-return average (2.1 yards). South Carolina's Ace Sanders had a 68-yard, punt-return touchdown against East Carolina. Place-kicker Jay Wooten is 2-for-3 on field goals, and missed the shortest one (46 yards) he's tried.