South Carolina (3-2, 2-2 SEC) at Kentucky (3-1, 1-1)
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Commonwealth Stadium
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TV: SEC Network (Play-by-play Tom Hart; analysis Matt Stinchcomb; sideline Heather Mitts)
Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1, XM Channel 190, Sirius Channel 93
Series: South Carolina leads 17-7-1, and has won 13 of the last 14.
Last meeting: South Carolina won 35-28 in Columbia, S.C., on Oct. 5, 2013.
Line: South Carolina is favored by 4 points.
THREE KEY QUESTIONS
How will Kentucky handle the distractions of the air-gun affair?
Four Kentucky freshmen — including valuable offensive playmakers Dorian Baker and Stanley "Boom" Williams, as well as the (likely) redshirting Drew Barker and Tymere Dubose — are suspended for the game after their on-campus game of "manhunt" with pellet guns led to a university security lockdown late Sunday night. With UK so reliant on young players, will the Wildcats be able to put aside the disruptions of the week?
Can Patrick Towles bounce back?
It's hard to argue with third in the SEC in passing (279.2 yards a game) and a 3-1 record. So, overall, the first four games of Towles' tenure as Kentucky's starting quarterback have been a success. However, the second half against Vanderbilt last Saturday was the first time in which Towles looked like what he is — a sophomore in his early days as a college starter. You can be sure South Carolina went to school on that video. We'll see how Towles adjusts and comes back mentally.
Will Kentucky match South Carolina's urgency?
Kentucky has trouble with Steve Spurrier-coached teams under the best of circumstances — 1-20 all-time testifies to that. This figures to be an especially motivated team Spurrier is bringing to town. South Carolina began the season with aspirations of winning the SEC East yet, only five games into the year, the Gamecocks already have two league losses. In what appears to be a mediocre East, that may not end the Gamecocks' title hopes — but a third SEC defeat likely would.
Has been dampened somewhat by UK's player suspensions. Otherwise, the fact that Kentucky's young talent has been impressive so far this season and South Carolina has looked somewhat vulnerable would have made for the most anticipated UK home game since the Wildcats' five-year bowl streak ended in 2010.