UK Football

UK-South Carolina matchups



Chris Smelley has emerged from a three-player logjam to seize control of the quarterback job for South Carolina. Smelley had the best game of his career last week against Mississippi, throwing for 327 yards and three touchdowns. Smelley can be mistake-prone, however, as he's thrown seven interceptions on the season. UK quarterback Mike Hartline continues to efficiently manage the Kentucky offense.

Advantage: South Carolina

Running backs

Neither team has gotten much production from its backfield. Mike Davis is Carolina's feature back but has just one touchdown on the year, and none of the backups have made much of a dent. UK has rotated four backs but hasn't gotten a breakout performance from any of them. The Wildcats do appear to have more depth and big-play ability, though.

Advantage: Kentucky

Wide receivers

The receiving corps continues to be a sore spot for the UK offense, while South Carolina welcomed back All-Southeastern Conference candidate Kenny McKinley from a hamstring injury last week in the Mississippi game. South Carolina tight end Jared Cook has 22 receptions.

Advantage: South Carolina

Offensive line

The Gamecocks have struggled not only opening holes in the run game but haven't been able to protect the quarterback, either. Their 20 sacks allowed are next to last in the SEC. UK also is laboring up front, as injuries have the right side of the line in a state of flux. Still, the Wildcats' three sacks allowed are second-best in the league.

Advantage: Kentucky

Defensive line

South Carolina's defensive line isn't loaded with All-Americans, but its players work well together as a unit. While they got gashed at times in the run game at Alabama, the Wildcats front four showed its prowess by overwhelming the touted Crimson Tide line with a relentless pass rush.

Advantage: Kentucky


UK still has nightmares about South Carolina weakside linebacker Eric Norwood, who returned two fumbles for touchdowns in last year's game. Sixth-year senior Jasper Brinkley is one of the nation's best in the middle. The Wildcats will get a boost from the return of middle linebacker Micah Johnson.

Advantage: South Carolina


The Cats and Gamecocks both have shutdown corners in Trevard Lindley and Captain Munnerlyn. South Carolina strong safety Emanuel Cook leads the team with 41 tackles, while starting corner Stoney Woodson and nickel back Carlos Thomas each has two picks. UK free safety Marcus McClinton is tied for the league lead in interceptions with three, while Lindley is first in the SEC in pass deflections per game.

Advantage: Even

special teams

Two of the league's best kickers will be on display today. South Carolina's Ryan Succop has hit 11 of his 14 field-goal attempts, while Tim Masthay has boomed a league-high 16 touchbacks and is second in the SEC in punting. UK is also leading the league in kickoff returns while the Gamecocks have the SEC's best kick coverage unit.

Advantage: Even

Chip Cosby