South Carolina (2-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) at No. 21 Tennessee (3-1, 0-1), Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Line: Tennessee by 11 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Series record: Tennessee 26-11-2.
Neither No. 21 Tennessee nor South Carolina can reallly afford a second league loss and still have any hopes of an SEC East title. The Volunteers vividly recall the 63-38 pounding at the hands of South Carolina last season. That loss cost them a possible spot in the College Football Playoff. Tennessee also lost quarterback Hendon Hooker with a torn ACL and ended his chances at being a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. That moved Joe Milton III back into the starting job in Tennessee.
South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler shredded Tennessee's defense last season throwing for 438 yards and 6 TDs. The Gamecocks scored 28 straight points turning a tight game into a blowout victory. Tennessee's challenge is keeping Rattler from repeating that performance. The Vols have 16 sacks and 39 tackles for loss. They will have to contain Rattler and keep him from extending plays with his feet.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
South Carolina: Tree Babalade, a 6-foot-5, 338-pound true freshman, has taken over as the Gamecocks’ starting left tackle. He made his first career start against top-ranked Georgia and posted a pass-blocking rating of 90 by Pro Football Focus on 61 snaps. That was the fourth-best grade among all offensive tackles in college football that week.
Tennessee: Sophomore RB Dylan Sampson is poised for a breakout game. He scored four TDs against Virginia, but had just four carries against Austin Peay. He didn’t play against Florida with nobody saying why. Then he rushed for 139 yards and 2 TDs against UTSA and is averaging an SEC-best 7.37 yards per rushing attempt.
FACTS & FIGURES
Tennessee had 18 first-down snaps in the first half of last week's win over UTSA. Five were incomplete passes. The Vols piled up 273 yards on the other 13 jumping out to a 31-0 lead. … The 25th anniversary of Tennessee’s 1998 national championship team will be celebrated Saturday. … South Carolina WR Xavier Legette leads the nation in receiving yards per game averaging 139.0. …. Opponents are converting just 36% (25 of 69) of their third-down attempts against Tennessee. The Gamecocks are making 42% (23 of 55). … Tennessee have won 11 straight games at Neyland Stadium. … Tennessee will be wearing its “Dark Mode” featuring black uniforms and helmets with orange numbers.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll