Kentucky and South Carolina have taken care of business in the first two Games and both could challenge for the SEC East title by season’s end. Of course, there’s still a long way to go and both have to travel to Georgia late in the year, but this is still better than how the last few seasons have gone for them. With the more impressive wins and playing at home, the Gamecocks are -6 point favorites as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
The Gamecocks have actually been underdogs in both of their Games so far yet have won them convincingly. Now in their home opener, they received the early money and that has shot the line up a bit. Led by a stout defense and a more experienced Jake Bentley at quarterback, South Carolina could be one of the surprise teams in the SEC. Bentley has led the way in the first two Games, providing a steady presence under center, while the ground Game has been a bit disappointing. After averaging 5.7 yards per carry last season, top running back Rico Dowdle has found zero room in the first two Games with just 75 yards on 2.9 yards per carry. Ty’Son Williams picked up the slack last Game, but it’s still something that will hamper this team in SEC play.
The bigger thing for the Gamecocks early has been defense and special teams. They already have two touchdowns from kick returns, while they completely shut down Missouri quarterback Drew Lock a week after he threw for 521 yards and seven touchdowns. Kentucky hasn’t exactly played a good offense yet, so there are still some unknowns on that side of the ball. Either way, South Carolina will still get its points some way and that will most likely be from Bentley in the passing Game.
As for the Wildcats offense, things haven’t looked great scoring 51 total points against mediocre-to-bad defenses. Stephen Johnson hasn’t been asked to do much and it remains to be seen how much better he is this year than a season ago when he threw for 13 TDs and 6 INTs. The Wildcats will likely run Benny Snell as much as possible after posting 170 yards in the first two Games. This may be UK’s toughest matchup in that aspect, but South Carolina doesn’t have an elite defense as seen when they allowed 178 yards on 4.8 yards per carry to Mizzou last week.
If the Cats can do the same thing on the ground, that would help in keeping this Game competitive. Then again, this is the same offense that rushed for just 2.2 yards per carry against Southern Miss in the opener.
Kentucky has won this Game the last three meetings with the most recent one last year’s 17-10 defensive showdown. The Wildcats ran for 216 yards in that meeting and that was the only difference. If they can do that again, there’s no reason why this one won’t be close. The Gamecocks have looked solid early, but you can’t rely on a weak ground Game and special teams touchdowns every week. Kentucky +6