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Payback: South Carolina Gamecocks vs.Tennessee Vols

Payback: South Carolina Gamecocks vs.Tennessee Vols

2013

Three years ago, the SEC East was in turmoil, much as it is now. An upstart Mizzou team took advantage of injuries in their second season in the SEC. The South Carolina Gamecocks suffered a loss early on to Georgia, but had righted the ship and were ready for a night date in Mizzou. But first, they had to get past the Tennessee Vols on Rocky Top. It shouldn’t have been a problem, as the unranked Vols were winless in conference play at the time, and the 11th ranked Gamecocks had one of the nation’s most prolific offenses and stoutest defenses.

Much like at Florida the year before, South Carolina could never truly get into a rhythm. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Gamecocks clung to a single point lead. After the their star quarterback Connor Shaw went down with a freak injury, it was up to that feared Carolina defense to follow through with the win. Vol quarterback Justin Worley stood in the pocket on a blitz and got his receiver at the Gamecocks 25-yard line. The Vols inched closer, and Michael Palardy booted a 19-yard field goal from the left hash as time ran out, taking the win 23-21.

From there, South Carolina went on to defeat Missouri in an instant classic. They would win the fight, but not the war. With one loss compared to South Carolina’s two, it was the Tigers who landed in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game.

2016

This season, the Vols currently stand third in the division, behind rivals Florida and Kentucky. If the Vols can win out and the Gators cannot, it’ll be hallelujah time on Rocky Top.

This Saturday, Tennessee has a primetime date at Williams-Brice Stadium. South Carolina has new play action with its pro-style freshman quarterback. Tennessee certainly should not underestimate its opponent in this match-up, especially if the Gamecocks can fire on all cylinders under the lights. A loss to South Carolina would very likely knock the Vols out of contention for the SEC East, and Carolina knows this. With new head coach Will Muschamp being undefeated as against Tennessee and Butch Jones, a lot is on the line in this game.

Can South Carolina Avenge the 2013 Team?

This is no easy feat. This is a Gamecock squad with a grand total of three wins, only one in the division. A team that, until last weekend, was dead last in the nation in scoring offense.

On the flip side of the coin, this is also the best Tennessee team they’ve had in nine years. A Vol team that played Texas A&M down to the wire and is undefeated in the division.

Any team can beat any given team any given week. It will not be easy, maybe not even probable. But it is possible. 

In 1992, South Carolina started a freshman quarterback mid-season. The Gamecocks were winless, five games into the season. A long-haired Pennsylvania native named Steve Taneyhill took command of the second-rate team, guiding them to a nearly undefeated record from there. Mississippi St, Vanderbilt, Clemson, Louisiana Tech, and yes, the Vols, were all defeated. The revamped team even gave former Head Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier, and his Gators a startle in a 14-9 defeat.

Can the Gamecocks replicate with Jake Bentley? They just might.

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