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Can the South Carolina Gamecocks upset the Tennessee Volunteers?

Will Muschamp and his Gamecocks prepare to take on Butch Jones' Vols and knock them down and out. Vols vs Gamecocks preview inside.

We are less than 36 hours until Butch Jones locks horns with his old archrival Will Muschamp. The unranked USC Gamecocks (3-4, 1-4 SEC) will welcome in the #18 Tennessee Vols (5-2, 2-2 SEC.)

THE HISTORY

Tennessee holds a respectable lead in the overall series, 25-7-2. The Vols also own the current streak at three wins running. Having said that, the last four contests were decided by a total of just 11 points.

A far more interesting record exists between the coaches. Butch Jones was 0-2 against Coach Muschamp when the latter was coaching at Florida. Steve Spurrier couldn’t seem to quite figure Jones out, as he was 0-2 against him. Gamecock nation hopes Muschamp’s experience can propel them to victory in a date under the lights.

South Carolina endured a sluggish first half of the season. Renewed moxy was seen last Saturday against the Massachusetts Minutemen. Thanks in no small part to freshman quarterback Jake Bentley, the Gamecocks put up more points than they had all season. South Carolina will need to keep that trend up this week if they wish to upset Tennessee.

The Vols, in contrast, have a very prolific offense. Dual threat senior quarterback Joshua Dobbs can kill a defense on the ground as well as in the air. Running back Jalen Hurd is another explosive impact player in Jones’ arsenal. In a lucky break for South Carolina, the Vols’ second running back, Alvin Kamara is out with an injury.

Unlike the last couple of seasons, South Carolina has been excellent in scoring defense. They are one of only seven upper division programs to have not had 30 or more points scored upon them. Muschamp’s revamped and reformed Carolina defense will attempt to continue that respectable streak this weekend.

On the other hand, the Gamecocks will be out to end a different streak: losing to the Vols. A knockdown in Columbia would doom Tennessee’s SEC East title hopes this season.

IT’S HAPPENED BEFORE

In 1992, USC’s first season in the SEC, both teams were much in the same boat as they are now. The Vols were on the fast track to Atlanta, and a struggling USC squad had notched a single win in their belt.

A first year freshman quarterback by the name of Steve Taneyhill won the day for the Gamecocks. His trademark mullet and cavalier attitude lifted South Carolina to victory over a highly favored Tennessee team. The Gamecocks wouldn’t win again in the series, however, until Steve Spurrier‘s inaugural season in 2005.

Muschamp and his young, rebuilding team will hope to replicate Taneyhills’ feat with their newfound weapon under center. Bentley has shown he can get the ball downfield in a hurry, a handy trait when you have a struggling offensive line. Bentley won’t be up against a weak Massachusetts defense, however. He will be going head to head against one of the most dangerous defenses in the division. Derek Barnett, Tennessee’s All-American defensive end candidate, is quietly having one of the best seasons of any defensive player in the nation. Bentley must avoid Barnett to have any chance of success in this game.

PREDICTION

My prediction is that, like the previous four matchups, this one will come down to the wire. This one, however, will fall in USC’s favor thanks to an improved defense. South Carolina survives the contest 24-21.

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