The South Carolina Gamecocks will close out their season Saturday night as they travel to Kroger Field to take on the Kentucky Wildcats.
In the Gamecocks’ last outing, they had a 29-point loss at home against No. 8 Georgia. With a plethora of injuries and opt-outs on defense, the team surrendered 332 yards and four touchdowns to the Bulldogs' rushing attack.
Heading into the season finale, there will be history on the line for sophomore running back Kevin Harris, who is closing in on 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his collegiate career. The Hinesville, Georgia, native has run for an SEC-best 928 yards and scored 15 total touchdowns.
The last Gamecock to rush for at least 1,000 yards was Mike Davis, who compiled 1,183 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2013 as a sophomore.
“I think it’s a goal that is on our kids' minds, and not just Kevin,” interim head coach Mike Bobo said at Tuesday’s press conference. “It’s something that the offense takes pride in, especially in the offensive line and the running backs, they know how close he is and know what he’s meant to this football team offensively and in the run game and the pass game and they want to see him get to 1,000 yards.”
Freshman quarterback Luke Doty will be back under center against Kentucky’s defense, making his second career start as a Gamecock. In last week’s contest, Doty completed 18 of his 22 passes for 190 yards, including a 98-yard drive in the fourth quarter that resulted in a touchdown pass to senior tight end Nick Muse.
Meanwhile in Lexington, Kentucky, the Wildcats are coming off back-to-back losses to No. 1 Alabama and No. 6 Florida. In those two games, the team was outscored by a wide margin of 97-13.
“Obviously, this year has been very frustrating, has not gone the way we wanted to. It’s been very well-documented how different it is and unsettling it is and disappointing,” head coach Mark Stoops said in a press conference about Kentucky’s 3-6 season. “So hopefully we could finish up the right way.”
Stoops said it was different getting ready to play South Carolina without facing former head coach Will Muschamp. He said he has “a lot of respect for Will in the work that he’s done and just the competitor that he is, and so it won’t be the same competing without him being over there as well.”
Braden Ramsey, sports editor of The Kentucky Kernel, said “it’s hard to say” what to expect from the Wildcats.
“In the second halves the last couple of weeks, it’s kind of just felt like the team has quit a little bit,” Ramsey said. “When Kentucky has had the motivation, they’ve played well ... Basically, in their three wins, they’ve had major motivation each week, and like I said, this season hasn’t gone the way they would’ve wanted it to and, honestly, the way most people, I think, expected it to go."
Ramsey said he thought the team would "be motivated and come out and put on a good performance in the last game of the season."
South Carolina will close out the season against Kentucky at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on SEC Network.