“Show Me My Opponent” returns this week after two weeks off to recover from the loss to Southern Miss. This week we’re looking ahead to the Cats’ home contest against South Carolina, also known as the biggest game of Mark Stoops’ career. It’s a must-win game if there ever was one.
Let’s meet the adversary from the Palmetto State…
THE UNIVERSITY of SOUTH CAROLINA
(But not USC)
The University of South Carolina is a beautiful institution spanning 359 acres in downtown Columbia, just a short stroll from the South Carolina State House and the overwhelming population of homeless drunks that litter the city.
Founded in 1801 as South Carolina College, the University of South Carolina wishes it were the real USC, but it is not; the real USC is the University of Southern California. South Carolina also wishes it were Clemson, but it is not; Clemson is much, much cooler.
However, there is some good at Wanna-Be-USC. For instance, the popular Five Points area is a great place to barhop and flirt with hard fives and sixes, which is always a good time. Then there’s the school’s No. 9 ranking in U.S. News & World Report‘s “Most Promising and Innovative Schools” list in 2009, although I don’t know if it ever lived up to those promises from seven years ago. The undergraduate international business program also received national recognition, which is good for undergraduates with interest in international business.
More fun University of South Carolina and Columbia facts:
— The university houses the largest Ernest Hemingway collection in the world.
— The Horseshoe on the main campus does not have slot machines, table games or any form of gambling; despite being called The Horseshoe. In fact, it’s not a casino at all. It is a historic, U-shaped blueprint of the original campus, as we learned the hard way during a trip in 2014.
— Columbia is home to the largest fire hydrant in the world, at 575,000 pounds. It is also home to the world’s smallest police station, at five by 12 feet in area.
— There’s a Bojangles’ and a Tin Roof. Or what I like to call an ideal Saturday.
SOUTH CAROLINA TRADITIONS AND COCK STUFF
South Carolina’s athletic teams have been known as the Gamecocks for over 100 years. The nickname was chosen because Fighting Roosters did not have the same ring, and opposing schools love to say “Beat The Cocks.”
“Cocky” was chosen National Mascot of the Year in 1986, 1994, and again in 2004.
The school’s fight song, called “The Fighting Gamecocks Lead the Way,” is sung to the tune of “Step to the Rear” from the hit 1967 Broadway musical How Now, Dow Jones.
“Sandstorm” is the most annoying arena/stadium song in sports.
NOTABLE SOUTH CAROLINA PEOPLE
Darius Rucker: South Carolina’s most famous alum is Darius Rucker of Hootie & The Blowfish fame. Rucker now makes a career out of remaking other people’s songs and selling his albums and merchandise to Ryan Lemond. Rucker is also a close friend of UK wide receivers coach Lamar Thomas.
Angelica Sin: Angelica Sin is a graduate of SC’s nursing program and a huge fan of the Cocks. One could argue no one loves the Cocks more than Angelica, as she has proudly shown in films such as Backdoor To Buttsville 2, Ass Wide Shut, Stop! My Ass Is On Fire! 3, Big Tit Brotha Lovas 2, Butts 2 Nuts 3, and Thanks For The Mammaries 4. (She’s obviously a sequels actress.) Angelica is currently ranked 1,803rd in the PornHub.com Porn Star rankings, so I’m told.
Brad Guzan: Brad Guzan is the goalkeeper for the United States Men’s National Team and the projected starter in goal for the Americans in the 2018 World Cup. He played two seasons for South Carolina, where he was a 2004 All-American, before turning pro.
Lilian Garcia: Garcia is a former Spanish ring announcer and diva in the WWE. She graduated cum laude from SC and was a top ten finalist in the Miss South Carolina beauty pageant. Garcia proposed to wrestler Viscera in 2005 but he left her in favor of the Godfather’s hoes at the Vengeance PPV.
INSTAGRAM SCOUTING REPORT
The Instagram Scouting Report is vital to game day preparation.
THAT TIME A GUY CRIED OVER A SOUTH CAROLINA LOSS
SO WHO’S THE HEAD COACH?
In case you missed the big offseason news, Will Muschamp is now the head coach at South Carolina. The former Florida failure took over for Steve Spurrier after Spurrier hung up his visor to end his Hall of Fame career at the conclusion of last season.
Muschamp spent 2015 as the defensive coordinator at Auburn, where his Tigers’ defense gave up over 400 yards per game. He signed a three-year deal that made him the highest-paid defensive coordinator in football, but bailed on that deal to become the head man in Columbia.
This season, Muschamp has Carolina off to a 2-1 start with a big first win on the road at Vanderbilt. He followed that up with a 13-point loss at Mississippi State and then a tight home win over East Carolina last weekend.
He makes really angry faces during games.
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
|#97 | KOBE SMITH | DL | Freshman
If the name Kobe Smith sounds familiar to you, it is because he was a one-time Kentucky commit from the 2016 recruiting class. Smith, a three-star defensive tackle out of Georgia, committed to the Wildcats in July of 2015 and held firm in his commitment until late December of that year. He committed to South Carolina two weeks after bailing on UK and enrolled on campus as an early enrollee the very next day.
Smith saw action as a true freshman in each of South Carolina’s first three games and has one unassisted tackle on the stats sheet in his young career.
|#74 | MASON ZANDI | LT | RS Senior
A preseason All-SEC selection, Mason Zandi is the leading Cock blocker for South Carolina, and Kentucky’s pass rush will struggle to find penetration with such a good Cock blocker getting in the way.
Zandi started 10 games at right tackle last season, but moved over to left tackle for his final year of Cock blocking.
|#13 | SEAN KELLY | P | RS Senior
Keep an eye on South Carolina punter Sean Kelly because he’s known to be a threat to the environment. Kelly was arrested over the summer for “malicious injury to a tree” following an incident that included him starting a fight in a bar, getting tossed from the bar, and throwing someone’s cell phone against a wall when they tried to record the whole thing. Details as to how the tree got involved were never released, but anyone who injures a tree is a real asshole with personal problems.
LAST TIME WE MET
Kentucky defeated South Carolina in Williams-Brice Stadium in Week 2 of the 2015 season. The win was the Cats’ second in a row over the Gamecocks and ended a 22-game losing streak, as well as a six-year SEC road losing streak.
UK held a 24-7 lead at halftime but squandered away the big lead in the second half. The home team had a two-point conversion try to tie it late in the fourth, but Denzil Ware picked up a Pharoah Cooper fumble and took it 98 yards to extend the lead to four.
Moments later, South Carolina crossed back into scoring territory, only to be intercepted by Chris Westry with four minutes to play. Kentucky picked up three of its four second-half first downs to run out the clock and escape with the win.
With Drew Barker out at least a month, it is now Stephen Johnson’s show in Lexington. The JUCO transfer will make his first career start this coming Saturday against Carolina and he will do just enough to get the Cats back to .500.
Kentucky will win the game, 31-27, for a third consecutive victory over the Gamecocks. Will Muschamp’s team will have a chance to take the lead in a late fourth quarter drive, but a controversial delay of game penalty with seven seconds still on the play clock will set them back five yards and cost them the game in the end. Muschamp will argue the penalty and the fact Carolina still had plenty of time to snap the ball; as Mark Stoops shoots the double-bird from across the field, shouting, “That’s for the Florida game.”