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HomeSports#18 Tennessee Vols travels to South Carolina Gamecocks

#18 Tennessee Vols travels to South Carolina Gamecocks

#18 Tennessee at South Carolina

Saturday, October 29th, 2016 | 6:15pm CT
Columbia, SC | Williams-Brice Stadium | TV: ESPN2

Tennessee Volunteers - UT VolsKnoxville, TN – No. 18 Tennessee returns to action after its bye week and looks to stop a two-game skid when it travels to face SEC divisional foe South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium at 6:15pm CT on Saturday.

ESPN2 will carry Saturday night’s broadcast with Mark Jones (play-by-play), Rod Gilmore (color) and Quint Kessenich (sideline) calling the action. The game can also be seen online or on any mobile device through WatchESPN and the WatchESPN app.

Tennessee (5-2, 2-2 SEC) looks to extend its three-game winning streak over South Carolina (3-4, 1-4 SEC) in what has become one of the most tightly contested SEC series’ over the last decade.

Tennessee Volunteers running back Alvin Kamara (6) runs the ball against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first half at Neyland Stadium on October 15th, 2016. (Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports)
Tennessee Volunteers running back Alvin Kamara (6) runs the ball against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first half at Neyland Stadium on October 15th, 2016. (Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports)

The last four meetings between the Vols and Gamecocks have been decided by a combined 11 points and no game in that span has seen a margin of victory greater than three points.

After opening the season 5-0, the Vols have dropped each of their last two games and sit at 2-2 in SEC play. Both losses came to top-10, SEC West foes — a 45-38 double overtime setback at then-No. 8 Texas A&M followed by a 49-10 defeat at the hands of top-ranked Alabama. Tennessee was idle last week.

Meanwhile, South Carolina snapped a losing streak of its own last Saturday when it withstood a late rally from UMass to pick up a 34-28 home victory. The 34 points marked a season-high for a Gamecocks team that is averaging just 16.9 points per game.

Still, South Carolina has gotten steady play from a stout secondary that allows only 183.6 passing yards per contest — good for second in the SEC and a top-20 standing nationally. That unit has helped the Gamecocks rank among the league leaders in points allowed per game at 21.3.

Saturday marks the 35th meeting all-time between the two programs. UT has a decided edge in the series at 25-7-2, but is 6-4 against South Carolina over the last 10 seasons. Last season, Tennessee jumped out to a 17-3 halftime lead only to see the Gamecocks reel off 21 third-quarter points to send things into the final frame knotted at 24-24.

A 27-yard field goal from Aaron Medley with 9:14 remaining in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference as UT pulled out a 27-24 victory at Neyland Stadium.

Tennessee’s last trip to Columbia also conjures memories of the dramatic. Behind Joshua Dobbs’ breakout performance, the Vols rallied from a 42-28 deficit with less than five minutes to play to come away with an improbable 45-42 overtime win.

Dobbs accounted for 166 yards and three scores on the ground while adding 301 yards and a pair of touchdowns through the air. The effort made him the first quarterback in Tennessee history to pass for 300 yards and rush for 100 more in the same game.

Seeking The Sixth

A win on Saturday in Columbia would push UT’s record to 6-2, making the Vols bowl eligible in the month of October for the 1st time since 2006.

That season, Tennessee clinched a bowl berth on October 21st following a 16-13 victory over Alabama in Knoxville.

A 6-2 record would also mark the Vols’ best record over the 1st eight games of a season since 2006 (7-1).

Not Much Between Them

Since 2000, no SEC series has a slimmer average margin of victory than Tennessee-South Carolina.

The last 16 meetings between the Vols and Gamecocks have been decided by an average of 7.3 points per game.

South Carolina’s series with Georgia ranks second in average margin of victory during that span at 10.1 points per game. LSU-Alabama (11.5) ranks third and Florida-Georgia (11.8) is fourth.

Seven-Plus Days To Prepare

For his career, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones is 26-11 (.703) with more than a week to prepare for an opponent. This figure includes season openers, games after a bye week, postseason games, and Saturday games following a midweek contest in the week prior.

At Tennessee, Jones is 9-3 (.750) with more than a week to prepare for an opponent.

Jones owns a 7-3 record in his head coaching career when coming off a bye. That figure includes a 2-3 mark at Tennessee.

Tennessee At Night

Tennessee is officially 107-57-4 (.649) all-time in night games (those beginning after 6:00pm local time).

That record includes a 67-27-2 (.708) record under the lights at Neyland Stadium, a 27-20-2 (.571) record in road night games and a 13-10 (.565) record in neutral-site night games.

The Vols are 2-0 in night games this season, having defeated Appalachian State, 20-13, on opening night and Virginia Tech, 45-24, at the Battle at Bristol.

Last Time In Columbia

In one of the great comebacks in recent Tennessee history, the Vols rallied from down 42-28 with less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to post a 45-42 overtime victory over South Carolina on November 1st, 2014.

The comeback equaled the third largest fourth-quarter comeback in Tennessee’s storied history.

In the win, quarterback Joshua Dobbs set Tennessee’s single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 166.

Dobbs would account for 467 total yards in Columbia, becoming the first player in Tennessee history to pass for 300 yards (301) and rush for 100 yards (166) in the same game.

Derek Barnett tied his own school record for sacks in a game by a freshmen with three.

Barnett Thriving In SEC Play

Defensive end Derek Barnett owns an impressive 26.0 sacks and 44.5 TFLs for his career. Even more remarkably, 23.0 of those sacks and 33.5 of those TFLs have come in SEC play.

Barnett’s 23.0 sacks in SEC play alone would rank inside the top ve on the active list of FBS career sack leaders (Barnett’s 26.0 total career sacks currently ranks second).

In two career games against South Carolina, Barnett owns 13 total tackles, 5.0 TFLs, and 4.0 sacks.

After being held without a sack over Tennessee’s first three games, Barnett now has 6.0 sacks over the last four games, including multi-sack performances against Florida (September 24th) and at Georgia (October 1st).

All of Barnett’s sacks this season have come against SEC opposition.

The Nashville native is alone in third place on Tennessee’s all-time sacks list (26.0) and also ranks third in school history in tackles for loss (44.5).

Toughest So Far

According to the NCAA’s “Toughest Schedules” metric, Tennessee has played the toughest schedule in FBS in terms past opposition and the third-toughest schedule in terms of cumulative opposition.

Not including games played against Tennessee, the Vols’ first seven opponents in 2016 are a combined 36-6 (.857).

With a combined record of 68-26 (.723), Tennessee’s first seven opponents in 2016 averaged nearly 10 wins apiece last season. All seven opponents finished the season with a bowl berth and went a combined 6-2 in the postseason, including a national championship.

22 Straight With A Rushing TD

Tailback Alvin Kamara scored Tennessee’s only touchdown against Alabama on October 15th–a seven-yard rush early in the second quarter. That score pushed UT’s streak of consecutive games with a rushing touchdown to 22.

The 22-game streak is tied for the second-longest in program history, matching a string of 22 consecutive games with a rushing touchdown from October 1st, 1994 to September 7th, 1996.

Tennessee’s all-time record for most consecutive games with a rushing score is 24, established during the 1937-1939 seasons.

Quarterback Joshua Dobbs and tailbacks Jalen Hurd, Kamara, John Kelly and Joe Young have all scored during the streak.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Tennessee’s streak is the second-longest active streak in FBS, trailing only Alabama (28).

The last time the Vols were held without a rushing score was November 22nd, 2014–a 29-21 loss to Missouri.

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