South Carolina football returns home this week to welcome Vanderbilt in what will be one of its best chances to secure first-year head coach Shane Beamer’s first victory in the Southeast Conference .
The Gamecocks lost 45-20 to Tennessee last Saturday after an appalling first-half performance in Knoxville that included poor offensive execution, missed trick play and unusually poor defensive performance. South Carolina allowed 38 points and 373 yards on the Flights at halftime, pumping breaks on an explosive attack from Tennessee for the second half, but unable to generate enough points to make a realistic comeback on Rocky Top.
Vanderbilt, meanwhile, continues to struggle in the SEC basement. The Commodores sit at the bottom of the conference in total offense, passing yards and points per game, and they are second to last in total defense and points per game allowed behind struggling Missouri. Vandy was shut out by two conference opponents, Georgia and Florida, and claimed wins over Mountain West Colorado State and now 0-7 UConn.
South Carolina lead a 12-game winning streak in this week’s home game against the Commodores and have won 26 of 30 all-time games. The Gamecocks earned a 41-7 victory over Vanderbilt last year in Nashville, one of their two wins in 2020.
The Saturday afternoon kickoff coincides with the first weekend of the SC State Fair.
How to watch the South Carolina vs Vanderbilt football game
Who: South Carolina Gamecocks (3-3, 0-3 SEC) vs. Vanderbilt Commodores (2-4, 0-2 SEC)
Or: Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina
When: 4 p.m. Saturday
TV: SEC Network
This week’s SEC betting odds, TV hours
South Carolina opened as a 16-point favorite against the Commodores, but the line has shifted to favor the Gamecocks up to 20 points in other sports betting. The VegasInsider Consensus was at USC by 20 Sunday night.
- Noon: Auburn, Arkansas (-3.5)
- Noon: Florida (-10) at LSU
- Noon: Texas A&M (-9) in Missouri
- 3:30 p.m .: Kentucky to Georgia (-22.5)
- 4 p.m .: Vanderbilt in South Carolina (-20)
- 7 p.m .: Alabama (-17.5) to Mississippi State
- 7:30 p.m .: Ole Miss (-3) in Tennessee
The state of the Gamecocks
South Carolina has yet to sort out its attacking problems. The Vanderbilt game may be his best chance to get things going before the list escalates with Texas A&M, Florida, Missouri, Auburn and Clemson closing 2021.
Vanderbilt is 14th of 14 SEC programs in total offense, averaging 310.7 yards and 13.3 points per game, but South Carolina barely leads, No. 13 in the conference with 335 , 3 yards and 22 points per game. Win the 46-0 Week 1 game against now 1-5 opponents FCS Eastern Illinois, and the Gamecocks have only collected 17.2 points per game.
South Carolina had the opportunity to score and could have kept last week’s Tennessee game close if they had executed a sleight of hand in the first quarter. Instead, it ended with defensive lineman Jordan Burch throwing an interception and a 14-0 deficit quickly turned to 28-0 after a quick touchdown from the volunteers and a missed snap in USC’s next possession.
South Carolina improved in the second half of last week’s game, but still has plenty of room to grow in terms of consistency and offensive identity. The good news is that Vanderbilt has a list of its own issues, which gives the Gamecocks a great opportunity to fix the issues.
The State of Commodores Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt first-year coach Clark Lea inherited a program with few or no expectations, but Vanderbilt has shown no skill in any phase of competition, especially in conference.
The Commodores have yet to score a single point against an SEC team in 2021. Admittedly, their first meetings were with top-ranked Georgia and on the road in Florida. Combined, they were outscored 104-0 and outscored 1,011-364 in all-out offense regardless. Vanderbilt’s 62-0 loss to Georgia was the fifth worst margin in football history, and the loss to Florida included three failed field goal attempts at 39, 41 and 33 yards.
Silver liners aren’t necessarily easy to find for Vanderbilt. But if there is anything, it’s that the last trip to Florida on October 9 showed a silver lining. The Commodores put pressure on Gator quarterbacks Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson fairly well, totaling six quarterback hits, and had two interceptions.
Vanderbilt’s offense, meanwhile, drove to the Florida 1-yard line before halftime. Vandy’s best touchdown opportunity came crashing down when wide receiver Chris Pierce lost possession of a reception in the end zone as he touched down in fourth and on goal. Originally deemed a touchdown, the touchdown was canceled after review.
3 Vandy players to watch
Will Sheppard, WR: Sheppard is the SEC’s 11th-best wide receiver in six games, sharing receptions with teammates Chris Pierce, Devin Boddie and Cam Johnson. Sheppard totaled 333 yards on 31 catches with two touchdowns, averaging 10.7 yards per catch. The 6-foot-3 second-year best game featured a 38-yard touchdown reception in Vanderbilt’s 30-28 win over UConn on Oct. 2.
Dashaun Jerkins, S: Jerkins intercepted Florida quarterback Emory Jones at the Gators 30-yard line last Saturday and created turnovers throughout his time with Vanderbilt. Last season, the Commodores’ safety forced two fumbles and recovered one, finishing 2020 tied for fifth in the SEC in forced fumbles per game.
Ken Seals, QB: Seals is in his second year leading Vandy’s offense and has totaled 1,086 yards in the Commodores’ first six games. In his best game of 2021 against UConn, Seals completed 27 of 40 passes for 333 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He had 22 of 43 passes for 192 yards with two interceptions against Florida.