South Carolina
South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler (7) throws a short pass during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Missouri, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr.)

South Carolina Attempts to Snag Bowl Eligibility Against Vanderbilt

The South Carolina Gamecocks (5-3, 2-3 SEC) hit the road to the Music City to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores (3-5, 0-4 SEC) Saturday. With a win, the Gamecocks clinch bowl eligibility for the second straight season. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

Beamer’s Boom

South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer was hired in December of 2020, and he’s had an immediate impact on the program. With a win in Nashville, Beamer will have lead the Gamecocks to bowl eligibility in his first two seasons. He would join former Gamecocks coaches Steve Spurrier and Will Muschamp in this category. After 4-8 and 2-8 seasons in 2019 and 2020, South Carolina needed this turnaround.

Additionally, the Gamecocks have won 13 straight games against Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt: What to Look For

Historically, Vanderbilt has been abysmal against SEC opponents and they’ll need a few factors to come together to win this matchup.

The first is is the play of freshman quarterback AJ Swann. Swann left in the second half of Vandy’s 17-14 loss to Missouri with an undisclosed injury. Luckily for the Commodores, head coach Clark Lea is hopeful he’ll play.

Swann is a smart, conservative quarterback. He has eight touchdowns through the air with only one interception. However, with the Vandy defense allowing 37 points per game, Swann is going to have to take a few more risks if the Commodores want to win their first SEC game.

If Swann seems shaky, the Commodores will turn to their other playmaker with running back Ray Davis. The Commodores average 138.4 yards per game on the ground, and South Carolina ranks 95th in the nation in rush defense.

South Carolina

Last week, the Gamecocks had their four-game winning streak snapped in a tough 23-10 loss to Missouri. In that game, their offense completely sputtered. They had a measly 32 yards on 23 carries on the ground, and transfer QB Spencer Rattler was not able to step up in the passing game. The Missouri defense was impressive with four sacks, 11 tackles for loss and two forced turnovers.

Granted, Vanderbilt’s defense allows more yards than Missouri. However, Rattler has five touchdowns through the air and nine interceptions this season. The Commodores are tied for fourth in the SEC in forced turnovers with 13. Rattler needs to protect the ball against a scrappy, ball-hawking defense.

Look for the Gamecocks’ offensive line to try to set the tone early to establish the run game. When South Carolina runs the ball well, they are a much more comfortable team because they don’t have to rely on Rattler’s arm.

If they can run the ball and prevent explosive plays on defense, South Carolina has what it takes to win this game.

About Steven Hieneman

Senior Sports Media/Business Administration dual major at the University of Florida, ESPN Gainesville WRUF sports correspondent.

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