No. 12 Gamecocks have tough test in surging UCF

Associated Press  |  Last updated September 27, 2013
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has fond memories of the state of Florida. At the University of Florida he arguably set the standard in a state that at the time also included coaches like Bobby Bowden. After a brief NFL stint, Spurrier returned to the college ranks in 2005 with South Carolina and played his first game that year against a Sunshine State team, thumping a UCF program that was then not even a blip on college football's national stage. Eight years later no one is surprised with what Spurrier has done with the No. 12 Gamecocks (2-1). But a 3-0 start and upset win over Penn State last week puts the Knights in position to garner some of that elusive national attention. Spurrier recognizes the challenge and he isn't downplaying this road game. He expects to be a hostile environment for the Knights' first sellout since 2011. ''Oh yeah, they know scenario. They know the circumstances that we're in,'' Spurrier said. ''They know it's going to be loud and it's an opportunity for South Carolina to take our football show on the road and see what we can do. Hopefully we can play very well. It's the opportunity that's out there for us.'' UCF is just 1-24 all-time against ranked teams and 2-14 opposite Southeastern Conference opponents. The Knights led Missouri at home last season before faltering late. It's why UCF linebacker Terrance Plummer said no one in their locker room needs extra incentive. ''It's what we worked so hard for during the summer - winning these non-conference games,'' Plummer said. ''I think you can see from our non-conference schedule we've scheduled some good opponents. We're going to go out there and see how we match up with some of the best.'' Though he's had forgettable moments during his time in Columbia, Gamecocks senior quarterback Connor Shaw is playing some of his best football. He's thrown six touchdowns without an interception so far and is also completing 65 percent of his passes. A win would be his 20th as a starter. ''Yeah, I do feel like I'm playing well, probably better than I have in the past,'' Shaw said. ''I'm playing smart, I'm not forcing things, (and) I'm taking what the defense is giving me.'' UCF's defense is giving just 12.7 points per game and Knights coach George O'Leary said slippage this week isn't an option against a Spurrier offense and quarterback that's clicking like that. ''You are who you are, as far as the game's concerned,'' O'Leary said. ''You want to be at your best. And we're playing a very good football team. And we're gonna have to play that way to get some things done.'' --- Here are five key things to watch for during Saturday's game: UCF'S OFFENSIVE LINE. The Knights didn't surrender a sack against Penn State despite being without starting tackle Torrian Wilson (knee). He's back this week, but the Knights are still working with two new starters up front. And durability could be an issue for Wilson, who will see lots of Gamecocks DE Jadeveon Clowney. PASSING GAMES. Bortles is the fifth-rated passer in the nation and South Carolina's defense hasn't been stingy in that department, ranked 58th nationally and surrendering 216 yards per game. The Knights are only giving up 173 yards through the air, but Shaw will be the best they've seen. GROUND ATTACK: Both the Gamecocks and Knights have capable running backs. UCF's Storm Johnson has taken a lot of pressure of Bortles, averaging 101 yards per game to go along with six touchdowns. South Carolina's Mike Davis is fourth in the SEC and 21st in the country averaging 113 yards per game, with three rushing touchdowns. CLOWNEY'S FRIENDS: It's no secret teams have been scheming to avoid Clowney, so he may need assistance from his teammates to help put pressure on Bortles. Gamecocks DT Kelcy Quarles is a candidate with two sacks this season. WHO WILL START FAST? South Carolina has jumped on opponents scoring 72 of its 92 points this season by halftime. UCF has been just as impressive out of the gate, scoring 69 of its 110 points in the first half. --- AP sports writer Peter Iacobelli in Columbia, S.C. contributed to this report --- Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Cubs close door on Sammy Sosa reunion after bizarre comments

Rick Pitino restrained from going after North Carolina fan

76ers trading Ersan Ilyasova to Hawks for Tiago Splitter, pick

Budapest drops 2024 Olympic bid, leaving only Los Angeles and Paris, which could ban some participants

DeMarcus Cousins was ‘praying’ for a better supporting cast with Sacramento

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Nets trading Bojan Bogdanovic to Wizards

Elliott spoke with police after 'best friend' caught with gun

Jets reportedly believe Jay Cutler can compete in AFC East

Report: 'Melo could waive no-trade clause for Clippers after season

Rivers: Paul medically cleared to play, could return Thursday

Trea Turner missed part of Nats camp Wedneday for jury duty

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

The top 10 MLB third basemen heading into spring training

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

Box Score 2/22: Not everyone is happy with the new intentional walk rule

Teams and players who could be dealing at the NBA trade deadline

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Nintendo is finally, thankfully embracing sports and eSports

The 'Did the Kings just make the Pelicans into a super team?' quiz

Will the Timberwolves start showcasing their potential?

'Playmakers' in Ice Cube's league who can help the Cavs

Box Score 2/21: It's trade heartbreak season

The guard tandems you'd want in a 2-on-2 tournament

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The top 10 MLB third basemen heading into spring training

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher to win the MVP award

Teams, players who could be dealing at the NBA trade deadline

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Nintendo is finally, thankfully embracing sports and eSports

The 'Did the Kings just make the Pelicans into a super team?' quiz

Will the Timberwolves start showcasing their potential?

'Playmakers' in Ice Cube's league who can help the Cavs

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker