Big Blue Preview: Kentucky vs. South Carolina

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No. 13/13 Kentucky will play host to South Carolina at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky, on Oct. 8 for its first home Southeastern Conference game of 2022. The Wildcats, who are 1-1 in the league this season, will look to improve its streak of two straight wins against the Gamecocks, while they also hope to conquer their fifth straight triumph over the team in games played in the Bluegrass. The appointment will mark a two-game homestand for Kentucky before it enjoys a bye week on Oct. 22.

The Wildcat defense, which is 21st in the nation and fourth in the league in total defense (297.4 yards per game), will need to continue to play a large role if Kentucky is going to outlast South Carolina for the third straight time. The group hasn’t allowed a touchdown in its last three straight quarters this season. Meanwhile, running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. will look to improve to fifth on the program’s all-time career rushing list if he can get 81 yards, while starting signal-caller Will Levis needs just two more passing touchdowns to move into the program’s top five on that respective list.

Cat Scratches: Rodriguez Happy to Be Back in Fold for UK Offense

After missing the first four games of the season, Kentucky running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. returned in Saturday’s game at Ole Miss. And, as he has done for his entire UK career, Rodriguez had a big impact on the Wildcats’ offense.

Rodriguez had 19 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown and also caught three passes for 40 yards. Offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello had an idea of what Rodriguez would bring to the game, but he still found himself impressed with the senior’s effort against the Rebels.

“It was exciting. I knew what he was, but to see it live, he’s just one of physical guys who has great feel,” Scangarello said. “Overall, I just like his demeanor and everything about him. He’s just such a good football player. He’s going to have a long career.”

Having coached in this offense now for a while, Scangarello knows what successful running backs in this scheme have in common…Read More

Kentucky-South Carolina Series

• Kentucky trails the all-time series against South Carolina, 18-14-1, while it also trails in games played in Lexington, 9-8.
• However, the Wildcats have had success as of late, winning seven of the last eight meetings with the Gamecocks. UK won last season in Columbia, 16-10.
• Four of those seven wins were decided by seven points or less.
• During that eight-game stretch, Kentucky has combined for 199 points compared to South Carolina’s 145 points.
• Kentucky has a two-game winning streak against South Carolina overall but owns a four-game winning streak in Lexington. UK’s last win was a 41-18 rout in 2020.

Kentucky-South Carolina Connections

• Kentucky has four players from the state of South Carolina in DB Jalen Geiger (Columbia), DB Andru Phillips (Mauldin), K Chance Poore (Anderson) and DB Jordan Robinson (Columbia).
• South Carolina has no players on its roster from Kentucky.
• The Gamecocks’ defensive coordinator Clayton White spent four seasons as the defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach at Western Kentucky University from 2017-20.
• The Gamecocks’ defensive line coach Jimmy Lindsey spent three seasons at Western Kentucky, from 2017-19, where he worked with White. Lindsey was the Hilltoppers’ defensive line coach in 2017, before coaching the defensive ends and serving as the recruiting coordinator in 2018 and 2019.

A UK Win Would…

• Be Kentucky’s third straight win against South Carolina for the first time since 2016-18.
• Be the Wildcats’ fifth straight win against the Gamecocks in Lexington.
• Before the Mark Stoops era, the Cats had never won more than two straight games against the Gamecocks in Lexington.
• Help Kentucky to a 5-1 record on the season.
• A UK win would help the Wildcats get off to as good of a start through six games for the fifth time under Stoops (2014 — 5-1; 2017 — 5-1; 2018 — 5-1; 2021 — 6-0).
• Extend Stoops’ all-time record of wins at Kentucky to 64.

By the Numbers

Points allowed by the UK defense in the second half against SEC teams this season

Touchdown passes needed for Will Levis to move into fifth on UK’s career TD pass list

Interceptions by the UK defense since 2020, third-best in the SEC over that span

Nation-leading yards per kickoff return by UK freshman Barion Brown

Yards rushing needed for Chris Rodriguez Jr. to pass Mark Higgs for fifth on the UK career rushing yards list



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