Trailing 10-0 at Missouri, South Carolina was off to the kind of start in an SEC road game that Will Muschamp had hoped to avoid this season.
But if the Gamecocks can continue to respond the way they did against Mizzou, Muschamp won’t have much to complain about. First, Deebo Samuel again returned a kickoff 97 yards to cut the deficit to 10-7. Then two plays later, after an interception by Jamyest Williams, Samuel scored again on a 25-yard reverse.
Samuel’s 14-point explosion in 30 seconds reversed the momentum and South Carolina never trailed again in a 31-13 victory.
But now comes an even bigger challenge. By virtue of the schedule, a home win against Kentucky on Saturday would make the unbeaten Gamecocks the only SEC team to already have two conference wins.
And, yes, it also would end Kentucky’s three game win streak in the series. Previously, the Wildcats had won just one of 14 games against the Gamecocks from 2000-13.
“Well, I told our guys in the locker room after the last ballgame, the seniors haven’t beaten these guys and that’s not something we need to allow to happen,” Muschamp said. “We’ll certainly be focused on Kentucky this week and understand what’s at stake. It’s the SEC East. It’s the home opener. So there’s a lot of things.”
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Tennessee at Florida, Saturday 2:30 p.m., CBS
Purdue at Missouri, Saturday 3 p.m., SEC
LSU at Mississippi State, Saturday 6 p.m., ESPN
Kentucky at South Carolina, Saturday 6:30 p.m., SEC
Mississippi at California, 9:30 p.m., ESPN
1. Alabama (2-0):Last Week: W, Fresno State, 41-10. The Impact: QB Jalen Hurts scored on 55-yard run on second play to get the Tide rolling. He finished with 154 yards rushing and two TDs while passing for 128 yards and another score.
2. Georgia (2-0):Last Week: W, at Notre Dame, 20-19. The Impact: Bulldogs’ first trip north since 1965 was worth the wait as Kirby Smart’s defense held the home team to 1.5 yards per carry and finished with three sacks, including game-clincher against Irish QB Brandon Wimbush
3. Auburn (1-1):Last Week: L, at Clemson, 14-6. The Impact: Offensive line was in tatters after Clemson finished with 11 sacks on Jason Stidham and surrendered just 13 yards rushing and 117 yards overall.
4. LSU (2-0):Last Week: W, Chattanooga, 45-10. The Impact: Opening season with two wins is nice but Ed Orgeron isn’t happy since Tigers have committed 21 penalties for 160 yards.
5. South Carolina (2-0):Last Week: W, at Missouri, 31-13. The Impact: Deebo Samuel returns another kickoff for TD and then scored on 25-yard run to erase early Mizzou lead for surprising Gamecocks, who are 2-0 for first time in five seasons.
6. Tennessee (2-0):Last Week: W, Indiana State, 42-7. The Impact: After surrendering 535 yards rushing a week earlier, Vols stopped Sycamores on all 11 of their third down attempts.
7. Florida (0-1): Last Week: Cancelled, vs. Northern Colorado. The Impact: Because of Hurricane Irma, Gators still don’t know what they have after season-opening loss to Michigan.
8. Kentucky (2-0):Last Week: W, Eastern Kentucky, 27-16. The Impact: Wildcats can’t afford to fall behind by double-digits again and expect to win road game against Gamecocks.
9. Arkansas (1-1):Last Week: L, TCU, 28-7. The Impact: Bret Bielema is back where he started his fifth season with Razorbacks, one game under .500, 26-27.
10. Mississippi State (2-0): Last Week: W, at Louisiana Tech, 57-21. The Impact: After scoring 106 points in first two games, the Bulldogs open SEC play against an LSU team that only has allowed 10 points.
11. Texas A&M (1-1):Last Week: W, Nicholls State, 24-14. The Impact: Aggies scored 10 points in final 7:34 to pull out a much-needed win and take some heat off Kevin Sumlin before SEC play begins.
12. Vanderbilt (2-0): Last Week: W, Alabama A&M, 42-0. The Impact: Commodores’ special teams blocked one punt and deflected another and defense had three sacks and two interceptions.
13. Missouri (1-1):Last Week: L, South Carolina, 31-13. The Impact: After scoring 72 points in season opener against Missouri State, Tigers struggled on offense in first SEC game.
14. Mississippi (2-0):Last Week: w, Tennessee-Martin, 45-23. The Impact: In two games, QB Shea Patterson has passed for 918 yards and nine touchdowns, but the defense is still a concern heading into road game at Cal.
Louisiana-Lafayette at TEXAS A&M, Saturday 11 a.m., SEC
Tennessee at FLORIDA, Saturday 2:30 p.m., CBS
Mercer at AUBURN, Saturday 3 p.m., SEC
Purdue at MISSOURI, Saturday 3 p.m., SEC
Colorado State at ALABAMA, Saturday 6 p.m, ESPN2
LSU at Mississippi State, Saturday 6 p.m., ESPN
Samford at GEORGIA, Saturday 6:30 p.m., SEC
KANSAS STATE at Vanderbilt, Saturday 6:30 p.m., SEC
Kentucky at SOUTH CAROLINA, Saturday 6:30 p.m., SEC
MISSISSIPPI at California, 9:30 p.m., ESPN
LAST WEEK: 10-2