UK football seeks sixth straight win over the Gamecocks


Kentucky Wildcats wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. (1) runs the ball during the game against South Carolina on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018, in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky defeated South Carolina 24 to 10. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Michael Wellnitz

This Saturday SEC Network will feature both the 2-2 University of Kentucky Wildcats (0-2 SEC) and the 1-3 South Carolina Gamecocks (0-2 SEC) where both teams will hope to gain their first conference victory. Kentucky looks to recover from a 28-13 loss at Mississippi State while South Carolina also hopes to change its last result—a 34-14 loss at home to Missouri.

The Cats will look to continue their winning ways against South Carolina as they have won the last five straight games against the Gamecocks, which also includes two straight wins in Columbia. One thing Kentucky will look to follow this weekend is its defensive strength on the ball. UK has allowed 24 or less points in 15 out of the last 18 games, being the best stretch in almost 40 years.

South Carolina will play host and has the all-time series lead against the Wildcats (17-12-1). Freshman quarterback Ryan Hilniski, who replaced out-for-the-season veteran quarterback Jake Bentley, is ranked fourth in the SEC for yards per game, averaging 257.3 yards. Hilinski has been good for five touchdown passes and three interceptions so far this season.

Transfer junior Sawyer Smith will make his third start Saturday for the Wildcats after the season-ending injury quarterback Terry Wilson suffered in week two. Smith will look to have a much better weekend after only completing 37 percent of his passes in Kentucky’s loss to Mississippi State. One way Smith may be able to get help will be from junior wide receiver Lynn Bowden, who is ranked 2nd in the SEC and 15th nationally in all-purpose yards per game with 138.5

South Carolina defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw will look to have a big impact for the Gamecock defense as the senior leads the SEC in sacks this season with 4.0. South Carolina has yet to defeat an FBS team—its only victory this season came in week two against Charleston Southern.

Not only is this a highly anticipated SEC matchup in which both teams will look for their first conference win, but both teams know they cannot afford another defeat at this point of the season as both Kentucky and South Carolina would complicate their chances in participating in a bowl game this Winter. 

The Cats and Gamecocks are set to kick off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and can be seen on SEC Network.