South Carolina bounced back with a solid win against Vanderbilt. Now the Gamecocks draw one of the beasts of the mid-major realm in Appalachian State. What you need to know:
What time do the Gamecocks play today?
Who: Appalachian State (7-1) at South Carolina (4-5)
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
TV: ESPN2 (Anish Shroff, play-by-play; John Congemi, analysis; Kris Budden, sideline)
Radio: 107.5 FM (Todd Ellis, play-by-play; Tommy Suggs, analysis; Jamar Nesbit, sideline) ... See all the radio affiliates around the state here.
Satellite radio: Sirius 98/XM 192
Line: South Carolina by 6
Series history: South Carolina leads the all-time series 8-1. The teams were SoCon opponents for a few years and Sparky Woods brought the Mountaineers to Columbia three times in the Joe Morrison era.
Weather: Clear and chilly. Calm wind. Temperature 44 degrees at kickoff, 38 at game’s end.
South Carolina needs this one to at least keep its slim bowl hopes alive. If the Gamecocks can hold off the feisty Mountaineers, they would need to upset either against Clemson or Texas A&M to reach six wins.
That fifth win is also important from an optics standpoint. Going 5-7 flat out looks better than 4-8. Considering the schedule and QB situation, that will matter when the topic of Will Muschamp’s job is inevitably discussed.
App State was rolling before a rivalry upset to Georgia Southern. If the Mountaineers win Saturday, it would be another win against a Power 5 team (with UNC) and put them in line for 11 or 12 wins.
The teams, by the numbers
Opp. Yds Rush/Game
Opp. Yds. Pass/Game
Opp. Total Yds/Game
South Carolina players to watch
1. Quarterback Ryan Hilinski looked good against Vanderbilt, calmly leading the offense and getting the ball out quickly. He’ll be tasked with facing a versatile defense. He has 1,752 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions this season.
2. Running back Rico Dowdle is coming back from a knee injury and suddenly might have to carry a bigger load with Tavien Feaster dealing with a groin strain. Dowdle has been the No. 1 back much of the season and has 457 yards and four scores in seven games.
3. Linebacker Ernest Jones will man the middle against an offense that has a range of play-makers, but perhaps not a bell-cow receiver or tailback. They will have to corrall a mobile and efficient quarterback in Zac Thomas. In his first year starting, Jones has 55 tackles, one interceptions and five pass break-ups.
Appalachian State players to watch
1. The Georgia Southern loss ended a 17-game win streak for App State with Zac Thomas at quarterback. The junior has thrown for 14 touchdowns against three interceptions this season. He’s also third on the team in rushing with 303 yards and four scores.
2. App State has nine South Carolina natives on its roster, including receiver Malik Williams. The Chester product, who wasn’t offered by the Gamecocks, is second on the team with 37 catches for 438 yards and two touchdowns.
3. App State’s win over UNC included defensive end Demetrius Taylor becoming the first FBS player in the 2000s to record 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble return for a TD and an interception in the same game. Taylor is second in the Sun Belt in sacks and tackles for loss.
South Carolina projected depth chart
QB: Ryan Hilinski (Dakereon Joyner, Jay Urich)
RB: Rico Dowdle (Deshaun Fenwick or Mon Denson)
WR: Xavier Legette
WR: Bryan Edwards (OrTre Smith)
WR: Shi Smith (Chavis Dawkins)
TE: Kyle Markway (KeShawn Toney)
TE: Chandler Farrell (Traevon Kenion)
LT: Sadarius Hutcherson (Jakai Moore)
LG: Jordan Rhodes
C: Donell Stanley (Eric Douglas)
RG: Jovaughn Gwyn (Eric Douglas)
RT: Dylan Wonnum (Eric Douglas)
DE: Kingsley Enagbare (Aaron Sterling)
DT: Javon Kinlaw (Zacch Pickens)
DT: Kobe Smith (Rick Sandidge)
Buck: DJ Wonnum (Daniel Fennell)
SLB: Sherrod Greene (Jahmar Brown)
MLB: Ernest Jones (Rosendo Louis Jr.)
WLB: T.J. Brunson (Damani Staley)
CB: Jaycee Horn (John Dixon)
S: JT Ibe (Jammie Robinson)
S: RJ Roderick (Jammie Robinson)
CB: Israel Mukuamu (John Dixon)
N: Jammie Robinson (RJ Roderick)
PK: Parker White (Will Tommie)
KO: Will Tommie (Joseph Charlton)
P: Joseph Charlton (Michael Almond)
DS: Matt Oliveira (Matthew Bailey)
H: Joseph Charlton
PR: Bryan Edwards (Shi Smith)
KR: Shi Smith or Xavier Legette, Mon Denson
The State’s Andrew Ramspacher contributed to this report