FOOTBALL CENTRAL: Tennessee at South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Tennessee will look to earn its second straight road victory this Saturday night when it travels to Columbia to take on South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium. 

Saturday’s game will feature a primetime broadcast at 7:30 p.m. ET on the SEC Network. Tom Hart (play-by-play) and Jordan Rodgers (analyst) will have the call in the booth while Cole Cubelic will be reporting from the sidelines. Vol Network radio affiliates will have a live audio broadcast with Bob Kesling, Tim Priest and Brent Hubbs. Sirius (Channel 103) and XM satellite radio (Channel 191) will also carry the game.

Need to Know

Chandler Makes History
With a 10-yard touchdown reception last Saturday against No. 1 Alabama, sophomore Ty Chandler became the first Tennessee running back in program history to record a receiving touchdown in three consecutive games. Chandler also had touchdown catches of 42 and 35 yards against No. 21 Auburn and No. 2 Georgia, respectively. Virginia’s Olamide Zaccheaus is the only FBS running back with more touchdown catches (six) than Chandler this season.

Phillips Continues to Make Plays on Defense
Vols’ senior defensive end Kyle Phillips has been a play-making machine over the past two weeks. In UT’s upset win on the road over No. 21 Auburn two weeks ago, Phillips led the team with a career-best nine tackles and forced a fumble that was recovered in the end zone for the Tennessee touchdown. Last week against top-ranked Alabama, Phillips made his first-career interception – snagging a deflected pass by Jalen Hurts in the third quarter – and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown, breaking numerous tackles on his way to the end zone.

Jennings Leading Receiving Corps
UT wide receiver Jauan Jennings continued his run of recent success in last week’s loss to No. 1 Alabama, becoming the first opposing wideout to post a 100-yard receiving day against the Crimson Tide this season (6 catches, 102 yards). The Murfreesboro, Tenn., native was named to the PFF College SEC Offensive Team of the Week for the second consecutive week on Tuesday.  

Jennings’ 62.5 receiving yards per game ranks sixth in the SEC in conference play and the junior wideout leads the Vols with 23 catches this season. Over the past two games, Jennings has hauled in 11 receptions for 173 yards and a touchdown. Eight of those 11 catches have gone for first downs.

Series History vs. South Carolina
Saturday will mark the 37th meeting all time between the Volunteers and Gamecocks. Tennessee leads the series with a 25-9-2 record, including a 9-6-2 mark in games played in Columbia.

The series has been closely contested in recent years with 13 of the last 18 contests being decided by one score, including the last six games between the two programs. South Carolina has won the previous two meetings, including a down-to-the-wire finish last season at Neyland Stadium. Redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Guarantano – who was making his first-career start – led the Vols on a 73-yard last-minute drive to the USC 2-yard line, but the Gamecock’s defense was able to hold UT out of the end zone to hang on for a 15-9 victory.

About South Carolina
South Carolina comes into Saturday’s game with a 3-3 overall record and a 2-3 mark in SEC play after falling at home to Texas A&M, 26-23, in its last game. However, the Gamecocks are coming off a bye, giving them an extra week to prepare for this week’s matchup.

Junior quarterback Jake Bentley leads the Gamecocks’ offense, averaging 230.2 passing yards per game, which ranks sixth in the SEC. The three-year starter has thrown 10 touchdown passes but also leads the league with seven interceptions. Bentley’s top target is explosive redshirt senior wideout Deebo Samuel, who leads the team with 33 catches for 382 yards to go along with four touchdowns. Bryan Edwards is also having a solid season with 28 receptions for 351 yards and a team-best five touchdown catches. Junior Rico Dowdle leads the rushing attack with 351 yards and two touchdowns on 83 carries.

South Carolina ranks 10th in the SEC in total defense (387.3) and scoring defense (25.8), but has been very stingy on third down, holding opponents to just a 25 percent conversion rate, which ranks second in the conference and fourth nationally. Junior linebacker T.J. Brunson leads the team with 35 tackles to go along with 3.5 tackles for loss while fellow linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams leads the Gamecocks with 9.5 tackles for loss and also has a pair of sacks. Junior defensive lineman D.J. Wonnum, who led the team with 13.0 tackles for loss and six sacks last season, is expected to return from injury this week as well. In the secondary, senior Rashad Fenton is having a very good year with 16 tackles, two tackles for loss, three interceptions and two pass breakups.