Location: College Station, TX
Head Coach: Kevin Sumlin (3rd Season)
2013 Record: 9-4 (4-4 SEC)
2014 Marks a new era for both USC and Texas A&M. Johnny Football, Jadeveon Clowney and Connor Shaw are all in the NFL so both teams will be looking for new stars to step up in 2014. For the Gamecocks, all eyes will be on fifth year senior Dylan Thompson to take over where Shaw left under center. Thompson has had success in the past, when given the opportunity, but now it is his team and the pressure will fall on his shoulders. As for the Aggies, Kenny Hill will be the heir apparent to Johnny Football, and I have a feeling Coach Sumlin will have him ready. This game will shed light on just who these teams are in 2014 and it appears both teams will lean on these new quarterbacks to usher them to SEC glory.
Keys to the Game:
Gamecock running attack success: Mike Davis, Brandon Wilds, and David Williams all look to get plenty of touches behind a veteran o-line. Will they be able to open holes against the Aggie defense? For USC to win, they must.
Contain the Aggie speed attack: Kenny Hill will be looking to exploit a young Gamecock secondary and he has a good balance of speed and size on the outside. Speedy Noil and Ricky Seals-Jones will be his top two targets.
Gamecock O-Line: Shell, Robinson, Cann, Waldrop and Stadnik have all played and have the size to make a big impact. Can they open holes for the running game and give enough time for Thompson to throw the ball? This will be a big factor Thursday night.
Breakdown: South Carolina will bring a young defense into the game on Thursday, mostly in the secondary. Look for Texas A&M to test the secondary early and often. South Carolina does not want to get into a “shootout” type of game, so look for USC to run the ball a lot. Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds will get the bulk of the carries.
The Aggies defense was ranked 109th last year, and they are looking to improve greatly this season. The front 7 will be the key for the Aggies and if they can stop the run and get pressure on Thompson it could be a long night for the Gamecocks.
Prediction: Spurrier wins his 200th SEC game and the Gamecocks continue their 18 game home winning streak.
USC 34 Texas A&M 28