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Place: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
South Carolina was as impressive as any team last week, thoroughly dominating Georgia to move into the driver’s seat in the SEC East. The least-impressive team in the SEC may have been LSU, which made sure that coach Steve Spurrier and the third-ranked Gamecocks would not be alone as an undefeated team in the East by getting rolled over at Florida.
That loss left South Carolina as the No. 2 team in the SEC, behind reigning national champion Alabama. The Gamecocks have moved into championship contention because of a vast improvement on the defensive side of the ball as they rank fourth in the nation in points against.
The eighth-ranked Tigers have taken a dip due to an offense that has totaled 18 points in its first two conference games. LSU tries to bounce back when it hosts South Carolina on Saturday night.
South Carolina Gamecocks (6-0, 4-0 SEC): The Gamecocks are in the middle of the toughest stretch of their schedule, with No. 6 Florida coming up after LSU. South Carolina achieved its lofty ranking by blasting then-No. 5 Georgia 35-7 last Saturday.
Spurrier and his staff have built a defense that can compete with the likes of Alabama and LSU, combined with an offense that can control possession. The Gamecocks ran 51 running plays against the Bulldogs and entrusted Connor Shaw with only 10 passes. Going up against the Tigers’ second-ranked pass defense, South Carolina could again lean heavily on Heisman candidate Marcus Lattimore.
The junior running back has at least one touchdown in every game this season and has gone over 100 yards in each of the last two contests.
LSU Tigers (5-1, 1-1 SEC): Last week’s visit to Florida began a stretch of five straight games against ranked opponents for the Tigers, who do not have a non-conference game left on the schedule.
The pre-season hype around Zach Mettenberger and an offense that would open things up in the passing game has cooled considerably over the last few weeks. Mettenberger threw for 158 yards and an interception against Florida, and LSU now sits an even 100th in the nation in average passing yardage with 195.7.
The running game had picked up some of the slack in the first five games for the Tigers but managed only 42 yards against the Gators and will be facing a South Carolina rushing defense that ranks 10th in the country. The defense, led by linebacker Kevin Minter, has kept LSU in the top-10. Minter and defensive ends Sam Montgomery and Lavar Edwards have combined for 21 tackles for loss.
1. The Gamecocks have won a school-record 10 straight games – the longest current streak in the nation.
2. LSU has dominated the series, going 16-2-1 all-time. The Tigers have won each of the last four meetings and are 10-1 against South Carolina in Baton Rouge.
3. South Carolina has not started 7-0 since 1984, which was the only time the school ever achieved a ranking higher than its current mark.