First look: Storylines, betting odds for USC football’s game against Tennessee

It’s time for a checkered-pattern stadium, some bright orange and “Rocky Top” being played over and over again. Last season, South Carolina silenced the famous country song at home, but will have to travel to Knoxville this time around.

Here’s an early look at this week’s matchup as South Carolina travels to No. 21 Tennessee.

South Carolina at Tennessee game, TV/stream info

Who: South Carolina (2-2, 1-1 SEC) at Tennessee (3-1, 0-1 SEC)

Where: Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

TV: SEC Network

Stream: via the ESPN app

Series history: Tennessee leads the all-time series 28-11-2, dating back to 1903. Saturday’s game will be the 42nd meeting between the two teams, and South Carolina is 3-18 when facing the Volunteers in Knoxville. Last season, the Gamecocks upset then-No. 4 Tennessee, 63-38, at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Vegas betting odds

South Carolina is a 10-point underdog against No. 21 Tennessee, with the over/under set at 63.5 points.

About South Carolina

The Gamecocks had a gritty win over Mississippi State, 37-30, to even their record and pick up their first conference win of the season. Despite allowing nearly 500 passing yards, the defense had nine tackles for loss and four sacks against MSU.

Spencer Rattler and Xavier Legette connected for two touchdowns, both over 75 yards. USC had the two-longest drives since head coach Shane Beamer took over, a 98-yard drive and a 99-yard drive on back-to-back possessions.

Rattler (1,242) is third in the SEC for passing yardage. Legette (556) leads the conference in receiving yards.

Saturday’s game will be the third ranked opponent South Carolina has faced this season. All three games have been on the road or on a neutral site. The Gamecocks’ next two opponents, Florida and Missouri, are also ranked.

About Tennessee

Tennessee took down UTSA, 45-14, in its most recent game to reach 3-1 overall this season, but the Vols haven’t won an SEC game, after losing to then-No. 25 Florida in Week 3. Tennessee had over 300 rushing yards and 200 passing yards against UTSA, and had a first-half shutout.

Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton III had an 81-yard rush last week, and went 18-of-31 passing with one touchdown in the Vols victory. Tennessee is fifth in the SEC in total offense and first in rushing offense — and has three running backs at or above 200 yards on the ground.

This week’s game against USC is the second of a three-game homestand Tennessee has before visiting Alabama and Kentucky.

Tennessee running back Dylan Sampson (6) on a run play during the NCAA college football game against UTSA on Saturday, September 23, 2023 in Knoxville, Tenn.
Tennessee running back Dylan Sampson (6) on a run play during the NCAA college football game against UTSA on Saturday, September 23, 2023 in Knoxville, Tenn.

Gamecocks and Vols to watch

USC RB Mario Anderson: Showing USC can have a run game, Anderson led the Gamecocks with 88 rushing yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. Anderson received a game ball against Mississippi State, and made a strong case to be the lead back moving forward.

USC LB Stone Blanton: Blanton didn’t have as many tackles against MSU as in previous games, but he picked up his first forced fumble of the season and had a pass breakup to go with his four tackles. The starting linebacker has been playing alongside Debo Williams and Pup Howard, who’s taken more snaps recently, but Blanton is still active for the bulk of the game.

Tennessee RB Dylan Sampson: Sampson had 139 rushing yards against UTSA and averaged 12.6 yards per carry. He scored two touchdowns last week, bringing his season total to five in three games played. Sampson also had 20 receiving yards on three receptions.

Tennessee DB Tamarion McDonald: Tennessee’s senior defensive back had seven tackles against UTSA, including two TFLs for nine yards and a sack. McDonald has had at least a half TFL in three of four games, and picked up his first interception of the season last week.

South Carolina schedule