Vanderbilt is trying to climb into the upper echelon of the Southern Conference's Eastern Division while No. 14 South Carolina is trying to stay there. The Commodores enter Saturday's road game with 14 straight losses to division powers Florida, Georgia and South Carolina and 14 consecutive losses to ranked opponents. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier expressed concerns about his defense - which has been strong against Vanderbilt recently - after a dismal showing in a 41-30 loss to Georgia.
"There's nothing embarrassing about losing as long as you play smart and play with a lot of effort," Spurrier told the media Tuesday. "We didn't do those two things." The Gamecocks' defensive frustrations were evident on the sideline during that loss when two assistant coaches got into an argument and after the game when junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney complained about how he was used. "Very frustrating," Clowney told ESPN after the Georgia game. "I told the coaches you got to put me somewhere else - in the middle if you want to - somewhere I can make some plays (to) help my team get in position to win. But (Georgia) took me right out of the game."
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: South Carolina -13.5.
ABOUT VANDERBILT (1-1, 0-1 SEC): Senior receiver Jordan Matthews leads the SEC with 16 catches and 289 yards and has had at least 100 yards receiving in five of his last six games. Matthews needs three touchdowns to break Dan Stricker's school record for career receiving touchdowns (21 between 1999-2002). The Commodores also lead the league with eight sacks but have struggled recently against mobile quarterbacks, giving up 92 rushing yards to South Carolina's Connor Shaw last year and four rushing scores to Mississippi quarterbacks in this season's opener.
ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA (1-1, 0-1 SEC): Clowney, who recorded a school-record 13 sacks last year, got his first sack of the season against Georgia but spent most of the game chasing plays from the backside. Spurrier took the blame for the defense's struggles, saying his team has to be able to line up correctly against up-tempo teams and play better on third down. Sophomore running back Mike Davis had a career-high 149 yards against Georgia and is averaging 9.4 yards per carry.
1. The Gamecocks are riding a 12-game home win streak, the third longest in school history and third longest active streak in the country behind Michigan (16) and Georgia (13).
2. Vanderbilt has won three straight SEC road games, finishing the 2012 season with wins at Missouri, Kentucky and Mississippi.
3. Davis has two 100-yard rushing games this year after South Carolina had just four in 2012.
PREDICTION: South Carolina 33, Vanderbilt 26